Choosing a CRM in a sea of, let’s face it, similar competitors can be a tricky business. Now that many businesses are realising the value of a good CRM, it’s more important than ever that clear, concise information is available. CRMs are great, and can really help firms integrate many far-flung aspects of their sales process. That’s why we’ve assembled 11 handy expert questions to help you get the best out of your decision.

  • What do you need?

It’s hard to imagine a business committing to the big decision to switch to a CRM, without ever really deciding what it’s for. But it happens. A lot. To avoid this, Steven Bavister from LexisClick recommends you start with a list of criteria, and use that to find your ideal system. All those fine words about efficiency and usability won’t mean much if you don’t know why you need them.  Score factors if you have to, but the key thing is to make sure that what you get reflects what you need.

  • Is that really what you need?

Ok, you might have some goals that look like they would fit well with a CRM of your choosing. That’s great! But ask yourself what those goals entail. Pacing yourself is key, warns Dani Buckley from CSS. If you get fixated on an idyllic version of your commercial needs, you’re liable to get a rude awakening when the project turns out to be an overcomplicated dud.

  • Are you sure you don’t need it?

Maybe you’ve answered no to the above questions. Maybe your system works just fine. Brilliant. But make sure you come to this conclusion from a reasoned viewpoint. Businesses are often very comfortable with their processes, writes Rikki Lear from Digital 22. Even if a CRM is sleeker and more efficient, firms, even large ones, can be unusually static. A CRM can often really help your sales, so make sure your decision to abstain is the right one.

  • Will your sales team use it?

Ok, you’re back on board. You need a CRM, and you know what it’s for and how you will use it. But, as Christine Verska from Creative Momentum notes, many firms forget to bring their plans back down to earth. If your sales team can’t work it into your existing practices and goals, it’s unlikely to become a useful tool. So make sure to check this compatibility issue early on, before you’ve invested in a product.

  • Should they use it?

Don’t fall victim to the “shiny bauble” school of product acquisition, notes Kyle Bento. A CRM is a powerful tool, but too often it can be foisted on a team without warning. The goal is to enhance efficiency, so make sure that the product you choose actually does that, and doesn’t just create complications.

  • Did you ask them?

While it may seem pedantic to have so many questions devoted to your sales team, you should remember just how critical they are to the CRM acquisition process. If you don’t consult them, you are leaving yourself open to an array of painful problems in future, from uptake to usability. So make sure you consult beforehand, and work sales into your process. That way, you can enhance the value of your new product, and ensure a seamless swap-over, notes Caleb Edwards, of Greenhouse Agency.

  • Sales team data

A CRM without data is like a vehicle without fuel. It won’t and can’t go. So make sure to lay the groundwork for your CRM beforehand. If you know that certain information would really enhance its use, then get going on getting that data. Don’t wait until afterwards, and avoid a slow spin-up process.

  • Will it work for you?

Your CRM strategy will likely be unique to you, so make sure it can do what you need. If you’re jumping from a manual sales system to a full management product, make sure you aren’t buying blind. Check its features, and what it can and cannot do. Curtis Longford, from oe:gen ltd, cautions against buying “as is” and “out of the box”, with the expectation that the product will just work. A CRM is a long term investment, so make sure you’re ready for the new possibilities, and also the responsibilities.

  • Will it work with your other tools?

It’s not enough to focus on features. Many firms, noted Jared Houghton, have a complex web of tools and products at their disposal. Throwing a CRM into the mix is a step not to be taken lightly. So plan ahead, and make sure what you need, will work with, or at least be replaced by, your new product.

  • What else can it do?

CRM’s tend to be large, complex pieces of software. It might be tempting to ignore some of the more esoteric features, and use what you know. This is a mistake, and a limiting one at that. So don’t just take notes. Make sure you check the documentation properly, or vest that responsibility in a team. That way, your CRM’s possibilities will be available should you want it, and still there if you don’t, notes Raylee Melton of SparkReaction.

  • Do you know your limits?

A CRM is a valuable sales tool. It is not, however, a sales department. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you have suddenly broken free of your processes and strategies, notes Saher Ghattas, Flawless Inbound. Rather, your CRM should form an important capstone on those functions, enhancing, but not replacing them.

So there you have it. Make sure you ask yourself the whole list, and answer truthfully. This is a big step, and any big step deserves comparable consideration.