SAP, Oracle, IBM, Salesforce, Salesnet, SugarCRM, Pipeline, and PipeDrive. These are a small sampling of the CRM vendors available on the market, each offering various solutions, bundles, and tiers. Undeniably, the selection process alone is a challenge, compounded by horror stories of implementation, adoption, and carrying costs. However even a basic CRM solution can provide significant sales and operations productivity gains essential for any firm’s business growth strategy.
In this CRM article series, CRM misconceptions and essential features are explored in detail, along with a guide to selecting the right solution for your organization, as well as Canadian government funding programs to help make the transition easier for small and medium-sized businesses.
CRM Misconceptions Debunked
Misconception 1: CRM systems are only useful for organizations with intricate sales cycles and large sales teams
While it is true that organizations with large sales teams and geographic dispersion could best leverage CRM solutions, even a basic CRM system can provide material improvements to contact record management, appointment scheduling, internal communications, and sales cycle visibility. A basic CRM provides the infrastructure that will be required as your business acquires new clients, engages in marketing initiatives, and grows its overall client base.
Misconception 2: CRM systems are too expensive
Names like Salesforce and SugarCRM resonate heavily in CRM solution space with some of the world’s largest companies on board, but these vendors also offer small business packages that can support your business needs. If you are unable to find the features you need at an affordable rate with ‘big brands,’ other very comprehensive affordable solutions exist such as PipeDrive, Salesnet, Zoho CRM, and Pipeline Deals that can be implemented and customized for less than $1000 per year. In addition, several small business funding grants and other Canadian government funding options are available to offset the cost of implementing the system.
Misconception 3: CRM systems have low sales team adoption
Your sales team’s function is to communicate value, foster relationships, and secure revenues. To ensure successful CRM adoption, management has to deliver proper training, emphasizing client management and productivity gains, as well as committing compensation to goals achieved or measured using the CRM solution. Sales representatives perceive CRM systems as a clerical or administrative tool that distracts them from ‘making money’, which perpetuates the likelihood to discourage others from using the system or having low regard for integrity of the sales and client records. The winning sales representative formula ties ‘making money’ into the CRM:
CRM adoption = capacity to manage more leads * better conversion rates * planning repeat business * tied compensation
Misconception 4: CRM systems are for everybody
At the end of the day, your efforts to find the right solution for your customers and sales team will be met with a sales representative selling the value of their solution as a perfect fit for your needs. If your daily operations involve prospecting and routine multiple client touch points, a CRM of some scope is likely of benefit to your business growth strategy. If you are established, stable, with only a handful of clients, a CRM may present less value due to a simple and established sales cycle.
Misconception 5: CRM systems require IT professionals to maintain
There are many solutions that are available ‘out of the box’ and customizable without any programming or systems experience. Both Zoho and Pipedrive are easy to setup, have simple interface, and have customizable solutions. While it is necessary to invest up-front time and due diligence including specification time to setup users, products, and custom fields if needed, most reports and analysis come pre-built and automated. Greater emphasis on adoption will result in data integrity, lowering commitment to clean up records afterwards.
Misconception 6: ERP systems are a better investment than CRM systems
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are different than CRM systems. Each system has a unique, albeit complimentary role in business operations. Whereas a CRM system focuses on sales cycle management and automation, an ERP system focuses on material and workflow planning and automation. Both have components of reporting and analysis, and a CRM can in fact improve ERP effectiveness by providing records of current and future sales orders that are closed or likely to close. An ERP in turn can provide details on expected lead times and barriers to product availability. Many vendors do offer both systems as well as standalone module extensions, which can significantly reduce implementation time as well as overall cost. Although there are small business funding grants for ERP System Implementation/Customization, the suitability of both an ERP and CRM depends on the company’s structure and needs.
Small Business Funding Grants to Support CRM Implementation, Customization, and Maintenance
- Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) Accelerated Review Process provides grant funding for business projects that revolve around software implementation, productivity improvements, and production design or marketing projects. This funding for small business program, which covers 80% direct labour costs and 50% sub-contractor costs, up to a maximum of $50K in non-repayable funding
- Information and Communications Technology (ICTC) Career Focus Program supports the hiring of a new graduate to perform IT activities such as software development, database creation and maintenance, and various other content and linking strategies. ICTC Career Focus contributes 50% of salary and benefits up to $12,750 to hire a graduate full-time for 4-8 months.
- Graduate Enterprise Internship (GEI)/iSTEM program supports the hiring of specialized graduates from the Science, Technical, Engineering and/or Mathematics (STEM) fields of study. The GEI/iSTEM program contributes 50% of salary (CPP+EI) for a 6-month internship, supporting up to $10K for graduate interns with a Bachelor degree, and up to $15K for Masters or Ph.D’s.
Contact Mentor Works: The Funding for Small Business Experts
If you would like to receive additional information regarding any of the programs mentioned in this article, or if you would like to learn more about other similar Canadian government grants and small business grants keep up with new from Mentor Works via their Canadian Government Funding Blog, or contact a Canadian Government Funding Expert for a free consultation. We invite you to follow Mentor Works’ activity on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. We also invite you to our next Free Canadian Government Funding Workshop on Wed. February 27th, 2013 at 10am in Burlington, Ontario.