FAQ for Purchasing CRM Solutions

By Neil Zawacki
Updated: March 07, 2011

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) can provide numerous benefits for a business. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions when a company is looking to purchase a CRM solution:

1) How much does a CRM solution typically cost?

This answer varies depending on whether you want to purchase the hardware or just use a hosting company. If you want to obtain physical hardware that will be kept at your company, it will generally cost around several thousands of dollars. The software then tends to cost another $150 to $400, though cheaper versions may be available. You may also want to factor in the number of hours your staff will have to spend performing maintenance each week (at least two to three).

If you decide to go with a hosting company, a CRM solution typically costs between $5 and $250 a month. This price variation is generally based on the number of users, amount of customization, and special features that may be included. There is no cost of maintenance with this type of CRM since that service is automatically provided by the hosting company.

2) How do I know which special features to look for?

You should start by examining how you intend to use the CRM solution. If you will primarily use the system for customer support, you probably want the ability to track cases and automate the routing process. If you intend to use it with sales, then you should make sure the solution can automatically capture leads and set up a series of lead assignment rules.

If you want your marketing department to use the CRM solution, you should see whether it has the capability to plan marketing campaigns and manage mailing lists. You may also want the ability to measure your marketing performance through standardized reports. Overall, this answer is based on your primary business drivers and the extent that you want to integrate the CRM system.

3) Which CRM vendor should I go with?

One of the most important factors is the vendor’s history, and whether they are known to be reliable or not. You can generally find discussions of this on the internet, and there are several websites that provide individual ratings of companies. You should also make sure that their software has the features that you need, as well as the ability to manage the customer relations for a company of your size.

Most CRM vendors offer a 30-day demo of their product, which should give you a general idea of how the system will work. You may also be able to obtain an in-depth customized demonstration of the CRM software that is based on your company’s specific needs. If they don’t agree to this or don’t have the capability, then you may want to keep looking for a different vendor.

4) How can I negotiate the best possible deal?

You should start by figuring out the standard discount the vendor provides. This is typically located somewhere on the website (keep in mind this is not the listed price for the CRM solution). Mention this discount when you talk to the vendor about pricing options, and tell them that you are still looking at other providers. If you can determine their primary competitor, bring it up during the conversation.

The CRM vendor is likely to offer free items and special features to entice you to sign. You should generally ignore these unless you already had them on your list of things you wanted, and even then it is probably cheaper to just negotiate a lower price. You may also be able to arrange a lower monthly rate with hosted CRM companies if you agree to sign a longer contract than normal.

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