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Lessons Learned In CRM Software Selection

The Seven Deadly Sins of CRM Software Selection

  1. Narrowing the CRM vendor list too early
    During the early days of SaaS CRM software selection there were few vendors to choose from and
    many buyers were purchasing the SaaS value proposition more than any particular product. However,
    today the market has evolved and several web-based CRM solutions have matured, acquired respectable
    market share and demonstrated proven solutions. While there is a recognized list of CRM software
    products from vendors such as SAP,, Oracle On Demand, NetSuite, Microsoft, Aplicor
    and RightNow, other SaaS solutions may be appropriate based upon company size, industry or vertical
    market solution. As the CRM media and trade magazines like to point out, CRM failures remain
    unacceptably high. Brand buyers may become quite surprised - and later disappointed - if software
    selection due diligence is not thoroughly applied and multiple solutions considered. Similarly, steering
    toward a market leader because they are perceived to be a sure thing or easy decision may at the least
    miss the opportunity to acquire a higher fit solution or at the most contribute to the well publicized CRM failure rate.
  2. Not prioritizing business requirements
    Too many times buyers create an exhaustive list of system requirements without regard to prioritization. It's difficult to believe that the requirement of "increasing customer share" achieves the same weighted relevance as "ability to send email in HTML format" or that "ease of use" should be equated to "ability to copy contacts", however, when buyers fail to weight requirements and simply sum to a total score, the more meaningful criteria become diluted and lose relevance.
  3. Bypassing the CRM RFP
    Skipping the RFP (Request For Proposal) and failing to understand the measurable fit for each potential solution prior to a software demonstration causes two potentially dangerous conditions. First, this practice misses the opportunity to understand precisely what elements the software product does not achieve for your business and then explore those issues - as well as potential work-arounds or customization alternatives - during the software demonstration. Second, not objectively recognizing what the software does not do for your business places an increased decision making influence on product presentation instead of product fit.
  4. Permitting dog and pony show demos
    In order to achieve a meaningful and apples-to-apples product comparison, all vendors must demonstrate those factors most important to your CRM objectives. From the weighted RFP requirements, key objectives should be identified and incorporated into software demonstration scripts and provided to vendors in advance of the demonstrations. Recognize some CRM vendors loathe demonstration scripts and insist upon doing their standard software demonstration which achieves nothing more than highlighting their strengths and burying their product weaknesses. This demonstration practice, if permitted, will likely have little relevance to your organization's most important CRM requirements and will fail to flush out what the product doesn't do until after the procurement has been made and the implementation begun.
  5. Not calculating TCO
    With a software-as-a-service (SaaS) delivery model, many organizations fail to recognize there may be material costs beyond the software subscription that need to be considered in total cost of ownership (TCO) analysis. The most mistaken area in terms of cost estimating is unquestionably software customization. Many times, buying prospects review SaaS vendor's customization toolkits and do not really understand the level of technical skills required for their use. While some tools are graphically based and intended for power users or business analysts, others include syntax programming and will require a programmer or similar resource.
  6. Putting up with salesmanship games
    The CRM buying experience can be dramatically influenced for the good or the bad by the vendor's sales executives and the CRM company's sales approach. We've all incurred the well-dressed and flashy sales executives who have little time to understand your requirements, profess their market superiority as a response to your requirements, use the same software demonstration for every prospect and who do not correlate their sales commissions with your implementation success. The SaaS CRM industry has at least one major player known as a "drive by sales organization." This type of salesmanship will fail to achieve either a meaningful evaluation or secure any type of vendor commitment following the sale. If you incur this type of sales gamesmanship, refute it immediately. Insist upon truly professional sales executives who listen first and propose later.
  7. Failing to achieve vendor commitment
    Don't expect to secure a software vendor's commitment to your implementation success following the purchase decision. The majority of the popular online CRM vendors do not have the resourcing nor interest to dedicate to individual customers. However, if such dedication is required to earn the sale, it can be negotiated and documented in a purchase agreement. This type of vendor commitment goes a very long way in securing the vendor's more experienced consulting staff, support staff and management attention.
Bypass these seven deadly sins and you will be on the path to a successful software implementation and achievement of your CRM objectives. Provide Your Feedback