When selecting a customer relationship management (CRM) software vendor, one of the first steps is to figure out what you are actually looking for in a Customer Relationship Manager system. CRM systems can be very complex, and paring down the Massive CRM Features and Functionality List to a useful CRM questionnaire can be a daunting task.
It is always a good idea to prioritize your requirements into “needs” and “wants”, to help determine how much influence a given requirement has on your final selection. Asking yourself a few basic questions about your needs and what a vendor can supply will greatly speed up your software selection process. Keep in mind that just because a certain CRM is well known or popular, it may not be the best fit for your organization.
By using this CRM Software Requirements Gathering Questionnaire, your CRM selection process will run smoothly.
What is my company size, and how many users will I have?
Many people hunt for the best system, and neglect to take into account the number of actual users and size of their company. While a massive enterprise-focused CRM will have tons of functionality, it is likely overkill for a small or mid-sized company that only will have a few users and limited customer base.
How much money can I spend on a CRM?
Going along with the system size & complexity, larger vendors tend to charge more for their software and services. Having a solid budget defined prior to contacting vendors will help keep your selection process focused.
Check out this Free CRM RFP Template and Step-by-Step Guide to help you communicate with the vendors you have down-selected.
Who are my users and customers?
Keep your users and customer base in mind when searching for a Customer Relationship Manager. The abilities of your prospective users and the type of information you want to track about customers can weigh on which CRM you choose to purchase.
Does the vendor have experience in my industry?
Once you identify who your users and customers will be, you should consider if the vendor/system is tailored to your industry. The needs of a healthcare provider are different than those of a product sales organization, and the selected system should match your needs.
Does the solution have mobile device support?
Modern users, especially sales-oriented ones, tend to use mobile phones or tablets in preference to computers. Knowing if a CRM offers native apps for iOS, Android, etc., or hybrid/mobile-browser access is an important data point.
Is the CRM Web-based, or does it require a desktop app?
Some systems require a desktop application to be installed, while others provide browser-based access.
Will my users require training to use the system?
The complexity of a system can negatively affect user adoption. Additionally, training takes time, money, and commitment. Easy-to-use systems can affect the total cost of ownership (TCO), as well as speed wide-spread use.
Do I want to have hosted software, or a fully managed service (SaaS)?
There are two main solution types these days: Self installed/hosted, and Software as a Service (SaaS). Each has specific benefits and drawbacks, and deciding which type of solution would best fit your business needs will help drive vendor selection.
What IT services does the vendor offer?
If you choose to go with a hosted solution, either installed or SaaS, it is necessary to know what IT/infrastructure services the vendor provides. Guided installation, system management, data backups, security, and availability are all topics to discuss with your team and the vendor.
Should I look for open-source or proprietary solutions?
If you go for an installed system rather than SaaS, consider whether you prefer using Open Source or proprietary (licensed) software. While thinking about the options, keep cost, support, and IT needs in mind.
Can the solution easily scale to handle my needs?
When choosing a CRM, consider future volume and use and whether the software can readily scale to meet increased (or decreased) demand.
Does the CRM integrate with my corporate email system?
Most CRMs can hook up to external email systems such as Microsoft Exchange or IBM Lotus notes. Verify if your system is supported by the CRM to simplify system integration.
Does the CRM hook into social networking platforms?
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social platforms form an important part of customer relations and campaigns. CRMs support the platforms to varying degrees, and choosing a system which works with your chosen social media sites is vital for modern communications.
What other systems do I want to connect the CRM to?
When looking for a new software system, think about the existing systems you currently use. Do you want to share information between them and the CRM? Can the CRM and the other systems communicate natively, are there plugins/extensions available, or will you need to write custom connectors for them?
Can I create custom reports?
Being able to report on information relevant to your needs is an important part of data management. Be sure to ask vendors about the reporting capabilities of their systems.
Does the system have useful analytics?
Visualizing system information aids in reporting, status checks, and overall system utility. A CRM’s analytical capabilities, graphs, and dashboards should help users easily gain insight into the CRM data.
Does the CRM let me create custom templates?
Templates for email, social media posts, data entry, and forms simplify using the system and keeping company standards. Look into how easy it is to customize templates, and how far you can go with them.
Can we write custom modules or hooks to use the CRM data in other systems?
Some CRMs offer APIs (application programming interfaces) so you can write custom software to interact with the CRM itself. Other systems permit you to create custom scripts which affect the CRM directly.
Does the vendor/software have a good reputation?
No matter how impressive a webpage or demo a vendor has, it is important to look for reviews and ratings of the company and software to see how other users view the system.
To help evaluate CRM solutions, here’s a Free CRM Comparison Tool and Best Practices guide. Then you can get started with a free CRM software requirements template which includes the major features and requirements for CRM software solutions.