Sebastián Barbosa O./November 25, 2022 /Dynamics 365/CRM/ 8 min read

10 things to consider when choosing the right CRM system for your business

Keep this entry for future references

Besides considering your company’s needs, demands, and challenges, there’s much more to keep in mind when choosing the right customer relationship management (CRM) system to avoid an unsuccessful implementation. Evaluating and looking for the right implementation partner is one of the main steps before the ones we’re about to break down in this blog, so you must do thorough research to find the most suitable vendor and best CRM software.

Amongst several CRM options to choose from, the process of selecting the most suitable one can become time-consuming due to the myriad of tools and features each provides. To help you simplify this process and pick the right CRM system, here are the ten essential things to consider before figuring out which one will work best for you.

1. Identify and specify your needs

The first thing to consider when choosing the proper CRM system is identifying what your business needs are. Take into account your daily tasks, sales processes, and types of customer interactions while consulting each team (especially sales, marketing, and customer service teams).

It’s imperative to identify your company’s challenges and the issues that must be solved to determine the most helpful CRM features and tools that your organization will require. And when consulting your team, make sure you learn more about their experiences with customer engagement and customer data to discover what they need in a CRM to gain efficiency and improve sales.

For instance, Freshwave Group, a leading network service provider in the United Kingdom, used to carry out their operations with a free version of Trello. They identified that its functionalities became limited with overall performance constraints as the company’s support operations expanded and became more complex.

That’s when they realized they needed a robust CRM system like Microsoft Dynamics 365 solutions that would allow them to track customer issues, record all interactions related to support cases, create and track service levels through SLAs, manage performance and productivity, leverage complete integration with RANmate, Uptime Robot system management solutions, and other customer accounts.

2. Study the type of CRM you need according to your needs

The clearer your needs are, the easier your decision will be. You might think you already know the needs of your own company, but the truth is several people can feel confused when they’re asked this question.

You must carefully study the different CRM software applications that companies are offering. Let’s pretend you encounter a compelling sales team that pitches their product in the most convincing way. Now, if you don’t have a clear idea of your needs, you might be pulled in different paths and end up stalled, believing every basic CRM software fits equally well as a more advanced one. And eventually, you could end up picking the wrong CRM system without meeting your real needs.

This step could demand exhaustive time since the CRM options are quite extensive. However, the list will cut down dramatically after identifying their features and capabilities that will not be useful to face your company’s needs. Among the top CRM systems worldwide, there’s Salesforce, Dynamics 365, Oracle, and HubSpot, which bring several benefits to large, medium, and small companies.

For instance, Salesforce helps orchestrate complex corporate logic and unify multiple real-time data sources; however, the learning curve is quite high and would not be the best option for small organizations and simple sales processes. Dynamics 365 is a comprehensive adaptable business platform that modernizes the workforce, optimizing different areas by exploiting real-time data and increasing productivity; however, its focus is more on medium and large enterprises rather than small ones.

Oracle combines analytical, transactional, and engagement features to quickly automate and manage every customer-facing operation; however, its planning area lacks efficiency and is currently a basic functionality. Lastly, HubSpot is an intuitive tool with a solid support team that offers a free version; however, numerous add-on features require upgrading and eventually need the paid version to have proper business operations.

3. Analyze very well all the tools and features available

When looking for specific benefits of CRM software platforms, consider how data-driven and customer-centric each one is, alongside their general features. The best CRM software in 2022 at least includes marketing automation, contact management, and lead tracking for monitoring sales tasks and marketing campaigns.

Consider a comprehensive CRM software that allows your team access to customer information, perform end-to-end operations, and easily monitor the sales pipeline. Depending on your business requirements, some CRM systems also enable employees to execute different user-friendly processes on smartphones for on-the-go sales and tasks.

4. On-premise, cloud-based, or what? Check what’s best for you

Each CRM option brings huge benefits to a specific enterprise. You ought to know the difference between each and identify which is more suitable for your business needs and operations.

For instance, with the on-premises CRM, employees can access it anytime without an internet connection. It means that your operations can still run with this system whenever internet outages occur or external servers go down. Additionally, organizations can customize their CRM as needed after buying the license to the software.

However, since it doesn’t update automatically, teams would need to back up their data to physical servers, and it also requires additional expenses to maintain and update the on-premises CRM to stay up-to-date in constantly changing environments. Remember to evaluate if these upgrades will fit your budget since there are different costs for upgrades, monthly subscriptions, individual ones, and maintenance when required.

On the other hand, cloud-based CRM systems rely on the Software as a Service (SaaS) model, which means you’re accessing the system via the internet after paying a subscription to a company or purchasing licenses for your users. In this case, there’s no need to frequently back up data since all the information is automatically stored and kept online.

Therefore, the information is accessible from any location connecting to the internet (whereas the on-premise is typically installed on individual devices or on-site servers). That way, employees will be working with the latest version of documents and files at any time, reducing costs and time dramatically. Opting for seamless software like Dynamics 365 for Marketing, Customer Service, Sales, and more will definitely meet these criteria and bring several more helpful capabilities.

5. Check if it can be integrated into your scheme

Checking if the CRM system can be integrated with your existing marketing automation solution providers, sales processes, customer service operations, task management systems, and additional third-party SaaS platforms will save you a lot of money.

Your implementation partner can help you improve the CRM’s customization and functionalities depending on its compatibility with your other business apps. It’s also essential to find out beforehand if these tools and features can keep up with your company’s operations or if upgrading to a newer version is possible. That way, you will save costs and time in the future whenever your business changes, evolves or expands.

6. Be aware of its learning curve

Another critical aspect to consider is the learning curve. Some companies find themselves in a rush absorbing new information all at once, bombarding users throughout the learning process with so much information in a short period that they end up all confused and mentally exhausted.

Considering the human factor and avoiding tedious and daunting training is vital. Understanding that employees are the ones who are going to use the CRM software and not a machine working by itself might sound obvious, yet it’s not considered at all times. During the learning curve, teams might have to keep handling existing operations and customers and doing their actual jobs, which requires progressive training where they can ask, learn, and practice gradually.

Last but not least, ensure your implementation partner provides training throughout the process so you can start learning about your new CRM software from beginning to end to facilitate readiness when it’s needed most.

7. Check its reputation

Not only should you check the CRM software’s reputation but also your partner’s reputation. It’s important to verify the essential factors to consider in a partner, such as their required skillset, tech-savviness, and industry expertise, to reduce risks and run a smooth and effective CRM implementation.

Regarding the CRM system, numerous known or not so recognized organizations develop platforms for any sector, but not everyone can meet your goals. Double-check their certifications, experience, clients, partners, and overall functionalities to ensure which can truly help your business without organizational push-back.

8. How much is your budget?

Besides setting the business needs and goals, your budget must be clear from the very beginning. The cost of CRM varies depending on its providers, types, and functionalities. Common CRM software partners provide subscription-based models and charge you for each user monthly or yearly.

Prices range between $9/mo per user to $79/mo per user, and some CRM systems include free trials for up to 30 days. Many CRM companies offer discounts when paying an upfront fee for a whole year instead of a per-month basis. Also, some add-ons are included in the overall price, whilst others charge an additional monthly fee.

Remember, these extra costs could differ depending on what CRM you choose (on-premise vs. cloud-based), and some vendors or CRM systems may have hidden license and implementation fees you must be aware of. Besides the annual subscription, you must consider additional fees if you require setup, training, data migration, parallel sales tools, VoIP and telephony, or extra integrations.

According to ZoomInfo, larger enterprises are more likely to spend the most on CRM projects. Companies with over 1,000 employees pay around $174,000 on CRM software, whereas organizations with more than 10,000 workers spend approximately $450,000. However, small and medium ones (less than 900 employees) top the highest number of CRM implementations, costing an average of $3,000, $60.000, or $100,000. Remember that costs vary depending on the number of users, implying a total yearly amount and implementation fees that will be solely for the project.

9. Be sure to check if they include all kinds of support

Another relevant aspect is checking what types of support both the partner and CRM system provide. Be careful with some vendors that might offer assistance only at the beginning, and their support is almost nil once the implementation is finished (this is connected to verifying their reputation beforehand).

Nevertheless, other vendors provide lifetime assistance, ensuring they’re not only after closing a deal but strengthening relationships with their clients while building trust along the implementation journey. This is a key aspect in order to avoid future transition costs from one partner to another.

10. Try before you buy

With the numerous types of CRM software, you can feel doubtful about certain functionalities. That’s why you must ask for a live demo session in which an expert consultant illustrates how the CRM operates and clears your doubts along the process.

Some implementation companies also provide free trials to try the user experience with their CRM’s platform and test drive its features. Therefore, different teams can assess the CRM’s effectiveness in specific tasks so everyone can ensure how functional and valuable it can be for their operations.

Considering these ten essential aspects before selecting the proper CRM system for your business will absolutely facilitate this process while bringing peace of mind to your decisions. Amongst the several CRM options, there will always be the right one for your business, which you must carefully examine when comparing their differences.

A CRM platform is an exceptional way to enhance your company’s sales, customer relationships, performance, and everyday operations. And conducting a thorough study of your business needs, challenges, and budget will increase the chance of picking the right CRM system and implementation partner for an effortless learning curve with lasting results.

Besides learning how to pick the most suitable CRM for every external and internal customer interaction with your company, you should also analyze ERP options if you’re also looking to manage and automate your organization’s financials, operations, supply chain, and overall business processes. Before choosing the right ERP for your company, we highly recommend thorough analysis and comparison between available solutions in the market. Some solutions like Dynamics 365 even bring together the most intelligent, integrated, and efficient ERP, CRM, and other business apps to make the most out of your daily operations.

Thank you.

Be part of this new digital era. Following the mentioned 10 things to consider will bring massive differences to your selling and customer experience that won't disappoint you or your customers.

Sebastián Barbosa O.

Read more blog entries by Sebastián Barbosa O.

Read more: Dynamics 365 | CRM

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