CRM A Buyers Guide

02.11.23 02:02 PM
It is accepted without question that the path to business growth and long-term prosperity relies on building strong interactions and relationships with existing and potential clients alike. Unfortunately, in the modern business world, traditional methods of customer service focused on the role of the individual service representative, with a hard-working methodology are not only lacking in meeting customer needs but also increasingly expensive. 
Accepting that a technology solution entitled CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solves the need for a tool that allows the scaling processes to meet desired relationships. These can range from customer service to marketing initiatives through to sales activities in a single location, open to the whole company. Having accepted this then the burning question is how the buyer can decide which solution best meets their needs and what should they consider when making a choice. 

CRM when correctly utilised provides not only a company strategy but offers a philosophy mandating how the company and its brand is seen. Therefore, getting it right is paramount when choosing the best option available. 

The aim of this article is to offer some questions, assist in deciding if your company is ready for a CRM implementation, and ultimately how it can assist in finding the best CRM to meet individual needs. 

CRM A Buyers Guide

First let’s define what CRM is and what it provides.   

CRM is a company wide business strategy designed to improve revenues, reduce costs improve retention and increase sales by utilising cutting edge technological solutions tailored to meet individual needs. 

The most effective philosophy is simple, put the customer first every time. When every interaction is considered through the customers perspective, then a better customer experience is delivered every time. A correctly implemented CRM system centralises information from every branch of a company to offer a united understanding of each customer at every stage, opportunities offered and the ability for departments to act cohesively. 

Who needs a CRM

It is probably easier to consider who does not need a CRM. Modern systems not only offer a large variety of functionality, they are also increasingly user friendly and can be designed to address the individual and unique needs of all types of businesses regardless of size. A modern CRM system offers true value through full functionality and simple maintenance, deployment, and growth management. 

How does CRM work

No technology, regardless of its level of sophistication is useful without a strategy in respect of its implementation and use. It is imperative that these elements must work together to bring a business strategy to life. A truly effective CRM brings together a customer centric approach with data management and process automation. Lets consider these points individually. 


If a strategy based on customer experience is centric then utilising a CRM becomes vital. A Gartner survey states that 89% of companies mostly compete on the basis of customer experience. Each and every customer transaction regardless of the channel allows a customer to form an opinion. 

Eventually this creates a customer mindset based on a brand and its values. Through using a CRM effectively then a positive impression can be fostered through: 

  1. Analysing continuous feedback. 
  2. Staff empowerment. 
  3. Customer focused leadership. 
  4. Customer understanding. 
  5. Designing the experience. 
  6. .Collecting metrics. 

A customer survey by Customer Think Corporation identified that Product and service scored 84% in deciding customers loyalty and propensity to purchase. 

Centralising Data

By combining sales, marketing, and customer service information together, it removes those contradictory silos which can occur in any company. By recording all interactions centrally, then together with a full customer history we can see ongoing conversations, follow ups and the status of any request with all departments sharing the same access to all data. 

Customer facing business process

Any company will have both business and customer facing processes. By definition a business facing process ensures a business runs efficiently for example HR, Finance, Planning. Access to all customer data is available and can be used effectively for budgeting and cost control, whilst accepting that those customer facing departments traditionally benefit most by a CRM implementation. These can be broken down to include: 
  • Marketing – Customer segmentation, Campaign development, Campaign execution, Project management. 
  • Sales – Lead management, Account management, Pipeline control, Opportunity management, Cross and upselling, Activity management. 
  • Customer Service – Request management, Service tracking, Escalation, Prioritising, Managing SLA’s, Account enquiries. 

How does a CRM benefit a business

In 2012 a survey by Tech News World asked 500 CRM users to detail what were the main benefits gained as a target and also by actual results. Now a decade later the priorities are exactly the same. 
  • Improve Customer Experience 75% 
  • Improve Customer Satisfaction and retention 66% 
  • Increase Sales 54%
  • Reduce costs 24% 

As times change the one constant seen is that successful companies focus fully on building a strong and loyal customer relationship. This defines CRM at its best. 

At this point and based on real customer feedback we can list the ways that CRM can and have impacted businesses of all sizes: 

Improve Decision making, Access real time data, Prepare sales tools, Improve call centre service levels, Identify repeat customers, Enhance productivity, Secure customer loyalty, Drive effective marketing strategies. 

Matching needs to the market offer

When planning on selecting a CRM a common mistake is to focus on the features rather than the benefits offered. Most systems share common basic features and could easily cause a focus on those functions that may be rarely used. 

Discuss with the prospective supplier what you are trying to achieve and how these would be catered for. More is not necessarily better, however ensure there is scope for further development and improved capability. It is never wrong to start small and then develop opportunities as they arise. 

The real key to a successful CRM criteria is what does the software do for you and how well the solution supports your companies key KPIs. 

Selecting a Vendor

When selecting a vendor to supply, then a simple checklist should include: 
  1. Industry experience. Ask for and consider case studies that reflect your business and their impact. 
  2. Customisation and training. Does the solution offer future development and is staff training offered. 
  3. Flexible deployment. Is the solution offered a cloud or on-premises solution. Is a mobile solution available. 
  4. Is a demonstration available showing a customer experience. 
  5. How is your and the customers data protected. 
  6. Are references available. 

Key questions to ask

Some important questions to pose to your potential vendor. 
  1. How long will the implementation process take? 
  2. How much training and additional services are needed? 
  3. How will the vendor handle any issues encountered? 
  4. How easy is the software to use and learn? 
  5. Can the system functionality be scaled up? 

Questions to ask yourself. 
  1. How do I measure success of the CRM? 
  2. What baselines am I measuring from? 
a. Revenues 
b. Sales activities 
c. Customer satisfaction 
d. Sales effectiveness 
e. Costs 

f. Base size showing annual growth to date

 3.  Is the organisation ready and open to new technology?


Hopefully the questions you may have in respect of CRM are covered within this document and it has been in some way helpful. I do think there are 2 key messages that need to be emphasised. 

When implemented and deployed well, CRM is critical in building success and is the glue that builds departments into a single team through the sharing and understanding of critical information. 

Whatever the size of your business, small, medium, or large, CRM is the one single application that is crucial in the modern business environment.