CRMs are the backbone of many organisations, regardless of industry or sector. When choosing a CRM, it's critical you understand not only the vendor and software but the partner who will help you reach your strategic goals. We've put this guide together on what you need to consider when choosing your CRM partner.
When choosing a partner, one of the first considerations would be their expertise. Factors to examine are not simply a list of certificates from the vendor, but if they have exposure to your industry. Do they understand how your business operates, what your goals are and what challenges you face? The reason this is important is that partners shouldn't operate in a 'do as your told' relationship with your business, but be able to push back and suggest ways of helping you to meet your objectives. A good CRM partner will understand your business environment and will be equipped to work with you on strategies to help you achieve your aims.
- Size of the partner
When picking your CRM partner, consider how big your own business is and the level of CRM support to sustain your operations. If they are too small, they may not be able to deal with support requests or make system changes fast enough, especially if they have many other organisations they partner with. On the other side, a large partner may be too expensive or operate as a generalist, and, therefore unable to provide you the specialist support you need
- Cultural fit
Having a CRM partner that shares the same values and can work well together is critical to the success of a relationship and project. A CRM project is usually laborious and requires a lot of people to work closely together to reach a positive outcome. The success of this often hinges on the relationship between the partnership. Tangible reasons for this is that a poor cultural fit leads to miscommunication leading to errors, a lack of trust can bring problems such as role changes and missed targets, and a bad atmosphere often results in missed targets.
When choosing a partner, spend time getting to know them, not just their director, but the people you will be working with on a daily basis. This will help you build a foundation of how you may work together. You could also ask for case studies, and references and view their communication materials to get a sense of how they approach projects and if that matches your methods.
- Compliance and Regulatory consideration
Your data is sensitive and needs to be protected. When choosing a CRM partner, do they understand how to handle protected information? Is their team understanding of GDPR, or recognise industry-specific regulations such as those in healthcare or finance? It would be good to have conversations with prospective partners who demonstrate they understand and can advise when it comes to regulatory factors. You could play out scenarios where you ask them how they would deal with potential risks and how they can prevent issues such as data breaches.
It's important to have an open perspective when looking at budgets for CRM partners. Some partners may have a larger upfront financial outlay for a project than others, but their ongoing contractual support agreements may be less, potentially saving you resource in the long term. Additionally, going with the cheapest may bring shortcuts or they will lack the guidance you need to reach objectives. We would advise engaging with several partners to get a comparison of all types of costs and scrutinise the obligations that they will meet for those prices. Trust is important at this stage, as a partner may have hidden costs in the future that they were not transparent about in the initial engagement.
- Define project and support
If you have settled on a CRM vendor, you need to then define how much help you will need. Can you perform the basic installation yourself? Do you need licencing guidance or management? Are there third-party integrations you need support with? Do your users need training and support for a new system? Do you have a timeline for objectives to be met?
Examine your current state of operations and where you want them to help define what you need from a CRM partner.
Hopefully, the above considerations can support you in making an informed, considered decision when it comes to choosing a CRM partner. If you are interested in some specific advice, please feel free to get in touch