CRM Integration via Business Funding Grants (Part 2/2)

In Part 2 we explore the benefits of various CRM systems and help determine which one you should select as your CRM.  (Read about common CRM Misconceptions in Part 1/2).

Benefits of a CRM System:

Each CRM software vendor makes a convincing case that their product is the best solution for your business growth strategy. As a reasonable benchmark of comparison, ensure that among the list of features, somehow the system will provide the following benefits:

Sales Productivity: Client contact info, employees, address, sales notes, and sales history are all in one location and should be accessible online or offline.  The CRM should also be able to track calls and book meetings; and all of your representatives can share information and records seamlessly (based on user-role security of course).

Sales Conversion: Your CRM should allow you to track the sales cycle (leads and deals) data by region, sales representative, and product. The sales history is accessible by product, sales representative, region, client, or outcome. As such you can focus in on low performing regions, products, or representatives and target training, book joint calls, provide product demand feedback, and revise your sales strategy to improve conversion.

Capacity Planning:  The software should also measure your lead conversion and sales cycle duration, along with product/order details, and have the ability to forecast when work orders will hit your production team. With visibility to lead generation and leads being managed by your sales team, you can also manage new lead assignments accordingly.   These features should help your sales team & production team planning planning improve dramatically.

Customer Relationships: New and existing representatives are able to review client history, regional cases, past notes from previous deals, and provide accurate product pricing and availability details. Given the available data on comparable clients as well as current deals in the pipeline; your representatives are able to better predict the client needs and provide appropriate product/service lead times.

Market Intelligence:  With most CRM’s you can compare conversion rates across regions, industry segments, client demographics, products, and prices. Since your CRM should also capture information regarding lead source and reasons for lost deals you also gain insight into your marketing efforts, as well as potential competitive activity.

Selecting a CRM: How to Choose a CRM Suitable to Your Business Needs.

1. Assess Your Resources

CRM’s take time to implement and maintain, require capacity to use the CRM on a daily basis, and a financial requirement, which can be assisted through small business government grants. Companies should budget for:

  • Time to select and trial e.g. 40 hours over 2 weeks
  • Time to customize and/or implement e.g. 60 hours over 2 weeks, 5 hours per month afterwards for maintenance
  • Time and resources to develop training materials and provide training e.g. 30 hours over 1 month
  • Cost of the base software e.g. $3,000 max
  • Cost of ongoing licenses e.g. 15$ / user per month max
  • Staff to run reports e.g. 1 financial/sales reporting staff that will take on CRM reports
  • Sales team bandwidth e.g. Expect team to enter details once a day for 20 minutes
  • Mobile expectations e.g. All representatives will have a mobile app and have data plans
  • Applicable business funding grants available to offset total cost of upgrade


2. Prioritize your needs

This will eliminate the need to consider some more expensive and complex solutions. Do you need to track products? Do you need client (company) AND contact (person) details? Do you need custom fields? Do you need extensive reporting for different groups? Etc.

3. Assess Features and Conditions

Make sure that you have clearly outlined and understand features in the product tier you are considering. Do not hesitate to enquire in detail with the vendor. Does the price increase after a certain number of users or years? Are custom fields only available for certain modules? Which modules are included? Are there limitations on mobile access, exporting, or other functionality? Is the system available without an internet connection? Sometimes vendors will tie up key features to enterprise level subscriptions, so ensure you have a clear understanding. If over 90% of your subscribed users will not be using a feature, assess if you really need it. Key features include:

  • Client record storage;
  • Sales and marketing automation (mass emails and mass updates to records + notifications);
  • Mobile compatibility;
  • Social integration for marketing and other campaigns;
  • Standard and customizable reports and analysis;
  • Custom field support;
  • Product database support;
  • Security roles and user groups; and,
  • Ability to import / export data; required to link to ERPs, Excel reports, etc.

4. Test Features, Integrate, and Training

Unless it is a custom built CRM from scratch (and there are very few reasons you would require that), you must trial it. If a trial is not available, don’t even consider the solution. All serious CRM vendors provide trial periods because they understand that the solution must fit your operations as it is a long-term investment. Depending on your time frame you may be able to trial your top 3 vendors.

Recommendation: Based on my own experiences top value solutions for small-medium enterprise that are looking for customizable solutions, easy implementation, and many features, at a low user cost (less than 15$ per month) should consider the following:

Pipedrive: a great solution for contact management, and A+ in terms of use and customization.

Zoho CRM: a comparable solution to enterprise level Salesforce, and SugarCRM products at less than half the price per user. Upgradeable and packed with features for productivity in sales, finance, marketing, and admin.

Business Funding Grants to Support CRM Implementation, Customization, and Maintenance

Contact Mentor Works to Find Business Funding Grants for CRMs

If you would like to learn more information regarding any of  the business funding grants above or a variety of other small business funding grants connect with Mentor Works Ltd. via their Canadian Government Funding Blog, or contact a Canadian Government Funding Expert for a free consultation.  Mentor Works can also be found on: FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Google+.   We also invite you to our next Free Canadian Government Funding Workshop on Wednesday February 27, 2013 at 10am in Burlington, ON.

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