Monday, November 24, 2014

4 Factors to Consider When Choosing a CRM Solution

The other day I saw a post on LinkedIn, in which someone was asking for help to make the decision between two popular CRM systems, knowing they planned to integrate it with their existing ERP system. Having played a major role in the global implementation of a CRM system and the integration with our existing ERP system, I realized that this is a pretty common predicament for many IT departments, and I’m in a position to offer some advice.

When choosing a CRM system, you need to think about more than just the preferences of your sales team or short-term costs. While it’s a single system, you need to consider it as part of your entire organization’s business processes and you should make a strategic decision based on the needs and goals of your organization.

Before you decide, consider and consult with these four areas:

1. Sales. The biggest challenges in implementing any kind of new system is user acceptance. It can be the most amazing new system, but if users resist it and don’t embrace it then there go your expected benefits. While everyone can and should be trained, if your sales team, which will be your main users, are more familiar with one of the systems, they will be more willing to embrace it. When sales is on board, they are more likely to work with the system the way that is needed to so that management can benefit from accurate business analysis driven from their dashboards and reports.

2. ERP. Integration between CRM and ERP systems let you automate processes and synchronize data between these two key business systems. For example, a Customer Order can trigger the automatic conversion of a Quote issued in your CRM to a Sales Order in your ERP. Also by synchronizing master data common to both systems keeps them up-to-date with the latest information. Don’t feel that you have to choose the CRM from the same vendor as your ERP. Remember these are two different systems for two different needs. You should select the one that is best suited for your professional needs. However, you should check how easily and rapidly you can integrate between your ERP and new CRM. Many CRM and ERP vendors recommend integration partners that have certified optimized adapters to connect with their business processes and data.

3. Customer Support. As most companies provide some level of customer support services to their clients, connecting your CRM to your support system enables sales and management to have a comprehensive view of a customer’s situation. This leads to better customer service and uncovers cross-sell/upsell opportunities, making for happier, more satisfied customers. Therefore check the integration options with your CRM and customer support system before making your decision.

4. Marketing. Marketing is another important CRM touch point. Marketing departments strive to determine ROI from their marketing campaigns. Integrating your CRM with marketing tools, such as Marketo, enables marketing to understand which campaigns or events brought in leads and calculate ROI by tracking the final value of those that turned into customer deals. Make sure there are easy methods for you to integrate your marketing tools with your CRM system.

Your CRM can provide you with a valuable 360 degree view of each and every one of your customers when connected to your other business systems. In order to make the right decision, you should first consult and define business goals together with your Marketing, Finance and Support departments and then it will be much easier to decide which system is best for your organization. 

Yaniv Oren is the CRM Manager and Admin at Magic Software Enterprises.