Building and nourishing relationships with both new and existing clients is one of the top priorities for all B2B companies, irrespective of their industry. When managing your lists of clients and prospects becomes a challenging task and navigating sales opportunities becomes difficult, it’s time to look into a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. Not all CRM systems are created equal, of course, and some systems come with their own special considerations.
There are many CRM solutions on the market, with various similarities as well as unique features. So, whether your B2B company is looking for its first CRM solution or planning to upgrade an existing one, there are several factors that need to be considered before choosing the right B2B CRM solution.
A B2B CRM system can give you an edge over your competitors by helping you:
- Maintain a record of your interactions with your clients and prospects
- Manage your marketing and sales initiatives
- Nurture relationships with existing customers and prospects
- Focus on opportunities for increasing sales
- Improve communication between marketing and sales teams
- Convert potential buyers into customers
Ready to get started and find the B2B CRM system that’s right for you?
5 Factors to Consider When Choosing a B2B CRM Solution
1. Draft Your Company’s Goals and Objectives
The first and most significant factor is the alignment of your company’s goals and objectives with the B2B CRM solution. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What current business challenges do you want to solve?
- Are you getting the CRM to track new customers, existing ones, or both?
- How are you currently recording, tracking, and monitoring client communications?
- How sophisticated are your marketing, sales, and business development channels?
- How many people in your organization will use the CRM?
- What internal modifications do you need to make to implement a CRM solution?
- How will you measure the performance and results of your CRM solution?
Your answers will greatly impact which CRM is right for your company so don’t rush through the process of examining your goals.
2. Identify the Features and Functionalities You Require
Once you’ve drafted your business goals and objectives, prepare a list of features and functionalities that you want your CRM to have. A CRM will give you the ability to add clients, track them, add leads, nurture them, and so on. But some CRMs allow more customization of fields and reports than others.
A related consideration is the ability and/or willingness of your team to master using a new CRM. If anyone feels “married” to an existing platform or even a manual system of keeping records (we’ve encountered this situation multiple times with clients) you may have resistance -- or worse -- when you announce your plans to set up a new CRM. If this occurs, be prepared for extra training time.
3. Determine the CRM Deployment: On-Premise or Cloud?
In the case of an on-premise/on-site CRM the software is installed at your end, and you’ll have direct access if you want to integrate the CRM with other applications. The biggest advantage of this approach? You won’t pay beyond your initial purchase unless you buy an upgraded version down the road.
With a cloud-based CRM, you don’t need any technical knowledge to get started. All you do is log into the cloud-based CRM using your internet browser, and you’re good to go. All the data and files reside on the platform’s servers, which are maintained by the vendor whose CRM you sign up to use. The only drawback, of course, is that you need a live internet connection to use your CRM. This also means that if you or anyone on your sales team travels a lot, and you only have access to public Wi-Fi, you may want to be cautious about using your CRM.
One of the many features of HubSpot's CRM is the ability to integrate it with a Gmail or Office365 account. From your Inbox, you can open CRM records, use personalized Sales Templates, and schedule an automated series of messages with follow up tasks for any contact. When you're considering a new CRM, ask about all of its advanced features.
4. Make Sure the CRM Integrates with Other Applications
This one’s a no-brainer. A CRM is not just another piece of software you’re adding to your toolbox: you need it to help streamline internal processes and business operations. So, make sure your CRM solution can readily integrate with other applications you have in place such as ERP solutions, HR solutions, your website, e-commerce platforms, etc. It’s a good idea to discuss your plans for a new CRM, in advance, with your IT team – whether they are in-house or external partners – as they may need to get involved to ensure the system you want to use will operate seamlessly. Also, if you are going to migrate from one CRM to another, make sure you can transfer existing client data to your new CRM solution.
5. Select a CRM Solution That is Easy to Use and Mobile-Friendly
The ease of use should also be a critical factor when choosing a B2B CRM solution. You should look for a platform that has an intuitive and user-friendly interface. This will save you time on a day-to-day basis, and whatever you need to learn from scratch will seem logical and straightforward. (We’ve used “unfriendly” CRMs as well as easy-to-navigate CRMs.)
When you’re doing your research, ask the software companies if their CRM can be accessed from different browsers and devices. You may have users who are in the field a lot , in which case a mobile-friendly CRM solution is essential.
Finally, never buy a CRM solution without testing it. After you've been given a demonstration from the CRM solution provider, ask for a free trial for up to 30 days. During the demo, the sales team will walk you through the product and answer your queries but the typical “dog and pony show” is different from what you’ll experience using it on your own. Only until you’ve worked with the platform on your own will you know if it aligns well with your company's requirements.
We’ve used several CRMs over the years and would be happy to share our experiences with you. Currently we use HubSpot’s CRM and love how it integrates our sales and marketing activity. Contact us today if you’d like to talk about CRMs!