“Technology made large populations possible; large populations now make technology indispensable.” – Joseph Wood Krutch
Keeping track of prospective business opportunities, meetings, emails, and ideal internal-hire candidates can drive a person batty if they don’t have the right system in place. Gone are the days of keeping prospect phone numbers and meeting minutes scribbled on shards of paper to follow-up with later. Top-notch CRM (customer relationship management) systems go a LONG way towards helping you and your sales team. If you want your business development division to run like a well-oiled machine, a robust and customizable CRM system that meets your needs is a must.
The great thing about a quality CRM system is the versatility. As an entrepreneur or business development professional, you can keep up with both current AND prospective clients to ensure you’re balancing your day correctly. There are a variety of CRM systems that are niche-based as well, which can be perfect depending on your industry. For instance, Bullhorn and Recruitee are very popular within staffing agencies, whereas Salesforce and Zoho are perhaps the two most popular worldwide for any industry. Many systems are cloud-based which can also reduce your in-house operating costs.
A few things to consider when vetting a CRM system for your company:
1. Consider your budget
Most CRM systems are on the per-user-per-month (PUPM) payment arrangement, which will normally end up as just another number in your accounts payable column. There is also the flat-rate per month option no matter how many users you have. Rates range from as low as $10/month to as high as a few hundred, depending on what is best for your business and how big your sales team is.
You want to make sure that not only can the CRM system you choose be customizable based on your particular industry and other operating software (e.g., your internal email server), you also want it to be mobile so that it’s easy and user-friendly for your sales reps who are physically in the field. Whether armed with their laptop or smartphone, it should be accessible for them to input new leads and opportunities AND keep track of pending meetings at the drop of a hat.
3. Reliable Tech Support
If you’re on the phone for hours and hours with a tech support rep who’s 5,000 miles away whose native language isn’t yours, you’ll be frustrated beyond belief. When vetting a CRM provider, don’t hesitate to ask how responsive their tech support team is to problems with the system and how quickly they can fix problems. It may be also worth it to see if you can negotiate a discount on your monthly bill should repairs and maintenance take longer than expected.
All of your customer and lead information will be contained in this system and believe me, corporate espionage is something that’s not just in the latest movie release. Make sure the security measures built-in are as impregnable as is necessary which will also cover loss of data.
NEVER invest in a CRM system that you can’t take for a test drive. Ideally, a month would suffice to see if it will truly meet the needs for your company. Try to negotiate at least a 2-week demo for your sales to team gauge the right fit. Once you are off-and-running with a system that your sales team is comfortable with and adept at using, you’ll be one step closer to meeting (and hopefully exceeding) whatever predetermined sales goals you’ve set for your company.