If you’ve never used Customer Relationship Management software before (CRM) it might be a little scary to start looking for one. How do you even know what to look for? Maybe you know the goals your company wants to reach but are unsure which CRM features would achieve them. You don’t have to have all the answers going in; just enough to narrow down your options to a general outline. Once you’ve done that, your customer service representative will help you narrow it even further through more detailed analysis. For now, here are a few questions to consider as you begin your search:

1. What keeps you awake at night?

We’re not talking about the national deficit or the fact that most six year olds have their own tablets; we’re talking about the state of your business. Think about the biggest challenges your business is facing. Is there something preventing you from increasing your business or entering new markets? What would improve productivity for your sales team? Marketing department? Customer service reps? It might be one great, big issue, but each department may also face smaller, specific challenges. This is a good time to have some quality discussions with coworkers/employees to discover those perspectives. Once you understand each, you can draw the parallels between them to get the bigger picture.

2. Are there any IT or business software changes that might impact a CRM?

Which systems are you currently working with? Who is your email provider? Do you have an ERP system? Make sure you know the answers to these questions going in; they will help your customer service rep. gauge which CRM is right for you and if you need any add-on programs. You want a CRM that can integrate with your current systems to enhance their use, not work against them.

3. What kind of growth do you project?

Sure, you can get a CRM system that fits your current needs, but what about next year? Five years from now? Ten years? It’s important to know your growth projections to anticipate if your CRM will be able to keep up. If your company is going to branch into some new endeavor, will you need additional functions? If you hire 200 more people, will the CRM capabilities you’re considering be enough?

4. Do you have documented, established processes for sales? Leads? Quoting?

You may already have some processes that work very well for your teams. Your CRM system must organize and improve the processes you want to keep and help eliminate the processes that are eating up valuable time and resources. The new CRM will certainly be a change for everyone, so you need to keep the learning curve in mind. Take the time to think about which processes need to evolve, and which must remain cemented in your culture. Keep that in the back of your mind when you speak to your customer service rep. It will help guide your choice. Questions will come up, concerns will arise, but if you go in with these basics, you will have a good starting point. Choose a reseller that you trust to provide you with the most honest and well-thought out options for your business. They should be able to speak to your questions and concerns, but also know the right questions to ask YOU to discover your true needs.

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