Your CRM 101 Primer To Selecting & Implementing Small Business CRM Solutions.

So what software is going to work for YOU? This CRM 101 guide will help you hone in on a suitable solution for you.

Before you go and turf your Tickler Boxes, Rolodexes, leather bound FiloFax’s and spreadsheets, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself, before you can begin to answer that question. Assuming you have asked and answered question #1 – “Why am I even considering a CRM solution”, the next question many ask, if they using MS Outlook, is whether the proposed system fully integrates to it. Get the vendor to define, and satisfactorily demonstrate, how ‘full’ is fully compatable.

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CRM’s and Contact Managers are very effectively used in virtually every conceivable type and size of industry, from Special Interest Groups (SIG’s), NGO’s and Non Profit organizations to entrepreneurs, clubs, churches, publications, debt collectors and so on.

Encourage your staff to use the product in their private capacity too. They become a way of life for the users eventually. Your staff will get to learn the software faster as well as better understand its power.

Who are the users at your company going to be, and what are they going to use it for? Many prospective clients are looking for the system primarily for their sales people. But on delving closer into their requirements they realize that the program can potentially benefit virtually everyone throughout their organization, from accounts to service, such is the pervasive nature of the beast.

Consider your PA’s, accounts, HR and customer service. Sit down with your other potential users. Get them to detail how, if at all, they could benefit from a CRM or Contact Manager. You’ll be amazed at what’ll come out the woodwork.

Don’t only consider CRM to manage your customer database, as the CRM misnomer acronym would have you believe. Think laterally – you can look after your suppliers, staff, business partners, friends and any lists or communities of people you need to manage.

Your CRM Database is, of course, the heart of your system. Don’t let poor quality data poison your database. Ensure you create a CRM Data Capture Procedure Checklist before you begin populating your database.

One aspect you should spend a lot of time on is deciding how you want to profile the companies and contacts in your database. See then whether this can be properly catered for by the CRM software you are considering.

Whatever CRM or Contact Management solution you select, the buy-in of your users is essential. My advice on how best to get your proposed new CRM accepted by your colleagues, would be to first of all ensure they are included in the decision process. This is important! They are the ones that will have to live with your choice and make it work after all. What you don’t want is your staff resisting a system simply because they feel it was thrust on them by management and is yet something more to learn, but wasn’t included in their original job spec. Or worse, it is unsuited to the task.

No matter what your growth plans or vision for the future, a CRM strategy is crucial to your long-term prosperity.To start formulating a good strategic approach to your CRM purchase, read our range of free ebooks to get you going on the right track. Go here to download them for free..

Here are the various types of CRM’s available:

Our Top 10 CRM Solutions – Our recommended solutions.

You need to decide which of these genre closest matches the CRM requirements of your small business before you begin deciding which CRM product/s to evaluate.

Now you are getting closer to start calling in potential vendors or their preferred resellers for a CRM presentation or consultation.

Hopefully these guidelines will help you with that decision. There is no doubt whatsoever though, provided you go about selecting your CRM or contact management software prudently, it will prove to be the best investment you have ever made for your business!

This CRM 101 section will be constantly updated and will include a more comprehensive CRM Selection & Implementation Checklist.

To read a brief history of CRM, click here..