Once upon a time, not so very long ago, if you threw out the acronym for Customer Relationship Management in a casual conversation, the look on your listeners’ faces was often…blank or puzzled. Not surprisingly, that would be because CRM was definitely NOT a household word. And I’d venture to say it still depends very much on your audience.
But I find it interesting that today, on a popular site like eHow, you can find a pretty good article on How to Choose a CRM System, where (in my esteemed opinion) pretty good = concise and to the point.
While his focus is a bit simplistic and narrow (he’s addressing just the Sales Force Automation aspect of CRM, whereas most CRM systems include Marketing Automation and Service Management as well), here’s what Mark Ritchie, eHow Contributor, has to say:
“Much talk has taken place about customer relationship management (CRM) and sales force automation (SFA) but many people ask why they should take the time to use them. CRM applications provide a centralized location for all of your prospects, which gives your reps the ability to utilize better information to create a one-on-one sales approach on all your leads. Using the correct CRM solution can increase sales and enhance customer satisfaction.”
He then goes on to boil down his advice to 4 key steps:
1. Identify your reasons for looking into purchasing a CRM system. Write a list of issues you are currently experiencing in your sales process. This will help you determine what features within the CRM solution you need.
2. You have many CRM solutions to choose from, and the process can seem overwhelming and potentially expensive. Set a budget, and use sites such as destinationcrm.com and insidecrm.com to educate yourself on what type of CRM solutions fits your business needs.
3. Once you have narrowed down your search, set up meetings and live demos with each vendor. Do not become caught up in their sales pitches; no magic button inside their system will suddenly increase your sales revenue.
4. Ask for a free trial of the vendor's application, which will give your sales managers and reps the opportunity to use the CRM solution. It allows them to buy into the new system, and the feedback you receive from them will help you determine whether the vendor's solution fits your needs.
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By Jim Hickey,