How to Choose a CRM: 3 Important Questions to Ask

blog author
Chris Murvine
CEO | Founder

In a perfect world, your sales team and your marketing team would be separate, though connected, entities.

However, this is rarely the case. If you have a sales division, chances are it’s sort of rolled into your marketing department, and no one quite knows where one process ends and the other begins.

That being said, your choice of CRM (Customer Relationship Management system) will be one of the most important decisions you can make for your organization.

Why? Three reasons. One, your CRM will be your organization's client relations hub. Two, your CRM will be an important platform for internal sales communications. And three, when used properly, your CRM will be an incredibly powerful sales tool.

To help you make the best CRM decision for your firm, I've discussed below the three most important questions your organization should ask when on-boarding a new CRM.

How are we going to use it?

This may seem like an obvious question to ask before choosing a CRM system, but you’d be surprised at the number of companies that decide on a CRM prior to laying out a formal sales process.

Several points to consider before moving ahead?

What sales methodology does your organization use? Will it transfer well to the CRM system you’re considering? Can it?

How is your sales team managed, i.e. are there key benchmarks each sales rep must hit before moving forward in the sales process?

Is your organization even ready to be closing deals. For example, is your product still in development? If you’re deliberately lacking a formal sales infrastructure, perhaps you might consider a CRM system oriented toward being more of a rolodex than a sales assistant for the time being.

Be sure to have your requirements well thought out in advance prior to choosing a CRM system, or else it’s likely you’ll be mapping your sales process to the tool and not the other way around.

How robust of a CRM system do you need?

Everyone wants to be a Salesforce expert—it’s a badge of honor, like being a Marine. And if you’re running the kind of multi-tiered sales department that requires Salesforce-level CRM functionality, go for it!

But for smaller enterprises, or for companies whose personnel is new to using a CRM system, Salesforce might be a bit varsity-level for you yet.

Following are two CRM systems to consider for smaller sales teams:

Nutshell – Aside from having, hands-down, one of the best UI’s in the business, Nutshell is incredibly intuitive to use and scales easily as you add members to your sales team. While it’s a tad weak on social media intelligence, Nutshell forces you to nail down your sales process—each step appears as a field in a virtual funnel, and sales reps can’t move to the next step until the previous step is complete. And any CRM nerd should be enthralled with the ‘confidence meter’—your sales projections vary depending on how ‘confident’ you are in your ability to close each lead.

Nimble – If you happen to be a young company comprised of digital natives, Nimble may be a fantastic alternative to the beefier CRMs. The system is practically built for gathering intelligence about leads and prospects by pulling in data from across various social media. Though there’s no formal sales process that must be adhered to as with Nutshell, Nimble allows for recording details about important interactions with leads and integrates with Google Apps.

CRM Integration
An example of the Nimble CRM dashboard.

Additionally, there seem to be new CRM systems to choose from every day—I average a call per week with someone seeking help with their CRM, and most of the time they’re using a system I’ve never heard of before. Go ahead, be picky.

Will our CRM need to integrate with other platforms?

At this exciting period in SaaS (Software as a Service) history, I’m going to suggest that the CRM you’re evaluating most certainly does integrate with other platforms (if it doesn’t, move along). But the question is, which ones?

For me, this is the most difficult question to consider when choosing a CRM system, because chances are, each CRM integrates with some but not all of your other SaaS tools. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever find a Goldilocks-fit in a CRM, and that there will be at least one additional ‘human step’ in your lead-to-customer process. But it’s important to think as big-picture as possible when choosing a CRM system and go with the platform that plays nice with your most important other tools.

Need help deciding which CRM is right for your small business? Talk to a member of the Madison Marketing team!


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