How to Choose Your Next CRM

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All too often, Contact Relationship Management (CRM) platforms are chosen because someone said "It's the Best". What you really need is a platform that gives you the best fit. If the only thing you dread more than using your current CRM is evaluating a replacement, here are 5 simple steps to success.

1. Assess Your Needs

Every vendor believes their CRM is the best. It's your job to learn if it's the best fit. Make a list of your needs. Start by listing the functions you must-have to be successful, the "showstoppers". Expand your list to include good to have, including functions you can grow into. Finish with the nice to have items. Stop before you throw in the kitchen sink. Including features, you don't need and won't use increases both the cost and user confusion. Use this list to pick a likely CRM platform candidate(s). 

2. Plan Your Platform Evaluation

 All CRM Platforms offer a timed demo you can use to "try-before-you-buy". Typically 14-days in duration, it would seem to give you plenty of time. Unless you wait until day 13. Before you launch your trial account, create an evaluation plan of attack. Use the list of needs from step 1. Allow those who will use the platform to take it for a spin. Include those who will pay for it and those who will play with it. If the platform you're considering has a customer portal, include them on your eval team. If at any point the platform fails a show-stopper task. Stop the show!. Create a written record of all your results and impressions. 

3. Connect all the Dots

Modern CRM platforms connect with external platforms to extend their functionality. Evaluate their performance by connecting all the dots. The second element of connection is a confirmation of a platform's device independence. Which devices need to be supported? Most CRM platforms employ different desktop and mobile applications. Confirm the list of available features works in both versions. 

4.   Manage Your Data Migration

Users are justifiably terrified their valuable contact information will be lost. Accept proof, not just vendor assurances concerning data security and integrity by performing s scaled-down export/import test between the current and proposed systems. 

5. Train for Success

Getting your users trained and up to speed with the new system is called on-boarding. Pay close attention to the impressions and feedback from your users during your evaluation. Studies have shown that CRM onboarding fails 70% on the first try. It doesn't get much better on the 2nd or 3rd try. Modern CRM platforms are designed (the User Interface or UI) to be easy to use. Go beyond the sales literature to get a clear indication of how the User Experience (UE) differs from your current CRM. Expect productivity to suffer in the short term. Keep in mind that training doesn't stop at the end of onboarding. Budget for ongoing training as well as new hires. Evaluate the available resources from the vendor, including customer support, knowledgebase, and something we are just now learning about, called "training playlists", a collection of resources that connect the dots beyond simple 'How-Tos".  

The best fit CRM platform is one that fits your team and your clients.   

Use the link below to follow me as I evaluate Thryv, a robust CRM platform for service businesses. 

https://www.facebook.com/LeverageUnlimitedInc/ . or use the hashtag #Thryv14DayTrial