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Five Tips for Buying Small Business CRM Software

Like many companies, you may be looking for a small business software package that will address your sales force automation or customer relationship management needs, without putting too much of a strain on your financial resources.

Unfortunately, that’s not as easy as it sounds. The process of finding the right solution, then getting it for the right price, can often be confusion and frustrating.

Here are five quick tips that will help simplify the process of selecting and purchasing your small business software.

Tip 1: Outline Your Needs

Before you begin talking to vendors, you’ll need to accurately determine what your requirements are.

Ask yourself and other key project stakeholders, “What challenges are we trying to overcome?”, “What processes are we trying to improve?”, or “What are we trying to achieve?” The answers to questions like these will help you understand exactly what you expect from the small business software you choose, and decide what features and capabilities you will need.

Tip 2: Identify Potential Vendors

Consult with analysts or read the latest software reviews in industry trade journals and magazines to build a list of small business software vendors you want to speak to.

Begin your initial interviews by asking specific questions about products and features, so you can immediately rule out those solutions that won’t meet your requirements. Once you’ve identified the ones that do meet all your criteria, you’ll need to gather more detailed information about the vendor’s financial and company background, and conduct customer reference checks.

Tip 3: See It In Action

Ask each provider to perform a live, in-person demonstration of their small business software package – preferably one that has been custom-tailored to show how the solution will address your specific needs.

Tip 4: Test-Drive It

While a demonstration will give you a general idea of how a small business software system operates, it won’t show you how it will really work in a full production environment.

Ask the provider to let you trial the application for a few months, so you can see firsthand how it will function once it is installed, and how your users will react to it.

Tip 5: Negotiate Your Deal

Once you’ve selected a solution, you want to make sure you get it for the best possible price. You can better handle the negotiation process and get the most value for your money by:

  • Using the standard discounted price, not the list price, as your jumping off point for all negotiations.
  • Continuing to evaluate other small business software solutions, and letting your vendor know that price will be a big factor in your decision.
  • Not being swayed by free add-ons that you don’t want or need.
  • Offering to advocate for the vendor by serving as a reference, participating in a success story, or speaking to the media on their behalf.
  • Asking for discounts on consulting, maintenance, training, or other services.

If you’ve chosen a hosted or on-demand small business software solution, there are still ways to save money. Consider committing to a longer contract term in exchange for a lower monthly fee.