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The Search for a New CRM, Part 1

The Search for a New CRM, Part 1

Researching, identifying, choosing, and implementing a business software system can be a long process. The investment in a system is one that will last years and affect how an organization functions, both internally and externally. Investing in a new software system is a big step and all the key stakeholders in an organization should be involved in the decision-making process.

As with most companies, we have a CRM system in place to manage our sales and marketing processes. As our organization grows and evolves, our needs change and our current CRM system may no longer fit our requirements. This series will give you a front row seat of the steps we take and the process we’ll follow as we search for a new CRM system.

The Current Situation

Currently at, we have Zoho CRM in place as our CRM system, which is primarily used by our sales team. Zoho is a leading CRM system for small businesses, and the sales team as a whole is content with how it has worked for them.

Zoho has been customized so that it does what the sales team needs it to do, including opportunity tracking, campaign management, email templates, revenue tracking, reports, and the like. Filters and fields are also customized so that team members see exactly what they need.

This customization has made the system fit sales’ needs. At the same time, this customization has also made using the system a bit complex, especially for those of us in the company who do not use Zoho on a regular basis, such as the marketing department. Instead, our marketing team relies on Google Apps such as Google Docs and Google Calendar to track projects and keep tasks organized.

The Problem

Essentially, Sales and Marketing are using two different systems, resulting in a lack of visibility into what the other team is doing. Outreach is conducted by both teams, but without a central system in place that everyone uses, it can be difficult for other team members to see who has contacted who, when contact was established, what progress was made, who’s working on what project, and so forth.

The Goal: get everyone within the company on the same page, which will improve collaboration, efficiency, and visibility.

Key Features We are Looking for

  • Activity Tracking/Activity Stream
  • Email Integration
  • Google Doc Integration
  • Task Management
  • Contact Management
  • Task Management
  • Reports
  • Forecasting
  • Email Blasts Function
  • Email Templates
  • Triggers/Alerts/Event Reminders

A core requirement for sales, also, is to have complete visibility and single view for all customer touch points.

Potential Challenges

The sales team has done a lot of customization to Zoho so that it meets their needs, and so they’re happy to stay with it. In addition, adopting a completely new system may require a company-wide change in culture. Currently, people are accustomed to following the processes they have in place.

There’s been lots of buzz about social collaboration tools like Yammer and others with social and gamification features, but will having a “cool” solution with nifty features increase the likelihood that everyone uses the solution? Whatever the solution, the key factor is that everyone has to use the system in order for it to work. Having the right feature-set is important, but if no one is using the system, it won’t matter how robust the solution is.

Has your organization gone through a similar process in finding a new business software system? What are some of your tips for success and pitfalls to avoid? Share your experience in the comments section below.

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  • Consultant

Darlene Lin

Web Contributor,
Expert in CRM, Social, ITSM/IT Help Desk, and ERP
Darlene is a web contributor, specializing in the CRM, Social, IT Management and ERP segments. She has several years of experience covering the software technology world, writing about the latest companies and trends and interviewing the founders of emerging and ...