If you haven’t already downloaded it, make sure to download a free copy of the CRM Buyer’s Guide that I wrote.  It’s a great way to get insight on how to go about purchasing a CRM system for your organization or in some cases utilizing it to better evaluate what you already have.

In the CRM Buyer’s Guide I talk about establishing criteria for the selection of your CRM and the importance that it should weigh on your organization’s overall business strategy.  I like to compare the process of purchasing a home to that of finding the perfect CRM.  When you’re looking for a home you will typically sit down with a realtor.  The realtor is going to ask you a number of questions to help him/her to determine where to begin the search for homes.  Funny enough, if you’ve been looking for a CRM for awhile now you’ve probably noticed that there are a number of options out there that could probably rival the number of homes on the market at a given time in certain cities.  As a CRM consultant, we look to do the same process as a realtor would try to establish criteria for your home purchase.

The first point of criteria establish is to simply look at or develop a policy and procedures manual.  If you have one of these, then this is gold.  Your typical policy and procedures manual is a great place to start to help formulate the criteria of your CRM.  Questions a policy and procedure manual could answer include:

  1. What processes we do need to automate?
  2. What processes do we have that simply take up too much time?
  3. When it comes to policy, does the system need to regulate policies when capturing or processing information?

Policy is a neat area for a CRM.  Let’s say that we have a compliance requirement for sending email marketing.  If you’re a Canadian company then you fall into this area as we do at Eligeo CRM.  Every person must opt into our newsletter in order to receive it and they do that by checking off a check box on a download form or sign up form.

What if the customer called in rather than filled out a form?  There may be options in the CRM to ask the representative to verbally explain the terms of capturing an email address in the system.  This could be facilitated through work flow or business rules inside of the CRM.

When it comes to working with automation of processes, buyer beware.  It’s really easy to try and start automating as much as possible but you need to be careful that it doesn’t have unintended consequences when doing so.  For example, automation of emails can be a good or bad thing.  I like to send out an automated email to a prospect when they complete a form out on our website.  After that it’s mostly manual for me since I want to personalize each interaction.  Depending on what type of industry that you’re in this could decide whether you automate everything, part of it or none of it.  I find that B2C will do a lot more automation than B2B as the sheer volume of prospects is a lot higher than you would find in a typical B2B setting.

The best approach to developing a list of processes for potential automation is to develop a workflow diagram that breaks down all of the potential twists and turns of the process flow.  This will help you determine what can be automated and what can’t be automated.

Once you have created a list of workflows and policies that need to be incorporated into a CRM you can then start the process of building out criteria.  Policy and workflows are not the only things you will need to consider for criteria either.  Don’t forget to look into what types of information you need to capture, how your users will need to access the system (tablets, mobile, offline..etc), storage requirements, usability requirements and much more.

There are a lot more tips in the CRM Buyer’s Guide but this should at least give you some food for thought to get started on building your criteria list.

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