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.
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