Off the Shelf vs. Custom Software: Selecting the Optimal CRM for your Business

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Adam Lilly, Chief Sales Officer, Tech Fabric

June 17 th, 2020

It’s fairly obvious that customer relationship management is an essential focus of any successful business, but the details get much more complicated. Maintaining the most favorable business-customer relationship contributes directly to the bottom-line by nurturing a strong and loyal customer base.

(Source: crm.walkme.com)

Modern technology delivers tools to automate customer relationship management (CRM).  It's an ever-evolving software ecosystem, currently including management of sales, marketing, accounts, reporting, and many more data-driven operations. Contenders consist of popular names you may be familiar with, such as Salesforce, HubSpot, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Oracle, SAP, NetSuite, and SugarCRM. However, dozens of other viable contenders make selecting the optimal CRM tricky at best.

What are the General Steps in CRM Selection for Business?

When it comes to selecting the best CRM for your business requirements, special care is required to ensure the system meets all the needs of your business. From suitability to implementation, integration, functionality, usability, scalability, performance, security, and more, you have to weigh the pros/cons of each system to select the best software for your specific business use cases.  We break this down into eight general steps.

1.) Research and Suitability Analysis

The first and most important step to selecting the right CRM is assessing the software's suitability for your business. Likewise, it's imperative to start the process with clearly defined business requirements. Consider the number of users required, records in your database, technical specifications, user workflows, and core business needs. A new startup's needs are vastly different from a mid-market or enterprise organization. Requirements for non-profits are different from retail e-commerce, and so on. Classifications can get somewhat granular, but a CRM falls into two general core types on the most basic level:

Operational / Collaborative CRM: Focused on front-office communication with customers, automating the sales, marketing, service, and customer relationship workflow.  Data includes customer records—all types—from sales data to specific customer touchpoints throughout the digital ecosystem. Once the database integrates with all the touchpoints, the frontend objective becomes enhancing customer interaction, loyalty, and other relevant KPI's, in addition to lowering customer service costs.

Analytical / Strategic CRM: In contrast, more back-office oriented, focused upon analyzing and enriching customer data—all types—both online and offline sources.  Then, from a data warehouse, analytical processing (potentially including AI and machine learning) finally yields actionable insights from the corresponding data.   TechFabric specializes in the analytical aspect of CRM. It also implements end-to-end custom CRM solutions to leverage available data and meet the most niche needs of mid-market and enterprise organizations.

CRM type is not mutually exclusive, many CRM's have both operational and analytical capabilities, yet each has its strength and weakness.  It's critical to start the process with defined business requirements derived from surveys and other feedback from the respective stakeholders in the organization.

2.) Understand the implementation

Implementation goes beyond the introduction of new software to include upgrades in the future. For starters, an implementation should be well-documented and well-suited for the technical expertise within your business ecosystem. If your entire organization runs on Microsoft software, for example, selecting a system developed by SAP or Salesforce, might not make the most sense.

(Source: activecampaign.com)

For you to execute all your business operations effectively, you need a CRM that can integrate seamlessly with several applications and other critical business systems. Instead of interacting with multiple third-party apps outside the CRM, you can also develop custom software such as TechFabric's custom Approve Engine CRM which integrates all the apps, websites, and tools required in a single application.

3.) Emphasize on scalability

The right CRM for you should be scalable enough to support the growth of your business over time. As your business grows and evolves, your CRM should follow suit without having big issues with more significant client structures. If you aspire to grow your business globally, you need a highly flexible CRM that can scale across markets and different currencies.

4.) Understand customization capability

Some business needs mandate a customizable CRM system like TechFabric's CRM portal, powered by Microsoft Azure. It features AI, specifically Natural Language Processing (NLP), catering to the specific niche needs of a rapidly growing mid-market organization. The basic 'out-of-the-box' functionalities offered by CRMs like Salesforce, Hubspot, SAP, and Oracle are a great match for most use cases, however custom CRM development may be the optimal route organizations with unique workflows or other needs.

5.) Don't forget mobile-friendly

In the digital age, mobile-friendly CRM is not a recommendation; it's a must-have. If your sales team works in the field, they need to access information from mobile devices. Salesforce and other popular systems feature native mobile applications, but as with all enhanced features, they could require additional licensing fees.  Custom mobile applications represent a higher upfront cost, typically the case with custom software development vs. licensing software.

(Source: crm.walkme.com)

6.) Usability and speed

CRM usability determines the ease of use, user-friendliness, efficiency, intuitive features, and other vital ingredients for success. It would help if you also had a CRM with a gentle learning curve that makes it easy to onboard recruits to the team quickly.  Demo the systems you consider and leverage usability as a critical factor in your consideration matrix.

7.) Affordability and value

CRM pricing matters regardless of the size of your business. If you own a small business, you need a well-priced all-in-one CRM system that meets most all your needs. Dive deeper for clarity of the pricing model, monthly fees, and additional charges to avoid the surprise of hidden costs.

8.) Research the quality of support

The fact that breakdowns are inevitable makes it critical to have a highly responsive tech team in place for recovery and to cut downtime. Make sure to examine the quality of support, historical uptime, ticketing process, and other factors that ultimately influence your troubleshooting and disaster recovery plan.

At TechFabric, we create digital products that integrate the most popular CRM(s) and build out saleable custom CRM(s) that meet specific niche business requirements. In the digital age, you may need much more than out-of-the-box functionalities to compete and thrive. You can rely on our robust custom software development team for CRM development.  Our analytical capabilities include machine learning and AI by certified developers. Reach out to the TechFabric sales team to learn more about getting the most out of your CRM initiative.

Adam Lilly, Chief Sales Officer, Tech Fabric

June 17 th, 2020

Adam Lilly

Chief Sales Officer, TechFabric

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