CRM Vendor Selection Checklist

By Brian Boguhn
Updated: September 07, 2011

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is difficult enough to purchase as it is, with a vast variety of packages available in the marketplace all offering different things. Throw selecting a vendor into the mix, and you have what is seemingly an impossible task. It doesn’t need to be that difficult, though. Following a few easy steps through the use of a checklist can turn your vendor selection from impossible to very smooth.

You’ll need to build your checklist with key points that will help you narrow the selection process down to a winner. By assessing each vendor against each point, you can assign a grade to the point. Grade out all vendors completely, and the one with the best grade should fit your company’s needs.

What items should be included on the checklist? Let’s take a look at a few and discuss each one.

1. What niche does the vendor fit into? If you’re a small or medium sized business, you don’t want to be looking at enterprise class software, or vice versa. Whittle the vendors down to the niche in which your company exists.
2. References. The importance of this piece cannot be overstated. Get a list of references from the vendor and talk to them. They’ll give you a good idea as to what you can expect from the vendor.
3. Installation. Is installation included in the price of the package? Ask if you’re not sure.
4. Specialization/Tweaking. Will the vendor do any tweaking or customization of the package for you? If so, is there an additional cost?
5. Service/Warranty/Maintenance. Be sure to understand what you’re getting and how much it costs. Finding out when an issue exists isn’t the way to do it.
6. Training. Does the vendor offer training, or are you on your own. If training is offered, is it included or is it an extra cost?
7. Company stability and market share. Don’t go with a brand new company. Don’t go with a vendor who is on the ropes. Go with a company that has been in business for a few years and is on solid footing.
8. Intangibles. Is the company working to earn your business? They’ll most likely continue working afterward to keep it.

Add your own criteria to the list as well. Be as specific as you want; it’s worth it. The better your list, the better the choice you’ll make in the end.

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