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5 Questions to Ask CRM Companies before You Buy

Buying a customer relationship management (CRM) package is one of the most monumental decisions your firm will ever make. Choosing the right one can mean the difference between the success and failure of your CRM initiative. With hundreds of CRM companies out there, how do you find the vendor and the solution that are right for your business? Asking the right questions during the RFP process can help you quickly identify the most credible CRM companies with the most viable offerings, and help you make a smarter, more informed purchase.

Ask About the CRM Company’s Background
Thoroughly analyze each CRM company’s history, including financial status, mission statement, and reputation to determine which one is the right partner for you. While this information will be easy to obtain on your own for publicly-held CRM companies, you’ll need to do some digging to learn more about the ones that are privately owned. However, most CRM companies, particularly those with a solid background and a promising future, will gladly provide you with plenty of relevant data.

Ask About What Capabilities the CRM Company Provides
Request a list of features for each product, and conduct a close side-by-side comparison of the various solutions you are considering. Ask the CRM company for a roadmap of future upgrades and enhancements, so you can understand how the CRM company plans to evolve their solutions in the coming years. You should only seriously consider buying from those CRM companies that can deliver all the functionality you need.

Ask to Speak to Some of the CRM Company’s Customers
Most CRM companies will be willing to let you speak to existing customers within your industry, or with similar needs and challenges. Ask for a list of references that includes both current and former customers, and speak to several types of users to get the most accurate picture of how the solution has impacted their business. And, if possible, request a site visit, so you can talk to users face-to-face and see how the product is being used in a real-world scenario.

Ask for a Demo
Seeing the application in action will provide insight into what each of the CRM companies can really offer. Ask vendors to conduct demonstrations that are customized specifically to your needs and objectives. Be wary of canned, pre-recorded, or self-running demos, which tend to highlight the features the CRM companies want you to see, not necessarily the ones you really care about.

Ask for a Free Trial
CRM companies always put their best foot forward during a demonstration. But, demos don’t necessarily reflect how the solution will work once it is installed in your own environment. A software trial can offer a more realistic experience, provide a more accurate picture of how the application will operate within the framework of your business, and give you a glimpse into what it will be like to work closely with each of the CRM companies you are evaluating.

It’s important to make sure you get all the information from each CRM company to make a detailed comparison of each vendor. Whenever you are comparing CRM companies, one of the last criteria should be the cost of their solution. If you focus on cost over the products features, you could end up with a CRM solution that doesn’t help your business.