How to Select a CRM Vendor

Zoho CRM | September 18, 2012 | 2 min read

There is an endless number of CRM applications, and while we at Zoho always recommend choosing Zoho CRM, we thought we’d hand off the advice on how to choose a CRM vendor to a few consultants, Jim Berkowitz, CRM technology Coach for CRM Mastery and Eric Pozil, Managing Director for CRM Northwest.

The two led a discussion on “How to Select a CRM Vendor” at the CRM Evolution 2012 conference in New York City. They broke down the decision process into five stages: discovery, evaluation, vendor interaction, selection, and negotiation. Here are their guidelines for each stage.

Stage 1: Discovery

Form a CRM selection tiger team
Review effectiveness and efficiency of current processes
Determine needed functional requirements
Document current IT infrastructure and skill sets – Where is all your knowledge and data currently?
Determine preferred CRM delivery platforms – Cloud or on premise?
Review technical and administrative resource availability – Who is going to run this thing? What can people with no experience, a little, or a lot of experience do by themselves?
“CRM is a process not a project,” said Berkowitz. This is the most common mistaken perception about CRM. It’s not the same as an accounts payable solution for which the process really doesn’t change.

Stage 2: Evaluation

What are the CRM solutions that your company should be considering? When evaluating, separate into two camps: core functionality and non-core functionality, said Berkowitz. Core is a capability that must be in the system, and should be there, but non-core are capabilities that you would like to have because they have specific value to your industry.

Develop new or updated process requirements
Development of CRM vendor long-list
Conduct CRM vendor due diligence – Understand what these packages do.
Select short-list vendors – Once you know they do everything you need them to do, look at how they work, not what they do.
Stage 3: Vendor Interaction

How do we leverage the vendor’s experience?

Develop an internal vendor scorecard tied to top CRM properties
Provide a vendor script – Break it into precise business processes such as lead assignment, execution, and customer service escalations
Create a post-RFP discovery summary and FAQ
Implementation, training, and total cost of ownership (TCO) plan – Define all tangible costs for five years and include vendor/partner add-ons
Stage 4: Selection

Survey – Have employees fill out a score card to see what it is people like.
Compare – How do you compare the results with your business priorities?
Validate – Are there any deal breakers? Do you have any global data issues? Try to find your own references, not just the ones the vendor gives you.
Decide
Stage 5: Negotiation

Best offer – Always start with this.
Ratchet user deployment – Pay for the ones you need upfront and then add when you need more add them on.
Resource/reference exchange – Think about things you can give to the vendor that isn’t money.
Street price discovery
Negotiate at C-Level