5 Steps to choose the right CRM solutions

Marketing and CRM technology has boomed in recent years. As Scott Brinker’s supergraphic illustrates, in 2017 alone there were 131 separate CRM solutions available to marketers.  And it’s going to continue to grow with advances in platforms, chatbots and AI amongst others. You can’t afford to ignore the opportunities and threats that technology brings to your business 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 5 tips that we believe will help you have greater success in implementing your CRM solution. 

1. Strategy first

Don’t be seduced by a CRM solution without a clear understanding of how it supports your business, marketing and customer strategies.  The technology tail mustn’t wag the marketing dog. So, before embarking on any new technology solution make sure you’ve got your business model clear and understand your strategy. Then you can evaluate different technology solutions and prioritise those that will best fit your business growth and strategic goals.  

2. Deliver quick wins

Keep things simple, define a longer term roadmap but start with key activities and tools that gives you quick wins and help you validate the business case. This could be as simple as an email engine like Mailchimp that allows you to communicate with customers and forces you to think about your contact strategy, what you will communicate, when and how.   This is vital for long term success and more investments.

Start small and scale or iterate as you discover what works best.

3. Start with the end in mind

Getting your requirements clear, understood and agreed by both Marketing and IT is obvious, right?  But with technology solutions this is where most projects go wrong.  

Let’s face it, when someone is asked what their requirements are, they will usually list everything they can think of.  No-one wants to forget anything, or get a CRM system that after a lot of time, effort and money, doesn’t do what they expected. 

So, our recommendation is to start with how you want to use the solution. Build requirements as “user stories” to help keep focus on the user. Your user stories should always include:

  • the person using the service (the actor)
  • what the user needs the service for (the narrative)
  • why the user needs it (the goal)

4. Make the most of what you've got

Everyone loves a shiny new toy or gadget.  But, with a CRM solution, before you invest you need to consider whether you can get more from your existing systems and your prioritised ‘user stories’ will help you understand exactly what you’re trying to achieve and why. A service blueprint might also help to identify your absolute key processes and data sources.

Then, it’s the time to take a step back and assess what you have and if the existing solutions in your organisation can be orchestrated to deliver what you need.

5. Think about the level of change

Consider the resource implications, the training and skills you need to make this work and how much external support you’ll need or can afford to ensure the delivery stays on track to plans, meets the requirements and achieves ROI.

Crucially, before embarking on the change, think through the implications once the system is in place so that your costs benefit analysis and business case rationale are all thought through. 

Choosing the right CRM solution can be daunting  but by following the above advice we know you will be able to identify the right opportunities, reduce risks and make an informed decision to achieve meaningful benefits.

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