Hey, Mr. Chief Sales, Marketing or Service Officer, Don’t Let your IS Team Pick Your CRM Platform!

When was the last time you went shopping for a new bikini for your wife or a set of golf clubs for your husband?  Most likely never…and why?  Because at the end of the day, you are not going to be seen on a public beach in it or teeing off with your buddies at the next golf outing.  These are purchase decisions that should be made by the user since they will be the person using the item.

Buying a CRM system is not much different.  Most likely the user of the CRM tool is someone in one of the following categories:   sales representative, sales manager, CSO, marketing representative, marketing manager, CMO, service agent, service manager, VP of Customer Service or an individual with operations in their title or area of responsibility.

Your IT team would love to dictate the CRM tool of choice because they always know what’s best for you right?  WRONG…they are always going to pick a system that creates the least amount of IT pain for themselves.  This will happen even if it means compromising user experience, time to deployment, support for Bring Your Own Device “BYOD,” or interactions within the social media space.

If I am a CSO, CMO or VP of Service, I would follow these top five guiding principles as I make a CRM platform selection:

  • Involve your front line staff in the selection process.  Yes, I realize they are busy with their day jobs, but at the end of the day they will be the individuals expected to use the tool and can provide the most perspective on use case/productivity requirements. See blog post on CRM end-user givebacks
  • Ensure that the tool supports the growing trend of BYOD.  A truly effective CRM platform should be a tool available whenever and wherever your front line people interact with customers to drive use, value and the holy grail of CRM success: adoption!
  • Activity, message management & social collaboration are a way of life for sellers, so ensure that the tool leverages the required messaging, calendaring & social platforms that your teams already use pervasively to get work done.  What systems do your teams log into every morning to direct their day, communicate and collaboration with customers and prospects?  See blog post on top 14 must have CRM system features!
  • Integration to back office systems is a must.  This one gets blown out of proportion by customers and vendors.  Your IT team would lead you to believe you must stick within the Geranimals IT shop principles.  All CRM systems that reside in the Gartner MQ for 2011 should provide open architecture and — through industry standard web service calls — can be connected to your back office vendor of choice.  Yes, that means you are not restricted to one vendor for both ERP and CRM, so do not let that dictate your final CRM vendor selection choice.  Often, this can lead to weighing down a well-developed, mature business solution with another that just isn’t up to par as far as quality, performance, or capability.
  • Yes involve IT as an advisor during the selection process to insure the tool you move forward with can be supported by your cloud or on premise technology infrastructure.

Good selling and keep your eye on the prize of high user adoption to prevent CRM strategy failure!

– Tracy

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