Everything you need to know before investing in CRM

Now that you’ve learned all about what CRM tools are and what are the best ones for startups, it’s time to look at things from another angle. Deciding to adopt and implement a CRM software is not a cost, is an investment. That’s why we’re here today: to tell you everything you need to know before investing in CRM.

As any other investment, the money you spend adopting, implementing and running a CRM software has to offer proportional return in order to actually be classified as an investment instead of just another cost.

Why should you consider investing in CRM?

The modern market is very competitive, with more alternatives surfacing every minute. That’s why tools that help you understand your target customer, identify prospects and turn them into leads are so popular right now.

Let’s face it, in such a competitive market, every tool that can help improve your sales productivity is an essential. However, are these reasons enough to convince you towards investing in CRM?

Even though they may seem like it, they’re absolutely not enough to make you instantly sign up for the first result of your “crm tool” google search. There are numerous CRM platform alternatives available, these are a few things you should look for:

What to look for in a CRM platform?

As you would do when researching a potential customer, you need to evaluate all the available options (and there are many, as we’ve already shown here).

Only after you understand what you really need from a CRM platform, cross check which of the alternatives offers what you need and fits  within your allocated budget.

The CRM platform you choose has to be practical and time effective. It must help your employees save time and be more productive while gathering important data to run your business smoothly. To make it easier for you to decide, here are a few things you must consider before choosing your path for investing in CRM:

What am I looking to achieve investing in CRM?

Before you invest in a CRM platform, you need to determine your goals, aka what is it that you wish to achieve and how using a CRM system will help you.

You won’t be using CRM to its full potential if you only use it to store your customer’s data and do nothing with the information afterwards. You have to actually determine how you want to use the data you’ll collect to improve your business.

Here are a few examples of ways to use a customer relationship management platform:

  • Create targeted marketing campaigns using your customer’s profile information;
  • Target more profitable accounts after analyzing and understanding your marketing and sales funnels, leads generation, conversion and close rates, and other key insights.

After defining both your short and long-term goals for using CRM, you’ll be ready to analyze the available software options to choose the one that best suits your needs.

What information should my CRM platform collect? How should I use it?

As mentioned before, the first thing you need to determine before deciding to invest in CRM are your goals.

Based on these goals you’ll be able to determine the data and, therefore, establish the most relevant reports for your business.

By outlining both the goals and the reports before investing in CRM, you can determine if the platform you’re considering provides enough customization for your intended use. For example, here are a few things you should consider:

  • Do you need different views for different people in the company? (Each sales rep gets to see their results as an individual, but you get to see the results as a whole);
  • Is your sales cycle unique? Do you need to customize the deal stages? (Not every company works the same; consider the possibility that you may need to customize your cycle);
  • Do you need reports on your current sales funnel? What information do you need to extract?

By defining all this information upfront, it will be a lot easier to evaluate similar platforms and decide which is the most adequate to your needs.

How complex is the implementation? How long will it take?

The answer to this question is, of course, different for every CRM platform and every company. Each has its own scenarios and complexity levels.

The implementation timeline normally depends on the size of the company, number of users, custom integrations with other systems, the locations where the existing data is located, and the complexity of importing it all.

If your sales and customer service processes are relatively simple and interact easily with the platform of your choice, you’re probably looking at an easy and quick implementation.

Your main priority, however, should be implementing a system that meets your goals, even if it means waiting a few more days for a more complex implementation.

Is the CRM platform user friendly? How can I motivate my staff to use it?

As every other software out there, CRM platforms come in all sizes and shapes. After evaluating your company’s needs, you’ll choose for the one that best suits your needs.

There are very complex platforms, full of optional features and advanced applications. However, most companies don’t need everything these platforms offer.

When trying to win your team over and convince them to use a CRM platform, simplicity and ease of use are probably going to be strong points in your favor.

You have to always keep in mind that it doesn’t matter if you spend millions investing in a high tech CRM platform, it will only work if people use it. People are the ones that’ll input data into it and use the insights it produces to improve sales results. The user experience is very important, so always remember to look for user friendly and intuitive softwares.

Another very important factor is data entry. If your staff spends more time than they should inputing information into the system, something’s not right. Your CRM should connect with your email account platform, store phone records, and pull in social media data, all without the need for manual input.

If you decide to integrate your CRM with a marketing automation platform, for example, it can also pull in information about how a prospect moves through your website (which pages it visits, how much time it spends and where it clicks) or interacts with your content. These information are great to help new business reps understand what your potential customers are interested in.

Does the CRM platform integrate with the tools I already use?

If you decide towards investing in CRM, it should make your life easier, not more difficult. To do so, you need to consider all the sales and marketing tools you already use and consider if and how they can communicate with your intended CRM platform.

If you currently use a marketing automation platform, make sure it integrates with the CRM platform you choose to help improve collaboration between marketing and sales.

If you currently prospect customers using social media channels, or use the data to inform sales conversations, you should probably look for a tool that can automatically input this data into the CRM.

In the end, a CRM platform is just another tool that, when used correctly by the right people can end up providing you great information to boost your sales results.

It’s really up to you to take all the relevant information into consideration before you decide investing in CRM and get your team to use it to improve the relationship with your customers.

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Written by Isabelle Salemme, Product content manager at Pipefy. She uses her extensive Pipefy knowledge to write informative pieces teaching users to make the best of Pipefy. Besides being responsible for all product-related content, she's an avid reader, a coffee lover and a professional photographer.