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If you're wondering how to choose a CRM system, it's normal to feel stumped. After all, there are so many CRM options out there. Which type of CRM do you pick, for example, cloud-based SaaS vs on-premise? Or how do you compare and narrow down the CRM vendors?

It really just depends on what your business requires from a system and how that system fits into your existing processes. Here are some key points to consider during your search for the best CRM system…

Cloud SaaS vs on-premise?

How to choose the right CRM systemPhoto by fauxels from Pexels

When it comes to choosing a CRM system, one of the biggest debates is cloud vs on-premise. Or, more specifically, cloud SaaS vs on-premise. These questions can help you choose the better one for your business.

  • How sensitive is the data that you’re handling? If your data is so sensitive that you require military-grade security standards, you might be better off opting for an on-premise system.
  • Can you afford to be completely responsible for your data security? Hiring your own data security team (whether in-house or outsourcing) to protect your systems 24/7 can be expensive. With cloud SaaS, you’d receive round-the-clock support as part of your contract.
  • Can you afford the upfront costs associated with building a business system in-house? Building a bespoke CRM from scratch isn’t cheap. You’ll need the appropriate hardware and software (including a backup server), plus a team to build it.
  • Do you have the manpower and expertise to build a bespoke CRM? Leading on from the above, building a system from scratch isn’t easy either. If you don’t have the expertise in-house, you’ll need to outsource. And remember that even if you have in-house experts, the time they spend building the system is time they’re not spending on other projects.
  • Does the nature of your business require your processes and systems to be agile? If you’ll need to update your systems regularly, cloud SaaS could be the more convenient option. Updating on-premise is often very time-consuming and complex.
  • Do you have the manpower, expertise and infrastructure in place to maintain a bespoke system? In addition to data security, you’ll also need experts who can manage your system and resolve any issues. Cloud SaaS can be ideal if you don’t want to worry about that responsibility.

How to compare CRM vendors

Compare CRM vendorsPhoto by Christina Morillo from Pexels

It’s not just the type of CRM system you need to decide on, you also need to choose between the vendors. All might claim to the best CRM system or a ‘world-leading’ title. So, what differentiates them? These questions can help you narrow down your options.

  • How scalable is the solution? This is how simple it might be to scale up or down (e.g. add or remove users or increase or decrease storage space). The right solution will accommodate your business’ growing needs and allow you to make changes as and when you need to.
  • Will the benefits extend across multiple teams, not just sales? CRMs are integral for sales teams but they should also fit into your other teams’ processes (e.g. marketing and customer service). The right solution should close various gaps and boost productivity across the board.
  • How user-friendly is the solution? Getting employees to switch to a new system is no straightforward task. But if your CRM is easy-to-use and very user-friendly, it’s more likely to be accepted. It’s also easier to train your team.
  • Can it integrate with any third-party business solution, such as an ERP? The best CRMs can integrate with a multitude of key business solutions - ERP being a major one. For example, Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM can integrate with the Dynamics 365 ERP (F&O or BC), giving you a true 360-degree view of your business and your customers. Two birds, one stone.
  • How reputable is the provider? The reputation and stability of your CRM’s provider matters. So, look at the track records of various companies and read reviews and success stories before you make your decision.
  • How much support does the provider offer? Even the most user-friendly solutions may bring up questions and require you to seek support. The right provider will offer extensive after-sales support, whether it’s in-house training and implementation services or a support team ready to solve any issues that come up.
  • How expensive is the solution? We couldn’t forget cost, could we? The right solution is always one that’s within your budget. So, ensure you analyse what the cost of your CRM covers and what you really need. For example, after-sales support, training, implementation and updates.
  • How would your system fit into your existing processes? And finally, you need to review how your new CRM would fit into your existing business processes. Do you really need all of those features? Will it integrate with your ERP? Will it actually benefit any of your teams?

Discover the ultimate guide to choosing a CRM

At the end of the day, there really isn’t a right or wrong answer. Cloud SaaS may not always reign supreme over on-premise and one reputable vendor might not always be better than another. It depends on what you need from a CRM system and how that system would fit into your existing processes.

Our guide to choosing CRMs cover all of this in more depth. Download your copy to get started on your integrated CRM journey today.

Here's how to find the right CRM

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Your CRM system centralises your customer data so finding what you need to personalise customer engagements can be fast and easy. Your ERP system centralises your back-office data so again, finding what you need can be fast and easy. Integrate these two systems and you can centralise the data from both of these systems.
Having been involved with ERP over a number of years from a customer perspective, I’ve seen how the right ERP solution can help transform the way a business performs and brings all the relevant data and processes together under ‘one roof’. 
In a recent report we released in association with the Retail Gazette, over 110 organisations from their UK readership were surveyed. It was found the retail industry had seen the equivalent of five years of change over the 12-month period of this pandemic.
How well do you think your business knows its customers? Did you know the answer to that may well stem from your ERP-CRM integration? After all, your ERP system will help you manage your back-office activities while your CRM focuses on your front-office. So, an integration will allow you to access the right data at the right time.
An ERP and CRM system may both centralise data, eliminate siloes and boost the efficiency and profitability of a business. But they’re not the same thing. The biggest difference is an ERP system can manage back-office tasks to help you reduce overheads and improve process and cost efficiency. It is the official and legal transactional system of record for your business while a CRM system, which manages front-office tasks to help you boost sales volume, is not transactional in the same way.
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