CRM Selection Process Part IV: Three Steps to Vendor Selection

Jan 17, 2018 | General

In this fourth part of our four-part article on the CRM selection process, we’ll look at how to organize your vendor options.
In parts one and two, we reviewed all the steps you need to take before you even look at vendor options. Part three dealt with creating and managing the vendor RFP process. With the comprehensive requirements you gathered in hand, and proposals on the table, how do you proceed to make the best decision?

Step 1: Ranking Proposals

The first step is to review how well the RFPs you received align with your requirements. If something proposed is not an “exact” match, ask questions to clarify, and track the answers. Pay attention to how your questions are handled – are your questions “questioned”? Do you receive answers to your questions in a timely fashion? Are the answers to your questions clear and given in easy-to-understand language rather than in tech-speak? Remember, a company is going to treat you best when they are trying to sell you – once they’ve sold you, it’s unlikely you will get better service than you received during the sales phase of your relationship. If you feel like you are being treated poorly now – that’s a red flag for the future.

Step 2: Control the Dog & Pony Shows

Vendors like to show off their wares, but be sure their presentations meet your needs. Don’t allow them to just show up with their standard presentation – talk to each vendor ahead of time and let them know your expectations. Give each vendor the same information about what you and your team want to see. Make sure key stakeholders and influencers are invited and meet with your team after the presentation to get their feedback.
All demos look good, but what is it really like to use the CRM? There may be value in considering setting up a free trial account of your top CRM candidates. In your trial, make sure you put a sample set of data in the system. Encourage stakeholders and influencers to test drive the system and do what their normal tasks are. Then evaluate their feedback.

Step 3: Select & Negotiate

Once you’ve decided on the proposal(s) that fit best, now it’s time to enter the negotiation process. What are the things that are not exact fits to your requirements? What can the vendor do to accommodate your specific needs? Also be clear on how the pricing works and what is included. Make sure the specific responsibilities for the vendor and your organization are spelled out. One example, who will be doing the design and data import? In another example, customer support is an add-on with one vendor but included with another, slightly more expensive, vendor, you may find the cost much higher than you anticipated. Perhaps the “add-on” cost vendor might include a certain number of customer support hours free for the first six months of your contract. Be very clear, is there a contract and what are the terms. If it’s a multi-year contract what are the rates beyond year one? If your user counts go down, are you able to reduce the user-count for the balance of your contract? Is the pricing for add-on apps or modules guaranteed?


As you can see from this four-part series, there is a lot of work involved to successfully implement a CRM system. Over the years CRM vendors have made great strides in making their systems more user-friendly. It wasn’t too long ago that embarking on a CRM implementation could be a 1-2 year process. That’s not to say today it’s a cake walk.
There is still a need to balance the significant time and resource commitment that your company has to put into the organization and management of your CRM implementation process. Stop for a second and think about it. What do you know about CRM systems? It’s not like you implement them each and every day. Ideally, you’ll do this once.
Does your organization have the desire and capacity to take on the required learning curve to guarantee a successful CRM implementation? If you have doubts about this, understand that doing it ‘half-way’ is going to virtually guarantee disappointing results.
If your company is ready for a CRM system, but you don’t want to undertake the CRM selection process internally, then an alternative would be to work with a CRM professional. A CRM professional will bring clarity, objectivity, analytical thinking, strategic planning, technical mastery and a thorough understanding of CRM processes to your organization. For the investment in the CRM professional’s skills, you will be dramatically increasing the success of your CRM system implementation and your ROI. Remember satisfied customers = greater profit. Curious about what your CRM can do for your business?…click here to read more.
For a detailed look into the value and issues of CRM implementation, as well as a workbook to help you in the process, download our guide to stronger customer relationships, by clicking here.
AspenTech CRM has worked with hundreds of companies, to bring them the CRM platform and tools they need to successfully implement their new system. Take the complexity out of your CRM selection process – give us a call today (866) 880-4228.