CRM Selection Process Part I: CRM Purpose and Stakeholder Input

Dec 13, 2017 | General

CRM Selection Process Part I: CRM Purpose and Stakeholder Input

This is part I of a four part series on best practices for handling your CRM Selection Process. It’s a challenge to select the right CRM to meet your company’s needs. There are literally hundreds of CRM options to choose from. The temptation is to start doing demos to see which ones you like, but that would be a mistake. With so many options, similar in services and cost, how are you going to evaluate them? Sometimes it feels like tossing a coin would give you just as good a chance at making the “right” choice.
With patience and determination, you can narrow down the playing field and come up with the solution that best meets your needs. In this first part of a four part article on the CRM selection process, we’ll explore the first steps you need to take BEFORE you even start coming up with a list of potential CRM vendors.
As you follow each step, it is critically important to document, document, document. Record meetings, take notes, make spreadsheets, so you can actually use the data you’re working so hard to gather.

Step #1: Why are you undertaking this process? 

Your search for the perfect CRM begins with a clear understanding of why you are undertaking this process, your CRM purpose. OK, that sounds obvious, but it’s not always so. CRM systems are all about improving relationships between you, your company and anyone you contact. So in your organization, what needs to be improved?
  • Are there processes that need to be implemented or improved?
  • Are you seeing gaps in your service that are costing you, customers?
  • Is there wasted effort or inefficiencies with your staff?
  • Do you have trouble putting your hands on accurate information – in one spot? Is data scattered across your organization? Is it available to some but not all who need it?
  • What is not having a CRM costing your organization? 

Step #2: Who will be in charge?

A key aspect of your CRM selection process is to determine who will be in charge. Again this sounds simple, right? Let’s explore some common misperceptions.

Some organizations will toss this responsibility to their IT department. The thought process here is that CRM involves software, so IT knows best. Wrong! IT should be involved but not leading the process. CRM is more about process than technology. CRM involves what it takes to create, build and grow customer relationships and that is not an IT decision. Since process is paramount with CRM, the customer-facing staff doing the work are closest to the process.  

Others will ask an admin to gather and collect information, then report back. This approach often leads to a CRM decision based on comparing features and price, which are only a small portion of the decision making process. It also ignores the broad big picture goals that span the organization.For your CRM to be effective once implemented, it requires leadership that has a clear vision. This vision spans the organization, seeing who the CRM will touch, how it should be used at all levels and what the results are that the organization is seeking. The most effective person to lead this process would be someone at a senior level within your organization.

Step #3: Identify Your Stakeholders

A thorough CRM selection process requires getting accurate and complete input from your stakeholders, both managers and end users:
  • Who are your stakeholders? Management might be defined as those who use the CRM to generate financial, sales and marketing reports (they may not all be managers – perhaps your CEO’s admin is the one who actually runs the reports, so be sure to get their input as well). They can relay their frustration with the information they are able to get out of the current system.
  • End users are those who put information into the system – salespeople, customer service representatives, data entry clerks, etc.  These are the folks who can tell you the inefficiencies and pain points of the current system.
  • Don’t overlook those who manage the system from an IT perspective. They will understand how the CRM system needs to interact with other systems – and may have ideas about how a new system might lead to consolidation and replacement of older systems. You also want to know their technical support expectations – when and how do they want to contact the CRM software’s technical support team.
Remember, without buy-in, it’s likely your CRM will not be accepted, and a high adoption rate is critical to avoid failure. Take your time when selecting and involving your stakeholders. The more comprehensive your data gathering, the better your results.
If you would like more detailed insight on the value and issues of CRM implementation, as well as a workbook, to help you through the process, please download our guide to stronger customer relationships, by clicking here
Since 1994, AspenTech CRM has worked with hundreds of companies to identify their CRM needs. We understand how to interview and ask the right questions to gather the information necessary to enable you to make informed decisions. Ready to get started? Get in touch today.
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