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Top 5 Questions to Ask Before Purchasing a Sales CRM

In this blog post, you'll learn about the five critical questions that you and your buying team need to ask yourself when buying a Sales CRM system.

4 min read

Eric Hansen

Eric Hansen

Sep 16, 2020

Top 5 Questions to Ask Before Purchasing a Sales CRM

It’s no surprise that CRM software has become one of the biggest sectors of the industry. In fact, in 2017 it surpassed all other categories for sales and was valued at over $40 billion in 2019. As companies increasingly turn to data analytics and customer retention techniques that rely on online communities, this sector is only expected to grow — more than doubling in the next 10 years according to Grand View Research. This explosive growth is due to the fact that CRM helps sales while also boosting productivity and efficiency within organizations that use it properly. It is a force multiplier for savvy businesses, and as SaaS solutions have grown, so has this critical customer infrastructure.

But what should you look for in a CRM solution? With this sector’s growth has come a flood of contenders, so it’s understandable to feel overwhelmed when looking around for solutions.

1. Is It Flexible?

Can you add and remove features without breaking things? This adaptability is key in today’s fast-moving marketplace, especially if companies need to pivot. This flexibility is also critical for supporting many users, with predefined roles which can be modified. Perhaps most important is the ability to ingest many types of data. Today’s data collection may take the form of live social media feedback or customer satisfaction emails, but it must all be collected and processed in ways that will be meaningful to the business with a minimum of interference from the CRM product.

2. Will Your Organization Learn to Use It?

There’s always the tradeoff between power and ease-of-use. A fighter jet is capable, but complicated, whereas email is pretty simple. Today’s CRM tools must have a lower learning curve if they’re going to scale quickly across an organization. Linked to this idea: Training. There must be adequate training and support options for the product or organizations will lose time fixing bugs or figuring out how to fully use the software.

3. Can You Integrate?

Can the CRM facilitate proper integration across departments? What about partners or vendors? Your Sales CRM must be able to easily integrate with other solutions, enabling productivity and improving the efficiency of operations. The most common examples of CRM integration are integration with a cloud-based phone system, integration with a CPQ system, integration with a data analytics solution, and more. Insights gained in product teams should be shared with marketing, and cross-functional teams must be able to plug into many data types. This operational flexibility is practically a requirement in today’s fractionalized marketplace.

4. What Are the Hardware Needs?

Today’s vendors have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to options for customers. On-premise solutions are rapidly giving way to cloud-based ones, but your organization may have specific needs and a solution should be adaptable in this way as well. This extends to the front-facing portions of the software, too, as we are a mobile-first software economy and employees are often using their own devices at work.

5. How Much Does It Cost?

Obviously, a company has to keep an eye on the bottom line, but the cost of a CRM solution isn’t just what you pay to license it. There’s the full cost of integration into your existing software suites, the training required to get your teams up to speed, and the ongoing costs of the service.

The last thing you want to do is buy a CRM that won’t scale with your meteoric rise to the top of the food chain, right? While considerations like cost might be obvious, it’s important to weigh the hidden costs, too. As we’ve seen, integrations can take longer than expected. Not everyone is as tech-savvy as we might like. And down time or ongoing bugs can put a kink in the best laid plans of any business.

What you’re ideally looking for is a solution that feels like it was made just for your business needs, but connects to everything you’re using already and might use going forward. It will have rock-solid stability, a way to use all of its features on mobile, and generous licensing terms to help you affordably scale. After all, the point of CRM is to help you grow the business!

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