The perfect CRM for you is out there, somewhere. The key to finding it depends on your team’s ability to laser focus on your goals and translate them into capabilities and features.

For the average person, this can feel overwhelming, but you have a decided advantage: the insight of seasoned experts (that’s us!). So, strap in, because we’re about to break down how to choose the perfect CRM software!

Step 1: Define Requirements & User Stories

There are thousands of CRM applications on the market, and all of them claim to be the best fit for your business. Before you even glance at any options, get your goals straight. This starts by identifying the specifics of what your business aims to achieve and the requirements for how the CRM should support that. Those requirements should be defined across sales, marketing, and services.

For example, if sales want to streamline lead management, they’ll need lead generation, qualification, distribution, and analytics capabilities. If the service team is trying to improve case management, they’ll need a CRM that includes a unified case database, case history and activity, and case registration options.

You will have lots of user stories across your categories, and that’s ok! Every stakeholder participating in the CRM selection process will contribute their unique perspectives on what they consider an “essential” capability for their department. The user stories articulate how teams will use the CRM in their daily work. They're based off the requirements you define and help create a clearer picture of how the CRM should function for each department when it's up-and-running.

Once you have all the user stories listed out, though, your goal as a team will be to rank the corresponding CRM features numerically, with number one representing the most crucial CRM feature.


Using your CRM use cases to rank features will reveal the CRM capabilities you need most and help you bypass any CRMs that don’t meet those requirements. With a ranked list of features, you can rule out ill-fitting CRMs faster and focus your selection process only on the solutions that will best match your use cases. Use this CRM requirements template to help you get started. Below is an example of how you might fill out a particular sales subsection.  

CRM selection rankings example

In this example, the 360-customer view is a crucial feature, but the most important criteria of that feature is that it has intelligent data enrichment capabilities. The team can use that insight to omit any CRMs that don’t offer intelligent data enrichment.

Step 2: Down Select Based on Ranked Features

Once you’ve ranked your CRM features according to your most important items (#1, #2, etc.), must have items (ranked lower on your list but still important), and wish list items (the lowest ranked features that fall into the “nice to have” category), you can start to review potential CRM solutions that will meet your needs.

Rate the available CRM products against your feature set. You should do this even before you see any product demonstrations. Research viable vendors and map their features to your best fitting solutions.

Once you have it narrowed down to a few products, start evaluating the stability of the vendors. Ask yourself questions like: What’s their market share? Their rating by analysts? Their industry specialization? Their deployment strategy vs our business requirements? When you actually start talking to some of these vendors during your demos, you’ll have another set of questions for them, which we’ll cover in step three.

Step 3: Schedule Demos and Ask the Right Questions

Now that you’ve done some preliminary research, it’s time to start scheduling demos with your preferred vendors. Give your vendors a script of features you would like to see and ask them to show it in the demonstration.

Factor in your budget to the conversation, too. There are some critical questions you must ask each vendor to ensure you fully understand their cost structure.  

Beyond CRM features, your CRM selection process should also consider:

  1. The scalability and customization potential of the CRM
  2. How intuitive the interface looks and feels
  3. What kind of mobile access the CRM vendor offers
  4. The integration capacity of the CRM and how well it might work with your existing applications
  5. Security features like access controls, backups, and encryption
  6. The support and training options

Many businesses partner with a CRM consultant to move this selection process along faster and keep the project organized. Stakeholders will always play a key role in your CRM selection, but an expert consultant alleviates a lot of the time-consuming research and tasks associated with the project. It’s the consultant’s job to help you find a CRM that best suits your goals and budget, and get it implemented in the time frame you want.

Whether you take on CRM selection on your own or get the help of a seasoned professional, these key steps will guide your project in the right direction. For a free consultation on your CRM needs, reach out to our team at Happy hunting!

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