Choosing the right CRM can be a challenge. And, speaking as someone who’s led their fair share of CRM transitions, I can tell you that it’s not something that you want to have to do more than you absolutely have to.
But how do you know which CRM is the right one for your business?
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.
Most of my videos focus in around sales, networking and referrals. But it’s been brought to my attention that I rarely talk directly about CRMs. More specifically, how to figure out which CRM is going to work best for your businesses.
Now, obviously I never talk about CRM – or even mention the term – without throwing Mission Suite into the mix. And that’s because I really do believe that, if you’re exploring CRM options, Mission Suite should be a part of that exploration.
But why? Why do I think that it’s something that’s worth looking at? And what do I tell others to look at when they’re evaluating their options?
I promise, this isn’t going to be a 10 minute video about Mission Suite, rather a deep dive into the different things that I tell people to focus on when they’re making their decisions on which CRM to partner with for their business.
There’s no one size fits all answer to this question – no matter how much money the big guys spend to make you think that there is – and there are times when your needs are going to push you in one direction or the other.
My goal in today’s video isn’t to convince you that you need to work with Mission Suite, or not work with another platform. My goal is simply to arm you with the right decision making criteria and give you some perspective on how to collect the right information to make the best decision for your business.
How it works
First of all, and probably not surprisingly, you need to take a look at how the system works from a contact management perspective. No matter what else is on your list, if the system doesn’t manage your information the way that you need it to, it’s going to be a challenge to get it to work correctly.
Here are the key things that I look for:
First of all, do you work from the company level or the contact level? I know that may seem like a strange question, but it’s an important one.
If you need to prioritize working at the company level, then working with a system that is contact focused can be a challenge because all of the information can feel backwards.
Typically I see this a lot from people who employ a more targeted account sales approach. They start with a list of companies and then start to fill in the key information that they need about the company and the decision makers tend to simply be a part of that information collection.
On the flip side, and if you’re like most people that I talk to, if you’re working from a contact perspective and you’re out there looking for people to do business with, regardless of whether they’re on a targeted list, then working with an account or company based CRM can be really cumbersome and require a lot of duplicate entry of information.
Next, does the platform you’re considering allow for you to easily customize your contact records? Can you add as many custom fields as you want to? Or are you limited?
One of the really challenging things that I see time and again with CRM clients is that what your CRM looks like when you launch it is almost never what you want it to look like when you’ve been using it for six months.
If you’re going to need to upgrade or pay for someone to help you make changes to it then it can start to add up pretty quickly.
Lastly, are you able to easily pull ALL of your information out of the system if you decide to change to a different platform?
I always used to think that this was a no brainer, but recently I’ve had some experiences where that’s not necessarily the case. Believe it or not, there are some CRM platforms out there that will allow you to export contact data, but not export past activity history. There are some platforms that will allow you to export contact information and activity history, but not let you export your deals and opportunities. There are even some CRMs out there that make you UPGRADE to export some of this stuff!
You don’t want to be locked into one CRM, especially if it no longer serves your needs, and you don’t want to lose historical information. Ultimately, it’ll always be better to work with a company that doesn’t try to hold your data hostage.
Native functionality is another key factor to consider in your decision to move forward with a CRM.
These days, there is no shortage of integration tools out there. And I’m a HUGE fan of tools like Zapier that make it easy to connect your CRM (and other tools) to other platforms.
The challenge that you’re always going to run into, though, is that the information that gets passed back and forth between your tools is going to be limited.
If you only need contact information sent to your CRM from your email marketing platform, then this might be fine. If you need read history, click throughs, and other specific data, then you’d better make sure that the system that you’re using has that capability built into it.
Let’s take Salesforce as an example. Everyone talks about them like they’re a massive platform with huge functionality. The reality is that Salesforce doesn’t really DO much beyond storing your contacts. They just have been around long enough that everyone develops a connection to them so the information is sent back and forth…as long as no one changes the Mailchimp password.
On the other hand, systems like Mission Suite, Hubspot, InfusionSoft, etc. all have those tools developed natively inside the system so you don’t have to wonder if the connection is working correctly – it’s just there.
If you don’t think that’s going to ever matter to you – you’ll never want to do any sort of email campaigning, you’ll never need to automate your marketing or sales information, you’ll never need to build out landing pages…I could go on for a while…then you may not need anything more than a solid contact storage system, and that’s ok.
If you think there will ever be a chance that you will want to do those things, you want to at least take some time to consider this as you make your decision.
Usability is another big decision making factor that you’ll need to account for in choosing a CRM.
I don’t care if you have a team of 30 people or if it’s just you using the CRM, if it doesn’t work for you and it’s cumbersome to use, navigate and add information, you’re not going to use it.
Don’t waste time and don’t waste money on a platform that you have any questions about when it comes to usability. If it doesn’t feel right then walk away because it’s just going to cause frustration and you’re going to end up walking away from it eventually.
Most, if not all CRM platforms, have some way to test the usability and get into the system and explore it and get a feel for how the different features work, so take advantage of that.
For example, Mission Suite doesn’t have a free trial, but we can give you access to a public demo account that will let you explore a live account.
Some other systems do allow you to set up a free trial account to test with.
Whatever the avenue you’re offered, take it. Try it out and make sure that it feels like a good fit.
One last note on this – if you’re moving away from a different CRM system, keep in mind that the user experience is going to feel foreign to you, and that could make you question the usability. If you’re in that situation, write out a list of key functions you want to make sure you know how to do and get on the phone with your account rep to see how you do those things. And make sure that YOU’RE the one doing the driving. Don’t just watch someone else execute on these tasks; you need to make sure that you know how to do it.
Pricing is a bit of a no brainer, and it’s something that everyone asks about, but I’m going to go beyond simply the dollar cost here. When I say pricing, I want you to look at their pricing MODEL.
There are two different pricing models for these types of platforms – user based and database based. I’ve talked and written a lot about this in the past because it is such an important thing to focus on.
User based platforms are the ones that everyone is familiar with. Basically, it means that I pay a set amount of money for each user “seat” or license that I need. So if I have 10 people, I’m paying for 10 individual licenses. If the cost per user is $100 then I’m paying $1,000 for my entire team to have access to the system.
This model has been around forever and it’s the way that a lot of CRMs price their software. Salesforce, Pipedrive, etc, most of them use some sort of user based pricing model.
On the other side of that is the database model. The database model looks at the total number of contacts in your system and bills you based on that instead of the number of users that you have.
Mission Suite uses this model, so I’ll use our pricing as an example. If you have 10,000 contacts or less then you’re coming in at $300/month, irrespective of the number of users accessing your system. So if those contacts are spread across the same team of 10 people as the example I used in the user based pricing, you can save a lot of money that way.
There can be challenges with this model, too, though. I’ve spoken to some clients who have a small team but a massive number of contacts. If that’s the case, typically it doesn’t make sense (financially, anyway) to go that way.
My last point here – beware the hybrid model. There are some platforms out there that bill you based on the number of contacts that are in your system AND the number of users in your account. Or they’ll give you a certain number of users for a base price and then extra users cost more. This can rack up the cost of your system REALLY quickly, so be aware of that when you see these options.
Training and Support
And lastly, and possibly most importantly, the training and support offering.
It doesn’t matter how good of a team you have, someone’s going to have questions about how to use the system. Whether it’s you trying to figure out your setup, an assistant trying to figure out why they don’t have access or a sales person wondering why their email didn’t go out.
You don’t want to find yourself in a position where you have questions and you have to spend an hour and a half looking for the answer in some community forum.
Make sure that the platform that you’re reviewing has training and support options that work for you and that can actually provide you answers. Make sure that they have solid resources to help your users get trained on the ins and outs of the system – at least the parts that they need to be using.
Training and support is typically the number one complaint that shows up in industry surveys – and it’s the reason that most people abandon their CRMs. This is something that you should be scrutinizing pretty carefully because it makes a huge difference.
Go With What’s Going to Work Best for You
As you look at all of these different decision making criteria, it’s important to remember that ultimately this decision has to serve your business. Don’t just pick the industry standard for your industry.
You’re not your industry. You’re one business inside of that industry, and your needs are always going to be different from your peers.
Take all of these decision making criteria into account and figure out for yourself how to weigh them. Maybe you need to pay more for some functionality, or you prefer the user experience of separate platforms for your email marketing and your CRM.
You’re the only one who can make the decision here and I hope I’ve given you some clear guidelines to use in your decision making process!
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!
Want more information on choosing the right CRM? Check out our article, Why You Should Look at an Alternative to Salesforce.