CRM Reading Lounge: CRM & General Articles

My Tips For Choosing A CRM System

My Name Sam Francis
Address 18 Pelham Court Crawley West Sussex
Job Title Commercial Director
I work for TEK Express (UK) LLP, The Laptop Specialist
Date 20 September 2012

Like most small businesses, when I started my company, TEK Express (UK) LLP, finance was an issue so every penny spent needed considerable thought. I certainly wasn’t going to spend lots of money on a CRM system when an excel spreadsheet would do the trick. Problem is, as you become successful, your time becomes shorter so having easy systems to take some of the burden away is important. A good CRM software solution is invaluable especially if, like me, you need the system to send reminders of jobs to do. What I have also found by making the right decision is that my system has helped reduced my spend by automating so many processes meaning less manpower is required. My company is a team of 8 but if I didn’t have my CRM, I would probably be looking at 11 employees.

What most people do when they buy any system is they think about their current needs and not what they might need five years down the line. They also buy a product based on cost (as did I) rather than what will pay dividends in time to come. Another thought that doesn’t cross most people’s minds is whether the company with the CRM product is going to invest to improve the system over time or whether the system will be bought out by a bigger company that will change the product entirely and not necessarily to your needs – this happened to me.

Now I know the latter example is not something that most people will think about but about 8 years ago, I bought a great CRM product that did mostly what I needed. Because it was a great product, it got noticed by one of the big software houses and they bought it outright. Everything was okay for about a year but then slowly but surely, new versions came to market that were quite alluring so I upgraded. Once I had upgraded however, I was really tied in. I had to update my laptop as the software was now hungry for more memory, then licensing got stricter, exports of my information cost money (credits) and suddenly I didn’t like this system very much. The problem is then starting all over again to find a new system that might go down the same garden path. The good news is that now, there are loads of products out there for every size business, the bad news is that too much choice can lead to confusion and a delay in making a decision.

So here are my tips on selecting a CRM system today:

  • Using an online CRM system is crucial as the likelihood of loosing all that important data is minimal.
  • Paying a flat rate monthly fee is also more viable without necessary being tied into a long term contract.
  • The system’s import and export facilities should be simple and should give you all the information you need.
  • The system should be able to store all your standard templates for emailing and sending letters easily
  • Setting alarms and to-do lists is a must. Busy people need the support of such a function.
  • Colleagues can share tasks as the business grows is imperative when delegation is required.
  • Automated processes such as billing can be implemented to ensure your customer’s receive their invoices on time and they are automatically chased if payment is not received in time.
  • Finally, the system should produce accurate and informative reporting so that you can measure business activity, sales forecasts, trends as well as the negative with any problems that you can turn into a positive outcome.

For your further info, my business was established in 2000. We now employ 8 people with a turnover of £750k and growing. Our core business is TEK Express, however I am trying to grow our other business.