Do you compare the functions of all those CRM applications in your evaluation? Please stop.
I know: it’s your instinct, right? You’re used to making that spreadsheet and listing all the software choices at the top and the features on the side, then ticking off what each application offers. Fine, go ahead and do that. Because I know what you’re gonna find. You will see that each box is checked. Your spreadsheet will be nothing more than a grid of checkboxes. Why?
Because it’s now 2022 and the current mainstream CRM software products pretty much all offer the same features. Do not believe me? OK, check out the price and features comparison of popular choices like Zoho, Insightful, SugarCRM, Rapid and Pipe drive. You will notice something: they are quite similar. Sure, I can admit that some are cheaper than others or a few offer more choices for a given price. But not much. For the most part, you get similar features for about the same price with any product you choose.
Why is this? It’s because of the cloud. The product management teams behind all these good applications look at each other like hawks. Which means that if Zoho comes up with something innovative, you can be pretty sure that their closest competitors will be rolling out a similar offering in a few weeks. Or even earlier. There are no upgrades in the cloud like in the past. So software developers can – and do – immediately make changes to their user base to keep up with each other.
That’s why functions have become meaningless for the most part. CRMs for small and medium businesses offer the same. It’s like comparing the “features” offered in a Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, or Nissan Altima. All good cars. All the same stuff. Air conditioning. Ties. cruise control.
So how do you evaluate a potential CRM for your business? Ditch the spreadsheet, ignore the functions, and focus on these three things.
First, make sure your user base feels comfortable using it. Some people like the Accord over the Camry not because it has more features, but because it looks and feels better. Others think the opposite. The same goes for CRM systems. I have heard from many people that Zoho is very easy to use. I have an equal number of people who disagree. People are complicated. Take your test drive and make sure the majority of your users like the interface. This is where many CRMs differ.
Next, make sure your CRM system starts addressing the specific goals you’ve set. That means putting your company’s current data into the system and then testing its capabilities to manage leads, contacts, and calendars. Or do marketing. Or automate tasks. Or do what you want your CRM system to do once it’s fully deployed. Lean on the CRM vendor to demonstrate these things.
Finally, and most importantly: focus on the CRM supplier. That’s because you’re not buying a product. You enter into a long-term relationship. Will this company exist in 10 years? Is CRM their core offering? Is there sufficient support? Do they have a broad market for partner products and a partner channel to help you implement? How good is their reputation? Do your research online. Visit one of their user conferences. Before getting married, make sure you know your partner.
So if you’re still working on that spreadsheet and comparing CRMs, I suggest you ditch it. Focus on the three things above and you’ll make a better decision to choose that next CRM system.