• Posted On Tuesday, September 19, 2017 by Evan Lamolinara


    The right customer relationship management (CRM) system can make a world of difference in your ability to acquire new customers, retain existing customers, and ultimately foster stronger and more meaningful relationships with your company's target audience.

    Statistics show that just a 5% increase in customer retention rates yields a 50% increase in lifetime customer profits on average. For certain industries like insurance, however, this number jumps to 90%. CRM is particularly effective for this purpose, as it's designed specifically to improve the relationships a company has with its customers. When customers are happy and satisfied, they are more likely to continue doing business with the respective company.

    But CRM solutions change on a regular basis. As software and technology evolves over time, CRM providers must also adapt to meet the ever-changing needs of business owners. So, if you're looking to invest in a CRM system for your company, consider the following tips outlined below in our 2017 CRM buyer's guide.

    Define Your Goals

    Before you can choose an effective CRM system for your company, you must first define your goals. In other words, what do you hope to achieve with a new CRM system? Different CRMs have their own features and specifications. By defining your goals, you can choose CRMs with features that are most beneficial to your company.

    Conduct a Technology Audit

    In addition to defining your goals, you should also conduct a technology audit of your company before selecting a CRM system. Granted, your company's IT department can probably handle this task. With a technology audit, you'll have a better understanding of what software and technologies your company uses and whether they can be integrated into a CRM system.

    Look Beyond Your Existing CRM

    One of the most common mistakes business owners and professionals make when choosing a new CRM system is basing their decision on familiarity. They choose a CRM system that's similar to their current system, believing it will make integration easier. Unfortunately, though, this isn't the most effective strategy. If you're looking to invest in a new CRM system, it usually means there's something wrong with your current system. And if that's the case, why would you choose a system that's similar to your current system?

    Don't be afraid to look beyond your CRM, even if it means a higher level of difficulty when setting up and integrating it into your company's operations.

    CRM Requirements

    What specifically do you need in a CRM system? According to one study, "ease of use" is the single most important CRM feature for businesses. If a CRM system is overly complicated and technical, you may struggle to use it effectively, in which case an alternative solution would be better.

    Of course, there are other things you should look for in a CRM system, such as automation, database compatibility, response times, accessibility, price, integration and more. The bottom line is that you need to identify your company's CRM requirements in order to choose the right one.

    Explore the Top CRM Vendors

    Once you've made a list of your CRM requirements, you can begin exploring some of the market's top CRM vendors. You can typically find specifications and features of CRM systems online, including the vendor's own website as well as third-party sites. Furthermore, some vendors allow prospective buyers to "test drive" their CRM systems. By test driving a CRM system, you'll get a better idea of how it works and whether or not it's right for your company. With that said, these demo versions don't contain the CRM's full functionality, so certain features may be restricted until you buy the full version.

    Review Industry-Leading CRM Analysis Reports

    You can also review CRM analysis reports to help you determine which solution is right for your company. The Forrester Wave: CRM Suites, for instance, is one such report that uses a 36-point system to evaluate the market's top CRM solutions. Using this criteria, it scores vendors like Microsoft, Oracle, NetSuite, Infor, Pegasystems, Salesforece, SAP and more. The Forrester Wave: CRM Suites report is intended to help business owners make better decisions regarding which CRM solution is right for their company.

    In addition to Forrester Wave: CRM Suites, other industry-leading CRM analysis reports include Gartner Magic Quadrants, Nucleus Research Value Matrix, and OVUM Decision Matrix. Feel free to access multiple reports when deciding when CRM solution is best suited for your company.

    Ask the Right Questions

    Finally, you should ask vendors the right questions when choosing a new CRM system. Do you offer cloud and on-premise solutions? Can I customize my solution? What type of support do you offer? Is the system intuitive and easy to use? What type of return on investment (ROI) can I expect after using your system? Can I import existing customer data to your system? These are all questions you should consider asking vendors when selecting a CRM system.

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