How to Avoid CRM Buyer's Remorse

Five Insider Tips For Picking the Right Solution

 By John Serrantino, Sales Director at PipelineDeals

Purchasing a CRM is a daunting task, especially when you’re not a tech company. Activities, Tasks, Pipeline Visibility … let’s face it, it may not be a language you speak (at least not today).  

You may have heard from friends, colleagues, and business associates that a CRM has helped them streamline their sales process and become more efficient, so you believe it can work. However, you may not know where to begin.

You wouldn’t start a road trip without destinations in mind, so why would you shop for a big ticket item like a CRM without a plan?

Here are some tips to prepare for the journey ahead:

1. Benefits. Not Features

Want to hear a secret? Every CRM has essentially the same high level features, all of which a sales rep (and marketing site) will be happy to dazzle you with. But features do not equal benefits. It is critical to consider the end state you hope for your business to achieve when evaluating a CRM.  

For example, if success means better visibility into your sales team’s revenue generating activities (i.e. phone calls, meetings, etc.) then your focal point should be how the CRM provides insights into activities and the corresponding results.

This is still a siloed perspective, as ease of Activity Logging is critical to the insights generated by the CRM. In other words, the reporting is only as good as the data inputs. Therefore, a good starting point is understanding how your sales team will enter data into the system. If that is complex, your reporting will not be representative.

2. Decisions. Who’s making them?

In today’s environment, it is increasing uncommon for a single decision maker to make a CRM purchasing decision. Generally, the capabilities of a CRM stretch across multiple departments. Most commonly: sales, marketing, operations.

As a best practice, each of the stakeholders should have an end goal in mind of what they will get out of the system. This may sound simple but the majority of buyers often overlook this until they are far down the road with a potential CRM.

While involving the remaining stakeholders later in the process can potentially lead to a reduced sales cycle and fewer internal meetings (who likes those?), it does have a strong potential to cause buyers to “make it work” rather than get what they need.  

Inevitably, someone will feel short changed in terms of functionality and that team will likely adopt the system at a lesser rate.  

3. Think Long-Term

This is no different than buying a home. The CRM is the home for your business. Will your family (business) grow in the coming years? If so, it’s important to consider a CRM’s ability to scale.

Not all CRMs can handle increased business needs. It is critical to discuss growth objectives with the potential CRM during the buying process. It is just as important to walk away from a situation that fits today but not tomorrow.

A quick way to find out if a CRM is capable of scaling with your business is getting details on how many clients it can support. Ask questions like, “How many users does an average account have?” “How many users does your largest account have?”

4. Getting Out (Data Migration)

This goes hand-in-hand with thinking long-term.

Getting data out of a CRM is not always the most pleasant experience. Doing diligence on what that process would entail is strongly advised.  

5. Product Tours Hold Value

Assuming the CRM offers access to a Product Expert (if they don’t, that might be a sign of things to come), take them up on it. Product Experts are trained to evaluate business cases and determine if a prospect is a good fit.

The landscape of “sales” in the software world is very different than other industries. The true value of a customer is not realized at enrollment but rather down the line when that customer has stuck with the software. This paradigm shift means not just getting customers in but getting the right customers in.