CRM tools can help organizations of any size. Customers are the most important resource for most any business with which we either grow or shrink. There are quite a few options when it comes to a CRM which I will outline below. Both Salesforce.com and Microsoft Dynamics CRM are the two main competitors but due to their complexity may not be the best choice for you company.

For starters lets look at the factors that will be most important to most companies when deciding on a CRM.

  1. Annual Price
  2. Required Internal Resources
  3. Ease of Use and Setup
  4. Functionality and Connectivity

Annual Price

1st year price will be dependent on Setup Cost + Annual Per User Costs + Maintenance Costs + Training Costs + Customization Costs. For this reason the Annual Per User Cost should not be the main consideration when determining the best option for your company.

Required Internal Resources

Many companies have an internal IT/IS department that can help when problems arise with a CRM. Others require the use of a “partner” who is usually associated with the CRM vendor. This can be a huge added cost as hourly rates for these consultants are often greater than $100 per hour.

Ease of Us and Setup

Initial setup will require extra resource use and must focus on one very important factor, User Adoption. The value of the CRM to your company is highly correlated with the portion of intended users that actually make use of the system. There are network effects of CRM usage that are good for a company that make user adoption by a high portion of your sales team one of the most important factors. Ease of use for those users is one of the most common reasons why a user will either adopt to use or reject a CRM. A CRM product must be extremely easy to use and show immediate benefits to the sales team themselves or those team members will reject the CRM and the value will be greatly decreased.

Functionality and Connectivity

After the initial setup your company will likely decide that they wish their CRM had more functions. No matter how many functions your CRM has this will likely happen as people realize the usefulness of the product they have. For this reason connectivity to other programs may be very important to you. Some functions that you may want to look into before making a CRM decision are.

  1. Customer Portal
  2. Sales Partner Portal
  3. Social Media Connectivity
  4. Help Desk/Ticketing
  5. Management Dashboards

These are just some of the considerations you will want to make when picking a CRM. Remember that implementation is just as important as your choice of CRM, so plan and plan some more.