6 Crucial Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a CRM

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Jeff Sullivan

Senior editor

Parul Saxena

Chief editor

Last updated: August 26, 2021

Your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software houses the most important part of any business: its customers. Who your customers are, your relationships with them, and who you should approach in the future, it is all defined and cataloged in your CRM. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that this software is the heart and soul of your business.

The data agrees with this perspective as well. 91% of companies have myths about CRM tools with more than 11 employees use CRM in some form, up from 54% in 2015. 2018 was a landmark year for this software category – the CRM market surpassed database software to become the largest software market by revenues. In fact, overall global revenue from the CRM market is expected to increase from $36 billion in 2018 to $80 billion in 2025.

Looking for CRM Software? Check out SoftwareSuggest’s list of the best CRM software solutions.

Despite its importance, businesses frequently make mistakes when selecting and deploying their CRM software. They either choose something that is underpowered to handle their needs. Or they pick a tool that asks too much of their salespeople in terms of data entry and thus, goes abandoned.

Avoiding these mistakes when choosing and using CRM software is crucial if you want to get the most out of it for your business.

Avoid These Pitfalls To Choose Best CRM Software 

1. Not Integrating CRM with Your Project Management System

One of the biggest mistakes you can make with any CRM deployment is keeping it completely isolated from your project management system. This is particularly true for service-focused B2B businesses where projects and customers are intrinsically connected.

For example, a salesperson at a digital agency needs to know what kind of resources are currently available to sell to a potential client. If the project data is isolated from him, he won’t be able to offer an accurate quote. The result is an unhappy client and overcommitted resources.

Bringing your CRM and PM systems within the same fold rectifies several problems, such as:

  • Salespeople get a better insight into the availability of different resources based on the current status of ongoing projects.
  • Project managers can plan their resources better based on the deals currently in the sales pipeline.
  • Management and HR can hire better depending on the forecasted demand for different resources.

Try using a CRM that works with your project management system. By integrating all your systems, you will bring much-needed clarity to all parts of your organization.

2. Not Taking End-User Needs into Account

Too often, businesses pick a CRM automation that looks good on paper and impresses management with its features and capabilities. What they fail they take into account is the needs of the end-users. The specific end-user might vary from business to business, but usually, they are salespeople, marketing folks, customer support, and anyone else who needs to keep track of relationships (such as HR reps).

End-user needs often vary greatly from those of management. Management might prioritize pricing, on-premise performance, and even the reputation of the vendor. End-users, on the other hand, might focus on ease of use and how well the software integrates with their existing suite of tools.

The solution to this problem is to take end-user needs into account at every step of the CRM selection process. You can do this by:

  • Choosing a single point of contact (SPOC) from each department to streamline communication and understand end-user needs.
  • Involve end-users from the very start of the software selection process.
  • Focus on the features that end-users actually use, not the ones that merely sound good. Ask end-users how they go about their work on a daily basis. Prioritize features that would streamline these daily tasks.

3. Not Using a Mobile-Friendly CRM

CRM marketing has changed drastically over the last decade. In 2008, only 12% of businesses used a cloud-based SaaS CRM. In 2018, this number had increased to a whopping 87%.

A phenomenon related to this shift is the multi-device usage pattern of end-users today. Data shows that 81% of CRM users are accessing the software from multiple devices – smartphones, tablets, and laptops.

Given this change, choosing a CRM that doesn’t work on smartphones is a massive mistake. Not only will it affect your productivity, it will also discourage users from adopting the software. After all, if a salesperson can’t access his prospect list while he is on the go, he can’t really benefit from the CRM.

The solution to this problem is to choose the best mobile CRM apps. Look for something that keeps all data in the cloud and gives you access from multiple devices.

4. Not Choosing a Scalable CRM

Businesses often pick CRMs that have all the features and pricing they currently need. On paper this makes sense – why would you pay more for software that you don’t really need at the moment?

This thinking fails to take two things into account:

  1. The business’ growth and the change in needs that accompanies it.
  2. The tremendous cost of switching from one CRM to another.

The affordable CRM solution that’s “just right” for you today might turn out to be too limited and slow two years from now. At that point, you would have no choice but to shift to a new, more powerful CRM.

However, given the vast amount of data every CRM system deals with, this switch can incredibly difficult. CRMs frequently store their data in custom fields that don’t easily integrate with other systems. You might have to manually port data from one system to another – a painful, time-consuming process.

Thus, when you’re choosing a CRM software, buy something that works not just for your current needs, but for your future requirements as well.

5. Not Picking a Small-Enough CRM

If buying a CRM that doesn’t scale with your growth is a mistake, so is the opposite one – choosing a CRM that’s too complex and unwieldy for your needs.

This mistake frequently occurs when the person choosing a CRM overestimates the company’s growth plans. The buyer might account for, say, a 10% annual growth rate. But the management might have a completely different strategy chalked out. The end result is a CRM that’s too expensive and too feature-rich for actual users.

To rectify this mistake, you need to have an honest dialog with management about your growth plans. Ask your management questions such as:

  • How much does the management expect to invest in the business in the coming years?
  • Does the company plan to raise any outside funding? If yes, how does it plan to spend that money?
  • What is the expected investment in different areas of the company in the coming few years? If there are new resources being hired, how will they use the CRM?
  • Where do you see the business 1, 3, and 5 years from now?

Essentially, your goal should be to match your CRM selection with your growth trajectory. Otherwise, you might end up with a system that’s either too simple or too complex for your needs.

6. Not Choosing a Social CRM

A “social CRM” integrates social media into the CRM. Thus, apart from the customer’s name, email, phone number, and location details, you would also know what they last tweeted, their LinkedIn profile information, and what they’re currently posting on Instagram.

The Social CRM system opens up a whole new channel of customer engagement. It makes social selling drastically easier, letting salespeople interact with customers on channels they prefer. Armed with a social CRM, a salesperson can monitor a customer’s Twitter for mentions of the company’s product and jump in with an offer at the right time. This creates a far more intuitive customer experience than picking up the phone or sending an email.

Given how important social media is for the current (and future) generation of customers, using a social CRM should be a top priority for your business.

Over to You

CRM affects virtually every facet of your business. Choosing a CRM that works the way you work and can accommodate your future needs can be incredibly hard. But if you avoid the six mistakes we outlined above, you just might be able to pick a CRM that will help you grow to unprecedented heights in 2019.

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He is a marketing manager at Workamajig, a leading project management system for creative and digital agencies. When not helping agencies scale their businesses, he can be found fiddling with his guitar or perfecting his surfing technique.

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