Klein Consulting
READ THE FIRST SENTENCE IN YOUR MOST DRAMATIC MOVIE THEATRE TRAILER VOICE FOR MAXIMUM EFFECT

In a world full of CRMs, how can I trust which one is right for my company?”.  Listen, we get it.  Your choices are pretty limitless when it comes to implementing a CRM platform for your organization, but the scary truth is once you choose one, the commitment you make is long-term.  It’s kind of like when you choose a new phone plan with a new provider – the experience to switch from one provider to the next is long and never painless.  Phone or cable providers will lock you in to 1-2 year contracts (and the guys that say you don’t have to worry about those contracts basically make you spend buku bucks to get out – I’m looking at you, Vonage).

When your company and dollars are hanging in the balance, you realize that there is so much more at stake than a shoddy phone connection.  So in those moments, where the weight feels entirely on your shoulders…what do you do?  Not to get all salesy here, I’m for sure taking the opportunity to insert a shameless plug, but honestly you come to us.  Klein Consulting partners with many CRM and ERP platforms out there, so we don’t have a bias to go with a single software  because not all CRMs are built equal.  Watch out for single provider consultants – they may be experts in what they know about the platform, but it’s what they don’t know about other software that will cost you time and money (but let’s save that for another blog post).

Are you sitting there, reading this and still not totally convinced, and not looking to get hands-on help with one of the best CRM solution partners out there? *ahem* – well, my skeptical friend, no offense taken.  We’ve put together a cheat-sheet of 3 key questions to ask yourself when weighing your options so that you can narrow down your overwhelming list of CRM choices.

These are insider secrets, people….

What are you willing to invest / what can you afford for a CRM?

Maybe the most obvious question to ask yourself is what kind of a budget do you have to spend on a CRM?  Evaluate your company by answering these questions:

  • Am I a small, mid-size, or large company?
  • Am I already using a CRM, if I am, do I have a lot of data to migrate over (i.e. deals, contacts, leads) ?
  • Do I need 3rd party integrations to other software my organization uses?

I’m going to break it out as simply as I can:

The larger your company, the more licenses you will need – i.e. the more you’ll need to spend.  Pay attention to subscription model pricing, and evaluate what you can afford.  As you research your options, check to see if there are any discounts you can leverage (i.e. volume discounts, discounted rates for committing yearly, Military or Government discounts, etc.)

Sometimes people aren’t sure what a CRM is, which is totally fine – tech people can be so obnoxious with their acronyms, but don’t be intimidated. A CRM (Customer Relations Management) platform is basically a place where you can keep tabs on prospective business, existing business, and lost business.  A solid CRM exists for this key feature:  to help you visualize your pipeline.  You need to be able to understand what you’ll be able to close on, your conversion rates when you do close, and record keeping for when you don’t.  Be on the look-out for CRMs that at the very least have marketing features you can leverage.

If you are already using a CRM or another means to hold contact data, consider the amount of data that you have.  Are we talking 20 records or are we talking 20,000?  There are CRMs out there that do a great job of migrating your information over, and CRMs that really just can’t handle it depending on the volume size.

Consider the other applications that you use to keep the lights on in your business.  Do you have an accounting software that you absolutely need integrated into the CRM so that your reps can close on deals, send invoices directly, and keep the finance department in the loop so they can keep track of Accounts Receivables?  These most likely will need to be integrated – sometimes, if you’re lucky, an integration will have already been built out by the vendor and it meets every single need you could ever imagine…. but in our experience, few have ever hit the lottery.  The truth is sometimes there will be an integration, but it doesn’t pass the data that you need in the way you need it.  You may need to hire developers or a consulting company that needs to build out APIs or Webhooks to get these custom integrations done.  This can be pricey so really consider what you need and what you can make do without.

Do you need just a CRM, or do you need a one-stop-shop?

A CRM is sometimes all an organization needs, but if we’re being honest – which isn’t that the point of this entire article? – that’s rare.  More often than not, especially if you’re a start up, you’re not just looking for a CRM to manage your sales and marketing, you’re also looking for an inventory solution, an e-commerce solution, a finance solution, a logistics solution… yet another list to keep track of, I know.

Think about the consequences of keeping these systems separate from your CRM.  Can you make do for now or will you have to face the consequences of messy double entry, data integrity issues, communication silos, and lack of visibility as you scale up?  Think about the consequences of keeping these systems separate from your CRM.  Can you make do for now or will you have to face the consequences of messy double entry, data integrity issues, communication silos, and lack of visibility as you scale?

Zoho One does this really well if you’re just starting out.  Set up all of these departmental solutions directly from your platform.  For the most part, not always, Zoho products do a good job of talking to each other.  By centralizing your core processes on a single platform, you reap the benefits of a solid data structure, reduction in communication silos, little to no double entry of data, and accuracy.

Do you have the time or patience to see this self-implementation through?

By the time you get here, choosing the CRM will have been the easiest part.  I really hate to be the bearer of hard news, but a CRM implementation can be tough, and unless you thoroughly enjoy learning about new software and have a passion and the time to do this on your own, you might need to bring on an expert to see your dream through. I cannot stress this enough, so here comes the bold:   Before you commit to a consultant, make sure that they actually know what they’re doing.  We have adopted many clients that start with an overseas consultant that seems affordable and extremely knowledgable, but end up getting burned so badly because:

  • They had actually little to know knowledge on the platform and convinced you to spend your dollars so that they could attempt to research it on their own
  • They didn’t keep your data secure, like you thought
  • They were impossible to get ahold of during the day (time zones are definitely a hurdle you need to take into consideration)
  • They are task oriented.  They built out your requirements, just because you asked them to without understanding the consequences and implications that come along with the change
  • They sucked out a huge portion of your funds and time for the project.  By the time you realize that you need to find someone else, it gets expensive.  Now you’re paying more money for the software expert to: evaluate the current state of your platform, reverse the bad practices implemented previously, and build from there

Alright, so let’s say you now understand your homework assignment.  As a freebie, I want to throw in “safe-bets” – these are platforms that we have come to recommend as our top picks and the most reliable if you still are having trouble trying to figure out where to start:

Zoho One 

Pros:

  • At $35/user/month for the Zoho One license, unlock over 40 applications that you can implement into your business.  This price-point is hard to beat, and really a great deal if you have the luxury of time to shop around for the best CRM for your company. Get comfy with a free trial before you commit here.
  • Zoho Creator – if you need an app that doesn’t exist in the 40 they already offer, build you own with little to no code!  This really sets Zoho apart from the other guys.
  • Just a little bit of coding knowledge can take you oh so far.  Zoho has their own coding language – Zoho Deluge.  Want to get into the basics of Deluge, we got you.  Check out episode 1 of our Zoho Deluge 101 YouTube series here!

Cons:

  • Unless you partner up with an Advanced Partner like Klein Consulting *wink, wink* (shameful plug number 2 if you’re keeping track) customer support is something that is to be desired.
  • Some applications are better than others – the core ones like CRM, Inventory, Books, Subscriptions, Desk, and Campaigns are way more powerful than the other fringe apps.

Microsoft D365

Pros:

  • Backed by Microsoft, the mecca of industry standard, their customer support and community forums beat the other guys, bar none.
  • If you have big data and need to visualize it, PowerBI is one of the best tools to get it done.  Integrate it with Microsoft D365 for a complete picture of your forecasts and pipeline.  Do you want to see a sample dashboard that Klein has built out? oh my gosh, so glad you asked! Check out an embedded interactive sample dashboard here.
  • More integrations are already pre-built and continue to be supported by vendors thanks to Microsoft’s brand and standard, and if they don’t yet exist, the API capabilities are pretty impressive.

Cons:

  • Depending on your organization size, the cost comes in significantly higher than Zoho at $115-$210/user/month
  • Self-implementation of this platform is harder to achieve

HubSpot

Pros:

  • These guys are uber cool and this platform will give you street cred for sure.  When it comes to marketing efforts and solutions, few platforms come close.
  • They have a ton of help articles if you ever get stuck along with nifty general articles to help you navigate your business outside of their product – it really feels like they are looking out for you in this regard!

Cons:

  • Tricky incremental pricing.  While the initial cost seems attractive, there are features you will no doubt need to pay to unlock – this means that there’s really no way to understand what this will cost your organization until you’re knee deep.
  • Limited features.  HubSpot does marketing well, but they don’t have solutions for the other areas of your business as of yet!

Hopefully this blog post has been helpful to you!  We’re here to help.  We have a PDF handout that compares over 8 CRM platforms if you still need help navigating what is best for your business!  If you’re interested in that handout, reach out to monica@klein.consulting .

Alright, last shameful plug – I promise.  Klein understands that choosing a CRM is like jumping into a long-term relationship – you have to commit, you have to invest time, energy and effort, and you have to feel fulfilled.  No 2 businesses are the same, but we’ve gotten pretty good at building unique solutions that help our clients thrive.

Let’s connect today!

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