Which CRM is the best for your business?

The Answer is…you need to decide

In short, you need to decide which CRM is going to be the best fit, because every business is going to have different needs. Many consultants will tell you that there is one clear and obvious winner in the CRM market, and that you should always use that specific CRM. This is false, and I advise caution whenever someone tells you there is one CRM that is the best option for everybody. So how can you tell which CRM is the best choice for you, when there are so many options available in the market? The key is to evaluate them based on a few key criteria, and then check to see if they can accomplish your team’s core needs. Here is a peek into the heart of the process I use with my clients, to help them choose a CRM that best sets them up for success.

1. Make a clear roadmap of features your team needs – and then prioritize them. 

For many teams, it is an obvious first step to lay out their needs. The biggest pitfall that they tend to fall into, is that they get hung up on the smaller and less significant details. For example, I have seen teams who are absolutely adamant that their CRM “needs to integrate with ___ system”. When I press them on WHY that integration is important, and what they are looking to accomplish with the integration, many times they will have no good answer. More often than not, they are looking to accomplish one small little thing that seems “neat” at first, but when you compare it to the primary goals for the company…well that thing simply doesn’t move the business closer to achieving their goals. For this reason, you want to sit down and think out each of your required features, to determine which ones are high priority. If the feature is crucial to moving your business towards it’s “big picture” goals, then your CRM needs to have it. Everything else is just icing on the cake, and you don’t want to get caught up in worrying about the small stuff. Here is an example of what this might look like:

2. Check to make sure the CRM is customizable

Out of the box solutions can be rigid, and you don’t want your CRM to dictate how you run your business. Instead, you want to be able to mold your CRM to better fit your specific business. Some key features to look for in terms of a flexible CRM are:

  • Customizable fields
  • Multiple record types
  • Some type of categorization
  • User based roles

The last item in that list, user based roles, is a commonly over-looked feature that may not be in your checklist at the start, but always ends up becoming a priority down the road. A great example of why this is important is that as you grow, you may want to store information (such as billing data), that is sensitive information. You may want your accountants and managers to see that data, while keeping it hidden from the sales staff or new hires. User based roles will help you better define which types of people should have access to which types of data. 

3. Make sure it can integrate with your other core systems

If you are a business that has been around for some time, you are more than likely going to have other software that you use on a regular basis. This can include your accounting software, your email service provider, your document storage systems etc. Wherever possible, you want to choose a CRM that will play nice with those systems. My first point about not getting hung up on the small details still holds power over this recommendation, but it is worth noting. 

Ideally, your CRM will be at the heart of your business. If you are not tied down to any other external systems just yet, then it is best to choose your CRM carefully, and then choose your other systems based on what is integrated well with the CRM. In fact, my go to CRM is Zoho CRM for that exact reason – Zoho has a whole suite of apps that you can bundle for one price. By keeping everything in one ecosystem, you can essentially run your entire business from one place. I recently took the time to make the switch and got rid of all my other business systems, even my accounting software FreshBooks (which I loved). I can honestly say that I will never go back, because I am saving so much time and money in the long run now. If you could use some advice on this and how I made the switch without imploding my business operations, please don’t hesitate to reach out for some tips. 

4. Give their support team a test run

One thing I can promise you is that at some point you will run into trouble with your CRM. Even if it is something simple, and you just need some guidance on how to accomplish a goal in the CRM, the quality of support you receive will make all the difference. For my clients, I am always the first point of contact for them. That helps make things a lot easier for them. For the average every day CRM user, they have to rely on the support provided directly from the CRM company. Make sure you take a moment and send them some “test” support tickets. Ask them questions that will help you gauge how responsive they are. If they are quick, helpful, and their solutions are easy to follow, then you probably have a winner. If you fail to hear back from them for days, run away now. Please head this advice, and NEVER choose a CRM system (or any software system for that matter) if they have poor customer support. Even if it is the best product on the market, poor service can and will make your life hell. I have heard horror stories, and want a better experience for you.