Managing CRM Presentations

So you have finally arrived at your short-list of suitable small business CRM solutions, whether for your sales lead tracking /sales force automation, marketing, customer service or a combination.

You are ready to call in the respective CRM vendors to give you a CRM presentation. Make sure you are prepared. You have all the questions prepared in your CRM RFI ( Request For Information) at hand. If you feel unprepared and about to waste everyone’s time, rather take a step back.

And, as it is a CRM buyers market there are many competitive CRM solutions to choose from, so one can maybe be a bit more demanding than usual!

Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of the CRM presentation:

Use your own data. Hopefully you won’t even have to ask the vendor or reseller to import it for you – they should realise that they stand a better chance of getting your order if they use your own records – you, and your staff, will be able to relate far better to the prospective CRM program if you see your own data in action. By getting the vendor to do the data import or conversion, you will also have got a tedious one-off task out of the way with this exercise.

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Try to turn the demo or presentation into a training session of sorts. For instance, ask to see them do the data import, so you can learn how it is done in the process. Or add a sample customer record

Use as much of your own data as possible, as this will give you an indication as to the performance of the software with a realistically sized database. Check to see what computers they are doing the presentation with, however. It could be some high-powered PC to hide the degradation, or slowing up, as soon as the volume of records starts running into the hundreds or thousands.

Also look to see how comprehensively your CRM data has been brought across from your source, which could be your accounting system, Excel spreadsheet, contact manager or other database. There are instances where information may have to be left behind, like notes, calendar appointments. Find out now, rather than after the fact, if this is going to be the case. This could be an opportunity to get off to a fresh start with clean, current data for your new CRM system though. Read about data capture for your CRM software.

This will also serve as a test of the CRM vendor to see how eager they are to please. If their pre-sales approach leaves a bit to be desired, you can be sure that attitude won’t improve once you’ve signed on the dotted line.

Sometimes CRM presentations aren’t much more than a salesperson going systematically through the products list of features. This might seem impressive or it might put you to sleep. Ask them to simulate your working environment as far as possible. That corny cliche of ‘user-friendliness’ starts to become less corny when you see the learning curve a poorly designed CRM software application poses for you and your staff.

Simulate some of your own real-world working situations, for example:
fielding calls from prospects;
creating their new record on-the-fly.
Calls from existing clients, getting to their notes
making appointments real-time – with a client on the line
creating records from inbound email inquiries
generating reports
customizing reports
synchronizing with remote users
importing data etc.

Don’t overdo it and push your luck too much. They might well decide that you are going to be more trouble than you are worth – the proverbial client from hell. This should be looked at as potentially a long term relationship, much like you with your accountants, but there is no harm in letting them know that you expect value and results.

But be nice to each other! This could, or should be the start of a really rewarding relationship.