Red, White and Blue, All Out but You: A Scorecard for CRM Vendor Selection

When it comes to selecting the vendor for your CRM project, your drive would be to quickly get the best possible solution at the lowest price, wouldn’t it? At the same time, your prospective vendors’ drive would be to outcompete other bidders by all available means, including this notorious overpromising you can sense miles away from their proposals. So what is the solution to such conflicting interests? Well, to get yourself a vendor scorecard for comparing proposals against each other.

Although there can be no single version of truth, the following guide pinpoints the must-have criteria of CRM vendor selection. Using this as the scorecard, you won’t overlook anything that could undermine the value of a deployed CRM for your business.

Step 1. Initial vendor screening

CRM Vendor Selection

Once you get a heap of proposals on your table, screen them carefully against the following criteria for CRM consultant selection to score out the weakest.

No plain mirroring of your RFP: As someone out of the tech loop, you can easily overlook or underestimate business-critical functionality to be requested for your future CRM solution. Apart from that, companies frequently suffer from the same sort of technological myopia and can’t see the whole picture beyond disparate CRM functions. This happens because they usually crowdsource requirements from focus groups of front-line workers and other potential CRM users who are not really familiar with the true scope and limits of a CRM system. That is why your CRM consultants-to-be should become the eyes and ears of your sales force when it comes to shaping a CRM solution.

Awareness of your business goals: CRM is more than an enterprise technology, and it is your vendor’s task to make it a true business enabler for you.

The questions to ask yourself:

  • Where on the CRM maturity scale do they put you now and in the future?
  • Who shows a greater, more precise understanding of your business goals?
  • Who has the vision of how a CRM system can help you achieve them?

Data migration: This proposal clause is an absolute must in CRM vendor selection, even if you don’t expressly stipulate it in your RFP. With no plan for migrating and governing data from your old CRM, there can be no smooth transition of your sales processes to a new system. But wasn’t it on the agenda?

The questions to ask yourself:

  • Who has a clearly laid-out plan for CRM data migration?
  • Who goes further to introduce master data management?

Integration with other systems: To become the front and center of your marketing and sales operations, your new CRM will have to interact with every other system that touches upon leads, prospects and customers in your IT infrastructure. For example, your website, ERP, billing system, call center, live chat, etc.

The questions to ask yourself:

  • Who includes integration as a project stage?
  • Who makes the right assumption about the scope of systems to integrate?

Maintenance: No CRM project can end abruptly with the system deployment. Maintenance is what required on an ongoing basis to ensure, on the one hand, bug-free performance and, on the other hand, continuous improvement (as your requirements are likely to differ with time).

The questions to ask yourself:

  • Who can provide ongoing maintenance?
  • Who has a help desk for urgent problem-solving?

Care for convenience: Ease of use is an elusive term that you won’t be able to claim from your vendor once the project is completed. Unless you have put this requirement in your contract! Before that, however, your vendor-to-be has to think in advance and outline their own vision and approach for maximizing CRM convenience in order to encourage wider user adoption and improve the quality of entered data.

The questions to ask yourself:

  • Who aims at superb user experience?
  • Who is ready to deliver more than a set of standard CRM forms?

Your involvement: In the process of CRM consultant selection, you should clearly see how much each of them propose to involve you and your company in the project. If your expected participation is either too little or too significant, it should alert you to possible incompetence of a CRM vendor.

The questions to ask yourself:

  • Who is aware of the importance of your involvement as a client?
  • Who identifies the right scope of your participation?
  • Who can ensure ongoing and prompt communication at all project stages?

 Step 2. Picking from the shortlist

Final CRM Vendor Selection

Now that you’ve screened out each and every vendor with dubious proposals, it’s time to decide on the winner. Here are the criteria to make your final stab at CRM vendor selection.

 

Industry expertise: They may know the CRM platform, but do they know what it can do for your business in particular? A vendor with in-depth understanding of your niche can save you both time and efforts, bringing a greater impact on the project in general.

The questions to ask yourself:

  • Can you spot your professional lingo across the proposal?
  • Who’s the most specific?

Correct assumptions: The scope and budget of the project, as submitted in a proposal, always reflect a vendor’s assumptions. For example, they can deal with the features to include in your system, required customizations, supported languages, browser compatibility, user training, etc.

The questions to ask yourself:

  • Whose assumptions cover all the critical elements of the project?
  • Whose assumptions are both complete and correct?

Free PoC: You don’t have to venture into the unknown. With a free proof of concept available as part of your vendor’s services, you could tap their expertise, communication skills, ability to meet deadlines, and more, without wasting your own resources.

The question to ask yourself:

  • Who provides a free PoC?

Who’s left now?

Going through CRM vendor selection is far from being an easy task, not in the least because you can end up with… no one. If it’s the case, know that it’s not about you being extremely picky. It’s about not compromising on the quality of another vital system in your ecosystem.

If you have no vendors left at all, consider broadening your choice – let other vendors apply, for example, from other states or near-shore/off-shore countries. But what if the only proposals that survived your selection process are completely unaffordable for you? Then, discuss it with the vendors themselves and see what they can offer to reduce the price (like, removing or postponing secondary features, providing discounts, etc.).

This is how, by getting such a scorecard, you can literally make the process of CRM vendor selection less of a burden, bringing more precision and better results. Think of it as a cheat sheet that contains the critical criteria no CRM project could do without and easily score out those who don’t fit.

By Zhinko Denis, Head of Microsoft Dynamics CRM and SharePoint Department at ScienceSoft with 12+ years in software consulting. Denis has managed projects on CRM, Portals, System Integration and Connectivity for businesses in Healthcare, Retail, Telecom and Banking, including CRM solutions for 7+ mln bank clients and 5+ mln media subscribers. In his spare time, Denis is a keen motorcyclist, tennis player and volunteer.

1 thought on “Red, White and Blue, All Out but You: A Scorecard for CRM Vendor Selection”

  1. This blog contain perfect information regarding CRM Software i would say… those technical flow chart must be very useful for the software technology CRM; each and very step will bring you great impact towards CRM Software… and here, will be looking for more update..
    CRM Vendor

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