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9 Things To Consider When You’re Looking At CRM Solutions

by Simon Spyer on Aug 2, 2017 4:52:14 PM

Best Practices For CRM Success

9 Things To Consider When You’re Looking At CRM Solutions

Marketing technology has boomed in recent years. As Scott Brinker’s supergraphic illustrates, there are 131 separate CRM solutions in 2017. 

This trend is going to continue to grow with advances in platforms, blockchain, chatbots and AI amongst others changing the dynamics and nature of customer relationships even further. If you’re in sales or marketing you can’t afford to ignore the opportunities and threats that technology brings. 

But it can be daunting  - not only identifying the right opportunities but also to make sure implementation delivers real, meaningful benefits. 

In this post we outline 9 things that we believe it's imperative for you to consider when evaluating CRM solutions; getting a grip on these points will give you the very best chance of a successful CRM implementation – for your customers, prospects and ROI.

1. Total cost of ownership

CRM is a lot more than a technology solution.

In fact there are 4 key enablers of successful CRM and the costs (and benefits) of each should be considered when making decisions on the right approach and budget for your business:

  • Data - the fuel of all effective CRM programmes. Resolving data quality issues is an integral part of a wider CRM initiative. Similarly, you may need to factor third party data costs (to support good data capture, better prospecting or analytics).
  • People - establish the key stakeholders and users of your CRM solution. It may be that you have skill or capacity gaps and need to consider training, recruitment or outsourcing.
  • Process - priortise the key activities that you want to perform from marketing automation to lead scoring and customer segmentation.
  • Technology - finally, having bottomed-out the other three areas you can start to evaluate different software solutions with a clear understanding of requirements, users, activities and direction on the potential cost:benefits.

By considering the total cost of ownership you will follow best practice and start to develop an understanding of your actual requirements.

2. Integration

It is highly likely that your CRM solution will need to integrate with other systems, typically:

  • Websites
  • Booking and ecommerce
  • Finance systems
  • Communication tools like email software
  • Business Intelligence

You many not want or need to integrate with all of these systems immediately but think about the longer term and build a practical roadmap for what you would like and when.

3. Data Migration

As above, data is a critical enabler of any CRM solution.

Unless you have a completely blank sheet of paper, you will need to think about what data you need to load into your CRM system, how and ensure that this process is completed accurately.

The importance of getting this right can't be overstated: loading a CRM system with data that you don't understand or that has quality issues will only create problems downstream and may well have a negative impact on your customers.

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4. Your Users

Adoption of any system is important and CRM can involve significant cultural changes for an organisation and new tools and frameworks are provided.

Getting close to the needs and motivations of different user groups and ensuring that their requirements are understood and that the tools provided solve their problems or help them to operate better is an important consideration.

5. Marketing objectives

You should ensure that you have clarity on your marketing objectives: what are you trying to achieve and what role does CRM play?

Many organisations make the mistake of selecting a solution or embarking on a CRM programme with only loosely defined objectives.

Without taking the time to develop SMART objectives it will be very difficult to prioritise and make judgement calls on the functionality, data and implementation roadmap that you need.

6. Customer Journey and Sales Funnel

If you think about your sales funnel or customer journey as a linear process then where are your key focus areas?

For some businesses it could be at the top of the funnel or in new customer acquisition. And for others the focus could be conversion at the bottom of the funnel or in activation and retention.

These considerations link closely to your marketing objectives and will have a bearing on the suitability of different CRM solutions.

Equally, is the path to purchase similar for most customers and completed in a short time frame or is there a lot of consideration, content consumed and a long time frame? This will also determine some of your options and their fit with your business.


GDPR is a fundamental change in data protection legislation that becomes effective in May 2018. Anyone considering CRM solutions now should be thinking about the impact of GDPR.

The effects of GDPR are profound. For a CRM solution, it has implications for:

  • How, when and who you communicate with (process)
  • Which customers or prospects have provided sufficient consent and should be included in a CRM system (data)
  • The users of your system and how access and training is monitored (people)

8. Contact strategy

Design your contact strategy before you specify and select a CRM solution.

A contact strategy defines how you contact and communicate with your customers.

By building and agreeing a contact strategy, you will have a clear plan that connects your marketing objectives to how you build relationships with your customers.

As such, it will specify the customer segments, communication channels, triggered communications and other marketing automation that a CRM programme will be required to implement.

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9. Reporting

CRM is highly measurable and the principles of test and learn mean that it should be continuously optimised.

With this in mind, think about the reporting that you will need (either within your CRM software or in a business intelligence tool) and include this in your requirements.

In Summary

So in summary, there are 9 things that we think should be considered when you are looking at CRM solutions and certainly before you make decisions on software and investment:

  • Total cost of ownership
  • Integration
  • Data migration
  • Users
  • Marketing objectives
  • Customer journey and sales funnel
  • GDPR
  • Contact strategy
  • Reporting
What are the key things that you evaluate or have struggled to define? We'd love to hear from you.
6 Ways To Make Your CRM Technology Work For You

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This post was written by Simon Spyer

Co-founder & Insight Partner at Conduit, professional insight-monger, dad, lover of all sport and Spurs.

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