What to Look for in a CRM

This is the blog transcript of our video “What to Look for in a CRM”. If you’d like to see more of our videos, you can subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

There are so many CRMs out there right now. Some of them are well known, some of them aren’t. Some of them are industry specific, some of them are customized to your business. 

So how do you know which one is the right one for you? 

Well, watching this video will be a good place to start!

Hey everyone, I’m Ian Campbell, CEO of Mission Suite. Before we jump into today’s video, do me a favor and hit the subscribe button and ring the bell so that you’re notified whenever we post new videos.

It’s been just over 10 years since I started Mission Suite with the vision of making CRM and automation accessible for small and mid sized businesses. Since then, I’ve worked with hundreds of business owners and sales teams to help them figure out how to choose the right CRM for them. Sometimes Mission Suite was the right answer, sometimes it wasn’t, but helping those clients gave me a LOT of insight into what you should really be looking for in a CRM for your business.

Here are the five things that I recommend people look for when they’re choosing a CRM for their business or their sales team.

First thing’s first – know what features you’re looking for.

CRMs have come a long way in the past 20 years and the features that they offer can be pretty remarkable. And sometimes it can get overwhelming.

So, like anything, I often recommend to start with the basics – what do you really need? Why are you going to be using a CRM?

Make yourself a list about the need to haves, want to haves, and nice to haves, and then start evaluating the different options against that list.

Any CRM worth its salt is going to be able to manage your contacts, activities and sales opportunities – that should always be a given. But will you need to be able to send emails from your CRM? Or connect your email to it so that your email history is stored as activities?

Maybe you want to be able to do a mass email to your entire database without having to also pay for a separate email marketing platform. 

Need to be able to create signup forms? Automate emails and tasks based on specific trigger points?

All of these are things that you need to make sure you’re reviewing when thinking about the features you want in your CRM. They all serve a specific purpose or specific goal so, like I said earlier, make sure you know why you’re implementing a new CRM and keep that in mind as you make your decision.

Second, look for the ability to customize it to your business.

Like I said, there are a LOT of CRMs out there. And, as new CRMs have come up, a lot of them have been created in an attempt to serve the needs of a specific industry.

While I get the urge to use a CRM that seems like it might be tailored toward your needs, remember that you don’t represent an industry – you represent your own business.

Your needs in a CRM could very easily vary greatly from the needs of someone else in your industry so keep that in mind. Just because you’re a manufacturer, it doesn’t mean that the information that you need to collect, your sales process, or the way you track your business is the same as the manufacturer in the building next to yours.

And the issue with a lot of these industry focused CRMs is that they have a very limited capacity to be customized beyond what you get out of the box. And unless you want to change your business and sales process up to fit the way that the developer of that CRM thinks most people in your industry are managing their business then you’re going to want to find something else.

Industry specific CRMs can be a great thing – as long as they’re still customizable. They can give you a starting point to get your customizations going, but it’s just that – a starting point.

Whatever CRM you choose, make sure it can be customized to YOUR needs, and not everyone else’s.

Next, look for how everything is integrated

Integration is a big deal, especially if you’re going to continue using other systems in addition to whatever CRM you choose. 

For example, let’s say you’re using Constant Contact to manage your email marketing efforts, but you want to know when one of the contacts in your CRM opens an email. Well you’d better be able to connect the two systems in order to make that happen. 

Integrations can happen a lot of different ways but one of the ways that is most often talked about these days is through middleware tools like Zapier. It seems that just about every platform worth using these days can integrate with Zapier, making just about any of the software tools that you’re using capable of integrating with one another.

That said, make sure you know how you want them to integrate because the systems that you’re using may not have the right triggers or actions to do what you need them to do.

Again, this is something that you’re going to want to make sure you address with your potential CRM provider.

Are you using a CRM now? If you are, drop down and give us a like and let us know in the comments which one you’re using.

Think about pricing structure.

I’ve talked about this at length in past Facebook Live videos, on Mission Suite’s blog and others. I have to admit that it’s a bit of a soap box for me. CRM pricing can be all over the place, so you have to make sure that the pricing structure of the system that you’re using is the right one for you.

There are two main ways that CRMs are priced out these days: by user and by database size.

The price per user CRM is probably the most common pricing structure at the moment. It’s pretty straightforward, each user needs to have their own login to the system, and each login costs an extra $x per month. It can be anywhere from $12 per month to $300 per month (and possibly even more), depending on the system.

The problem here is that, if you’re trying to grow your team, this can get pretty expensive pretty quickly. If you have to pay $150 per user per month, well that makes taking a risk on a new employee that much more questionable. 

That’s one of the reasons that I’m a BIG proponent of the database pricing model for CRMs. For most businesses, it’s significantly more cost effective.

There are obviously exceptions to that rule, but more often than not, this is what I’ve experienced.

With the database pricing model, you’re billed based on the number of contacts you’re storing in your account – typically in some sort of a tiered structure. The great thing about this model is that you can add as many users to your account as you need and you won’t need to pay extra for them until you “level up” to the next tier. 

Again, more often than not, this will save you a lot of money so it’s worth looking at.

Look for great support.

One thing that I’ve learned from all of these CRM accounts that I’ve set up over the past 10 years is that, as easy as they may be, there will ALWAYS be questions. And you WILL need to be trained on how to use the system or how to use new features.

Beyond that, the way that your CRM looks when you first implement it is almost never the way that it looks 6 months to a year later. As you start using it, you’ll start to notice different things you need, changes that should be made, and different ways that you’re using it. 

You don’t want to have to work through these needs with a chatbot or community forum. 

If that’s something that you enjoy, that’s one thing, but for most business owners and sales leaders, it’s the last thing that they want to worry about.

Find a CRM platform that offers really great training and support…and doesn’t charge for it. 

I can tell you first hand that the only way that a CRM company survives is if their users keep using the platform. So shouldn’t the CRM that you’re using really act like they have a vested interest in you and your ability to use it? 

Find a CRM partner that doesn’t charge you to make sure that you can use their stuff – that’s something that they should be doing for free.

What’s Next

Don’t you wish that you had a guide to help you through all of this? We actually created a CRM Decision checklist that will help you as you go through your decision making process.

Click the link below to download our checklist to help you make your decision.

Hey I hope you got something out of this video. And if you did, go ahead and give it a thumbs up and maybe a share so that others can see it too. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our channel and ring the bell so that you’re notified whenever we post new videos and while you’re at it, check out these videos too!

We’ll see you next time around!

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