Evaluating the Best CRM Vendors

By Neil Zawacki
Updated: August 16, 2011

Many small businesses have trouble selecting a CRM vendor that can meet their needs. They don’t know the right questions to ask or what they should look at to make an informed decision. This article will provide advice on how to evaluate the numerous vendors and choose the best one for your business.

You should start by looking at the quality of customer support. You’re probably going to have lots of questions on how the system works, so you need to be able to get answers in a fast and efficient manner. You should also see whether they provide ongoing technical support or charge for each phone call. If you’re not careful, you could end up paying a lot for services that other vendors offer for free.

The next step is to figure out how much the vendor intends to outsource the solution. Some vendors use a different company to deploy the system or perform ongoing maintenance, while others have a team who manages these services. In general, you should look for a vendor that provides services in-house—it’s a good indicator they can meet your company’s specific needs.

Another important factor is the level of customization that is offered by the vendor. Each business is different, so you want a vendor who can modify tables, add menus, and change around the settings as needed. If the vendor uses a ‘one size fits all’ approach, you might not be able to capture the customer data that you need and respond to problems in a timely manner.

You may also want to read customer reviews and see what they have to say about the vendor. These can provide a close look at how the CRM functions in a business environment. If there’s a common complaint among the users or general sense of dissatisfaction, you may want to move on to a different vendor. Keep in mind that the reviews are not always objective and the customer may just have a grudge.

One final step is to do some research on the vendor’s history. If they’ve been around a few years and have a large customer base, it’s generally a good sign. If they’re a relatively new company, they can still provide the services you need but probably won’t have as much financial stability. The last thing you want is for the vendor to suddenly go out of business, so make sure you trust their ongoing business strategy before making your decision.

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