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Customer Relationship Management Platform Selection Guide

Speed up the process to build your business case and select your CRM solution.

  • Customer relationship management (CRM) suites are an indispensable part of a holistic strategy for managing end-to-end customer interactions.
  • After defining an approach to CRM, selection and implementation of the right CRM suite is a critical step in delivering concrete business value for marketing, sales, and customer service.
  • Despite the importance of CRM selection and implementation, many organizations struggle to define an approach to picking the right vendor and rolling out the solution in an effective and cost-efficient manner.
  • IT often finds itself in the unenviable position of taking the fall for CRM platforms that don't deliver on the promise of the CRM strategy.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • IT needs to be a trusted partner in CRM selection and implementation, but the business also needs to own the requirements and be involved from the beginning.
  • CRM requirements dictate the components of the target CRM architecture, such as deployment model, feature focus, and customization level. Savvy application directors recognize the points in the project where the CRM architecture model necessitates deviations from a "canned" roll-out plan.
  • CRM selection is a multi-step process that involves mapping target capabilities for marketing, sales, and customer service, assigning requirements across functional categories, determining the architecture model to prioritize criteria, and developing a comprehensive RFP that can be scored in a weighted fashion.
  • Companies that succeed with CRM implementation create a detailed roadmap that outlines milestones for configuration, security, points of implementation, data migration, training, and ongoing application maintenance.

Impact and Result

  • A CRM platform that effectively meets the needs of marketing, sales, and customer service and delivers value.
  • Reduced costs during CRM selection.
  • Reduced implementation costs and time frame.
  • Faster time to results after implementation.

Customer Relationship Management Platform Selection Guide Research & Tools

1. Customer Relationship Management Platform Selection Guide – Speed up the process to build your business case and select your CRM solution.

This blueprint will help you build a business case for selecting the right CRM platform, defining key requirements, and conducting a thorough analysis and scan of the ever-evolving CRM market space.

2. CRM Business Case Template – Document the key drivers for selecting a new CRM platform.

Having a sound business case is essential for succeeding with a CRM. This template will allow you to document key drivers and impact, in line with the CRM Platform Selection Guide blueprint.

3. CRM Request for Proposal Template

Create your own request for proposal (RFP) for your customer relationship management (CRM) solution procurement process by customizing the RFP template created by Info-Tech.

4. CRM Suite Evaluation and RFP Scoring Tool

The CRM market has many strong contenders and differentiation may be difficult. Instead of relying solely on reputation, organizations can use this RFP tool to record and objectively compare vendors according to their specific requirements.

5. CRM Vendor Demo Script

Use this template to support your business's evaluation of vendors and their solutions. Provide vendors with scenarios that prompt them to display not only their solution's capabilities, but also how the tool will support your organization's particular needs.

6. CRM Use Case Fit Assessment Tool

Use this tool to help build a CRM strategy for the organization based on the specific use case that matches your organizational needs.


Member Testimonials

After each Info-Tech experience, we ask our members to quantify the real-time savings, monetary impact, and project improvements our research helped them achieve. See our top member experiences for this blueprint and what our clients have to say.

9.3/10


Overall Impact

$8,189


Average $ Saved

44


Average Days Saved

Client

Experience

Impact

$ Saved

Days Saved

Baldwin Wallace University

Guided Implementation

10/10

$3,779

3

Brethren Benefit Trust

Workshop

9/10

N/A

120

Benchmade

Guided Implementation

9/10

$12,599

10


Customer Relationship Management Platform Selection Guide

Speed up the process to build your business case and select your CRM solution.

Table of Contents

1. Analyst Perspective
2. Executive Summary
3. Blueprint Overview
4. Executive Brief
5. Phase 1: Understand CRM Functionality
6. Phase 2: Build the Business Case and Elicit CRM requirements
7. Phase 3: Discover the CRM Marketspace and Prepare for Implementation
8. Conclusion

Analyst Perspective

A strong CRM platform is paramount to succeeding with customer engagement.

Modern CRM platforms are the workhorses that provide functional capabilities and data curation for customer experience management. The market for CRM platforms has seen an explosion of growth over the last five years, as organizations look to mature their ability to deliver strong capabilities across marketing, sales, and customer service.

IT needs to be a trusted partner in CRM selection and implementation, but the business also needs to own the requirements and be involved from the get-go.

CRM selection must be a multistep process that involves defining target capabilities for marketing, sales, and customer service, prioritizing requirements across functional categories, determining the architecture model for the CRM environment, and developing a comprehensive RFP that can be scored in a weighted fashion.

To succeed with CRM implementation, create a detailed roadmap that outlines milestones for configuration, security, points of implementation, data migration, training, and ongoing application maintenance.

Photo of Ben Dickie, Research Lead, Customer Experience Strategy, Info-Tech Research Group. Ben Dickie
Research Lead, Customer Experience Strategy
Info-Tech Research Group

Executive Summary

Your Challenge

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) suites are an indispensable part of a holistic strategy for managing end-to-end customer interactions. Selecting the right platform that aligns with your requirements is a significant undertaking.

After defining an approach to CRM, selection and implementation of the right CRM suite is a critical step in delivering concrete business value for marketing, sales, and customer service.
Common Obstacles

Despite the importance of CRM selection and implementation, many organizations struggle to define an approach to picking the right vendor and rolling out the solution in an effective and cost-efficient manner.

The CRM market is rapidly evolving and changing, making it tricky to stay on top of the space.

IT often finds itself in the unenviable position of taking the fall for CRM platforms that don’t deliver on the promise of the CRM strategy.
Info-Tech’s Approach

CRM platform selection must be driven by your overall customer experience management strategy: link your CRM selection to your organization’s CXM framework.

Determine if you need a CRM platform that skews toward marketing, sales, or customer service; leverage use cases to help guide selection.

Ensure strong points of integration between CRM and other software such as MMS. A CRM should not live in isolation; it must provide a 360-degree view.

Info-Tech Insight

IT must work in lockstep with its counterparts in marketing, sales, and customer service to define a unified vision for the CRM platform.

Info-Tech’s methodology for selecting the right CRM platform

1. Understand CRM Features 2. Build the Business Case & Elicit CRM Requirements 3. Discover the CRM Market Space & Prepare for Implementation
Phase Steps
  1. Define CRM platforms
  2. Classify table stakes & differentiating capabilities
  3. Explore CRM trends
  1. Build the business case
  2. Streamline requirements elicitation for CRM
  3. Construct the RFP
  1. Discover key players in the CRM landscape
  2. Engage the shortlist & select finalist
  3. Prepare for implementation
Phase Outcomes
  • Consensus on scope of CRM and key CRM capabilities
  • CRM selection business case
  • Top-level use cases and requirements
  • Completed CRM RFP
  • CRM market analysis
  • Shortlisted vendor
  • Implementation considerations

Guided Implementation

A Guided Implementation (GI) is a series of calls with an Info-Tech analyst to help implement our best practices in your organization.

The CRM purchase process should be broken into segments:

  1. CRM vendor shortlisting with this buyer’s guide
  2. Structured approach to selection
  3. Contract review

What does a typical GI on this topic look like?

Phase 1

Phase 2

Phase 3

Call #1: Understand what a CRM platform is and the “art of the possible” for sales, marketing, and customer service. Call #2: Build the business case to select a CRM.

Call #3: Define your key CRM requirements.

Call #4: Build procurement items such as an RFP.
Call #5: Evaluate the CRM solution landscape and shortlist viable options.

Call #6: Review implementation considerations.

Info-Tech offers various levels of support to best suit your needs

DIY Toolkit

Guided Implementation

Workshop

Consulting

"Our team has already made this critical project a priority, and we have the time and capability, but some guidance along the way would be helpful." "Our team knows that we need to fix a process, but we need assistance to determine where to focus. Some check-ins along the way would help keep us on track." "We need to hit the ground running and get this project kicked off immediately. Our team has the ability to take this over once we get a framework and strategy in place." "Our team does not have the time or the knowledge to take this project on. We need assistance through the entirety of this project."

Diagnostics and consistent frameworks used throughout all four options

INFO~TECH RESEARCH GROUP

Customer Relationship Management Platform Selection Guide

Speed up the process to build your business case and select your CRM solution.

EXECUTIVE BRIEF

Info-Tech Research Group Inc. is a global leader in providing IT research and advice. Info-Tech’s products and services combine actionable insight and relevant advice with ready-to-use tools and templates that cover the full spectrum of IT concerns.
© 1997-2022 Info-Tech Research Group Inc.

What exactly is a CRM platform?

Our Definition: A customer relationship management (CRM) platform (or suite) is a core enterprise application that provides a broad feature set for supporting customer interaction processes, typically across marketing, sales and customer service. These suites supplant more basic applications for customer interaction management (such as the contact management module of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform or office productivity suite).

A customer relationship management suite provides many key capabilities, including but not limited to:

  • Account management
  • Order history tracking
  • Pipeline management
  • Case management
  • Campaign management
  • Reports and analytics
  • Customer journey execution

A CRM suite provides a host of native capabilities, but many organizations elect to tightly integrate their CRM solution with other parts of their customer experience ecosystem to provide a 360-degree view of their customers.

Stock image of a finger touching a screen showing a stock chart.

Info-Tech Insight

CRM feature sets are rapidly evolving. Focus on the social component of sales, marketing, and service management features, as well as collaboration, to get the best fit for your requirements. Moreover, consider investing in best-of-breed social media management platforms (SMMPs) and internal collaboration tools to ensure sufficient functionality.

Build a cohesive CRM selection approach that aligns business goals with CRM capabilities.

Info-Tech Insight

Customers expect to interact with organizations through the channels of their choice. Now more than ever, you must enable your organization to provide tailored customer experiences.

Customer expectations are on the rise: meet them!

A CRM platform is a crucial system for enabling good customer experiences.

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE IS EVOLVING

  1. Thoughtfulness is in
      Connect with customers on a personal level
  2. Service over products
      The experience is more important than the product
  3. Culture is now number one
      Culture is the most overlooked piece of customer experience strategy
  4. Engineering and service finally join forces
      Companies are combining their technology and service efforts to create strong feedback loops
  5. The B2B world is inefficiently served
      B2B needs to step up with more tools and a greater emphasis placed on customer experience

(Source: Forbes, 2019)

Identifying organizational objectives of high priority will assist in breaking down business needs and CRM objectives. This exercise will better align the CRM systems with the overall corporate strategy and achieve buy-in from key stakeholders.

A strong CRM platform supports a range of organizational objectives for customer engagement.

Increase Revenue Enable lead scoring Deploy sales collateral management tools Improve average cost per lead via a marketing automation tool
Enhance Market Share Enhance targeting effectiveness with a CRM Increase social media presence via an SMMP Architect customer intelligence analysis
Improve Customer Satisfaction Reduce time-to-resolution via better routing Increase accessibility to customer service with live chat Improve first contact resolution with customer KB
Increase Customer Retention Use a loyalty management application Improve channel options for existing customers Use customer analytics to drive targeted offers
Create Customer-Centric Culture Ensure strong training and user adoption programs Use CRM to provide 360-degree view of all customer interactions Incorporate the voice of the customer into product development

Succeeding with CRM selection and implementation has a positive effect on driving revenues and decreasing costs

There are three buckets of metrics and KPIs where CRM will drive improvements

The metrics of a smooth CRM selection and implementation process include:

  • Better alignment of CRM functionality to business needs.
  • Better functionality coverage of the selected platform.
  • Decreased licensing costs via better vendor negotiation.
  • Improved end-user satisfaction with the deployed solution.
  • Fewer errors and rework during implementation.
  • Reduced total implementation costs.
  • Reduced total implementation time.

A successful CRM deployment drives revenue

  • Increased customer acquisition due to enhanced accuracy of segmentation and targeting, superior lead qualification, and pipeline management.
  • Increased customer satisfaction and retention due to targeted campaigns (e.g. customer-specific deals), quicker service incident resolution, and longitudinal relationship management.
  • Increased revenue per customer due to comprehensive lifecycle management tools, social engagement, and targeted upselling of related products and services (enabled by better reporting/analytics).

A successful CRM deployment decreases cost

  • Deduplication of effort across business domains as marketing, sales, and service now have a common repository of customer information and interaction tools.
  • Increased sales and service agent efficiency due to their focus on selling and resolution, rather than administrative tasks and overhead.
  • Reduced cost-to-sell and cost-to-serve due to automation of activities that were manually intensive.
  • Reduced cost of accurate data due to embedded reporting and analytics functionality.

CRM platforms sit at the core of a well-rounded customer engagement ecosystem

At the center is 'Customer Relationship Management Platform' surrounded by 'Web Experience Management Platform', 'E-Commerce & Point-of-Sale Solutions', 'Social Media Management Platform', 'Customer Intelligence Platform', 'Customer Service Management Tools', and 'Marketing Management Suite'.

Customer Experience Management (CXM) Portfolio

Customer relationship management platforms are increasingly expansive in functional scope and foundational to an organization’s customer engagement strategy. Indeed, CRMs form the centerpiece for a comprehensive CXM system, alongside tools such as customer intelligence platforms and adjacent point solutions for sales, marketing, and customer service.

Review Info-Tech’s CXM blueprint below to build a complete, end-to-end customer interaction solution portfolio that encompasses CRM alongside other critical components. The CXM blueprint also allows you to develop strategic requirements for CRM based on customer personas and external market analysis.

Build a Strong Technology Foundation for Customer Experience Management

Sample of the 'Build a Strong Technology Foundation for Customer Experience Management' blueprint. Design an end-to-end technology strategy to drive sales revenue, enhance marketing effectiveness, and create compelling experiences for your customers.

View the blueprint

Considering a CRM switch? Switching software vendors drives high satisfaction

Eighty percent of organizations are more satisfied after changing their software vendor.

  • Most organizations see not only a positive change in satisfaction with their new vendor, but also a substantial change in satisfaction.
  • What matters is making sure your organization is well-positioned to make a switch.
  • When it comes to switching software vendors, the grass really can be greener on the other side.

Over half of organizations are 60%+ more satisfied after changing their vendor.

(Source: Info-Tech Research Group, "Switching Software Vendors Overwhelmingly Drives Increased Satisfaction", 2020.)

IT is critical to the success of your CRM selection and rollout

Today’s shared digital landscape of the CIO and CMO

Info-Tech Insight

Technology is the key enabler of building strong customer experiences: IT must stand shoulder to shoulder with the business to develop a technology framework for customer relationship management.

CIO

IT Operations

Service Delivery and Management

IT Support

IT Systems and Application

IT Strategy and Governance

Cybersecurity
Collaboration and Partnership

Digital Strategy = Transformation
Business Goals | Innovation | Leadership | Rationalization

Customer Experience
Architecture | Design | Omnichannel Delivery | Management

Insight (Market Facing)
Analytics | Business Intelligence | Machine Learning | AI

Marketing Integration + Operating Model
Apps | Channels | Experiences | Data | Command Center

Master Data
Customer | Audience | Industry | Digital Marketing Assets
CMO

PEO Media

Brand Management

Campaign Management

Marketing Tech

Marketing Ops

Privacy, Trust, and Regulatory Requirements

(Source: ZDNet, 2020)

CRM by the numbers

1/3

Statistical analysis of CRM projects indicates failures vary from 18% to 69%. Taking an average of those analyst reports, about one-third of CRM projects are considered a failure. (Source: CIO Magazine, 2017)

92%

92% of organizations report that CRM use is important for accomplishing revenue objectives. (Source: Hall, 2020)

40%

In 2019, 40% of executives name customer experience the top priority for their digital transformation. (Source: CRM Magazine, 2019)

Case Study

Align strategy and technology to meet consumer demand.
INDUSTRY
Entertainment
SOURCE
Forbes, 2017
Challenge

Beginning as a mail-out service, Netflix offered subscribers a catalog of videos to select from and have mailed to them directly. Customers no longer had to go to a retail store to rent a video. However, the lack of immediacy of direct mail as the distribution channel resulted in slow adoption.

Blockbuster was the industry leader in video retail but was lagging in its response to industry, consumer, and technology trends around customer experience.

Solution

In response to the increasing presence of tech-savvy consumers on the internet, Netflix invested in developing its online platform as its primary distribution channel. The benefit of doing so was two-fold: passive brand advertising (by being present on the internet) and meeting customer demands for immediacy and convenience. Netflix also recognized the rising demand for personalized service and created an unprecedented, tailored customer experience.

Results

Netflix’s disruptive innovation is built on the foundation of great customer experience management. Netflix is now a $28-billion company, which is tenfold what Blockbuster was worth.

Netflix used disruptive technologies to innovatively build a customer experience that put it ahead of the long-time video rental industry leader, Blockbuster.

CRM Buyer’s Guide

Phase 1

Understand CRM Features

Phase 1

1.1 Define CRM platforms

1.2 Classify table stakes & differentiating capabilities

1.3 Explore CRM trends

Phase 2

2.1 Build the business case

2.2 Streamline requirements elicitation for CRM

2.3 Construct the RFP

Phase 3

3.1 Discover key players in the CRM landscape

3.2 Engage the shortlist & select finalist

3.3 Prepare for implementation

This phase will walk you through the following activities:

  • Set a level of understanding of CRM technology.
  • Define which CRM features are table stakes (standard) and which are differentiating.
  • Identify the “Art of the Possible” in a modern CRM from a sales, marketing, and service lens.

This phase involves the following participants:

  • CIO
  • Applications manager
  • Project manager
  • Sales executive
  • Marketing executive
  • Customer service executive

Understand CRM table stakes features

Organizations can expect nearly all CRM vendors to provide the following functionality.

Lead Management Pipeline Management Contact Management Campaign Management Customer Service Management
  • Tracks and captures a lead’s information, automatically building a profile. Leads are then qualified through contact scoring models. Assigning leads to sales is typically automated.
  • Enables oversight over future sales. Includes revenue forecasting based on past/present trends, tracking sales velocity, and identifying ineffective sales processes.
  • Tracks and stores customer data, including demography, account and billing history, social media, and contact information. Typically, records and fields can be customized.
  • Provides integrated omnichannel campaign functionality and data analysis of customer intelligence. Data insights can be used to drive new and effective marketing campaigns.
  • Provides integrated omnichannel customer experiences to provide convenient service. Includes case and ticket management, automated escalation rules, and third-party integrations.

Identify differentiating CRM features

While not always “must-have” functionality, these features may be the final dealbreaker when deciding between two CRM vendors.

Image of clustered screens with various network and business icons surounding them.
  • Workflow Automation
    Automate repetitive tasks by creating workflows that trigger actions or send follow-up reminders for next steps.
  • Advanced Analytics and Reporting
    Provides customized dashboard visualizations, detailed reporting, AI-driven virtual assistants, data extraction & analysis, and ML forecasting.
  • Customizations and Open APIs
    Broad range of available customizations (e.g. for dashboards and fields), alongside ease of integration (e.g. via plugins or APIs).
  • Document Management
    Out-of-the-box centralized content repository for storing, uploading, and sharing documents.
  • Mobile Support
    Ability to support mobile devices, OSes, and platforms with a native application or HTML-based web-access.
  • Project and Task Management
    Native project and task management functionality, enhancing cross-team organization and communication.
  • Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ)
    Create and send quotes or proposals to prospective and current customers.

Features aren’t everything – be wary of common CRM selection pitfalls

You can have all the right features, but systemic problems will lead to poor CRM implementation. Dig out these root causes first to ensure a successful CRM selection.

50% of organizations believe the quality of their CRM data is “very poor” or “neutral.”

Without addressing data governance issues, CRMs will only be as good as your data.

Source: (Validity 2020)
27% of organizations report that bad data costs them 10% or more in lost revenue annually.
42% rate the trust that users have in their data as “high” or “very high.”
54% believe that sales forecasts are accurate or very accurate.
69% attribute poor CRM governance to missing or incomplete data, followed by duplicate data, incorrect data, and expired data. Other data issues include siloed data or disparate systems.
73% believe that they do not have a 360-degree view of their customers.

Ensure you understand the “art of the possible” in the CRM landscape

Knowing what is possible will help funnel which features are most suitable for your organization – having all the bells and whistles does not always equal strong ROI.

Holistically examine the potential of any CRM solution through three main lenses: Stock image of a person working with dashboards.

Sales

Identify sales opportunities through recording customers’ interactions, generating leads, nurturing contacts, and forecasting revenues.
Stock image of people experiencing digital ideas.

Marketing

Analyze customer interactions to identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities, drive customer loyalty, and use customer data for targeted campaigns.
Stock image of a customer service representative.

Customer Service

Improve and optimize customer engagement and retention, leveraging customer data to provide round-the-clock omnichannel experiences.

Art of the possible: Sales

Stock image of a person working with dashboards.

TRACK PROSPECT INTERACTIONS

Want to engage with a prospect but don’t know what to lead with? CRM solutions can track and analyze many of the interactions a prospect has with your organization, including with fellow staff, their clickthrough rate on marketing material, and what services they are downloading on your website. This information can then auto-generate tasks to begin lead generation.

COORDINATE LEAD SCORING

Information captured from a prospect is generated into contact cards; missing data (such as name and company) can be auto-captured by the CRM via crawling sites such as LinkedIn. The CRM then centralizes and scores (according to inputted business rules) a lead’s potential, ensuring sales teams coordinate and keep a track of the lead’s journey without wrongful interference.

AI-DRIVEN REVENUE FORECASTING

Generate accurate forecasting reports using AI-driven “virtual assistants” within the CRM platform. These assistants are personal data scientists, quickly noting discrepancies, opportunities, and what-if scenarios – tasks that might take weeks to do manually. This pulled data is then auto-forecasted, with the ability to flexibly adjust to real-time data.

Art of the possible: Marketing

Stock image of people experiencing digital ideas.

DRIVE LOYALTY

Data captured and analyzed in the CRM from customer interactions builds profiles and a deeper understanding of customers’ interests. With this data, marketing teams can deliver personalized promotions and customer service to enhance loyalty – from sending a discount on a product the customer was browsing on the website, to providing notifications about delivery statuses.

AUTOMATE WORKFLOWS

Building customer profiles, learning spending habits, and charting a customer’s journey for upselling or cross-selling can be automated through workflows, saving hours of manual work. These workflows can immediately respond to customer enquiries or deliver offers to the customer’s preferred channel based on their prior usage.

TARGETED CAMPAIGNING

Information attained through a CRM platform directly informs any marketing strategy: identifying customer segments, spending habits, building a better product based on customer feedback, and identifying high-spending customers. With any new product or offering, it is straightforward for marketing teams to understand where to target their next campaign for highest impact.

Art of the possible: Customer service

Stock image of a customer service representative.

OMNICHANNEL SUPPORT

Rapidly changing demographics and modes of communications require an evolution toward omnichannel engagement. Many customers now expect to communicate with contact centers not just by voice, but via social media. Agents need customer information synced across each channel they use, meeting the customer’s needs where they are.

INTELLIGENT SELF-SERVICE PORTALS

Customers want their issues resolved as quickly as possible. Machine-learning self-service options deliver personalized customer experiences, which also reduce both agent call volume and support costs for the organization.

LEVERAGING ANALYTICS

The future of customer service is tied up with analytics. This not only entails AI-driven capabilities that fetch the agent relevant information, skills-based routing, and using biometric data (e.g. speech) for security. It also feeds operations leaders’ need for easy access to real insights about how their customers and agents are doing.

Best-of-Breed Point Solutions

Full CRM Suite

Blue smiley face. Benefits
  • Features may be more advanced for specific functional areas and a higher degree of customization may be possible.
  • If a potential delay in real-time customer data transfer is acceptable, best-of-breeds provide a similar level of functionality to suites for a lower price.
  • Best-of-breeds allow value to be realized faster than suites, as they are easier and faster to implement and configure.
  • Rip and replace is easier, and vendor updates are relatively quick to market.
Benefits
  • Everyone in the organization works from the same set of customer data.
  • There is a “lowest common denominator” for agent learning as consistent user interfaces lower learning curves and increase efficiency in usage.
  • There is a broader range of functionality using modules.
  • Integration between functional areas will be strong and the organization will be in a better position to enable version upgrades without risking invalidation of an integration point between separate systems.
Green smiley face.
Purple frowny face. Challenges
  • Best-of-breeds typically cover less breadth of functionality than suites.
  • There is a lack of uniformity in user experience across best-of-breeds.
  • Data integrity risks are higher.
  • Variable infrastructure may be implemented due to multiple disparate systems, which adds to architecture complexity and increased maintenance.
  • There is potential for redundant functionality across multiple best-of-breeds.
Challenges
  • Suites exhibit significantly higher costs compared to point solutions.
  • Suite module functionality may not have the same depth as point solutions.
  • Due to high configuration availability and larger-scale implementation requirements, the time to deploy is longer than point solutions.
Orange frowny face.
Info-Tech Insight

Even if a suite is missing a potential module, the proliferation of app extensions, integrations, and services could provide a solution. Salesforce’s AppExchange, for instance, offers a plethora of options to extend its CRM solution – from telephony integration, to gamification.

CRM Buyer’s Guide

Phase 2

Build the Business Case & Elicit CRM Requirements

Phase 1

1.1 Define CRM platforms

1.2 Classify table stakes & differentiating capabilities

1.3 Explore CRM trends

Phase 2

2.1 Build the business case

2.2 Streamline requirements elicitation for CRM

2.3 Construct the RFP

Phase 3

3.1 Discover key players in the CRM landscape

3.2 Engage the shortlist & select finalist

3.3 Prepare for implementation

This phase will walk you through the following activities:

  • Identify goals, objectives, challenges, and costs to inform the business case for a new CRM platform.
  • Elicit and prioritize key requirements for your platform.
  • Port the requirements into Info-Tech’s CRM RFP Template.

This phase involves the following participants:

  • CIO
  • Applications manager
  • Project manager
  • Sales executive
  • Marketing executive
  • Customer service executive

Right-size the CRM selection team to ensure you get the right information but are still able to move ahead quickly

Full-Time Resourcing: At least one of these five team members must be allocated to the selection initiative as a full-time resource.

A silhouetted figure.

IT Leader

A silhouetted figure.

Technical Lead

A silhouetted figure.

Business Analyst/
Project Manager

A silhouetted figure.

Business Lead

A silhouetted figure.

Process Expert(s)

This team member is an IT director or CIO who will provide sponsorship and oversight from the IT perspective. This team member will focus on application security, integration, and enterprise architecture. This team member elicits business needs and translates them into technology requirements. This team member will provide sponsorship from the business needs perspective. Typically, a CMO or SVP of sales. These team members are the sales, marketing, and service process owners who will help steer the CRM requirements and direction.

Info-Tech Insight

It is critical for the selection team to determine who has decision rights. Organizational culture will play the largest role in dictating which team member holds the final say for selection decisions. For more information on stakeholder management and involvement, see this guide.

Be prepared to define what issues you are trying to address and why a new CRM is the right approach

Identify the current state and review the background of what you’ve done leading up to this point, goals you’ve been asked to meet, and challenges in solving known problems to help to set the stage for why your proposed solution is needed. If your process improvements have taken you as far as you can go without improved workflows or data, specify where the gaps are.
Arrows with icons related to the text on the right merging into one arrow. Alignment

Alignment to strategic goals is always important, but that is especially true with CRM because customer relationship management platforms are at the intersection of your organization and your customers. What are the strategic marketing, sales and customer service goals that you want to realize (in whole or in part) by improving your CRM ecosystem?

Impact to your business

Identify areas where your customers may be impacted by poor experiences due to inadequate or aging technology. What’s the impact on customer retention? On revenue?

Impact to your organization

Define how internal stakeholders within the organization are impacted by a sub-optimal CRM experience – what are their frustrations and pain points? How do issues with your current CRM environment prevent teams in sales, marketing, or service from doing their jobs?

Impact to your department

Describe the challenges within IT of using disparate systems, workarounds, poor data and reporting, lack of automation, etc., and the effect these challenges have on IT’s goals.

Align the CRM strategy with the corporate strategy

Corporate Strategy Unified Strategy CRM Strategy
Spectrum spanning all columns.
Your corporate strategy:
  • Conveys the current state of the organization and the path it wants to take.
  • Identifies future goals and business aspirations.
  • Communicates the initiatives that are critical for getting the organization from its current state to the future state.
  • The CRM strategy and the rationale for deploying a new CRM can be and should be linked, with metrics, to the corporate strategy and ultimate business objectives (such as improving customer acquisition, entering new segments, or improving customer lifetime value).
Your CRM strategy:
  • Communicates the organization’s budget and spending on CRM.
  • Identifies IT initiatives that will support the business and key CRM objectives.
  • Outlines staffing and resourcing for CRM initiatives.
CRM projects are more successful when the management team understands the strategic importance and the criticality of alignment. Time needs to be spent upfront aligning business strategies with CRM capabilities. Effective alignment between sales, marketing, customer service, operations, IT, and the business should happen daily. Alignment doesn’t just need to occur at the executive level, but also at each level of the organization.

2.1 Create your list of goals and milestones for CRM

1-3 hours

Input: Corporate strategy, Target key performance indicators, End-user satisfaction results (if applicable)

Output: Prioritized list of goals with milestones that can be met with a new or improved CRM solution

Materials: Whiteboard/flip charts, CRM Business Case Template

Participants: CIO, Application managers, CMO/SVP sales, Marketing, sales or service SMEs

  1. Review strategic goals to identify alignment to your CRM selection project. For example, digital transformation may be enhanced or enabled with a CRM solution that supports better outreach to key customer segments through improved campaign management.
  2. Next, brainstorm tactical goals with your colleagues.
  3. Identify specific goals the organization has set for the business that may be supported by improved customer prospecting, customer service, or analytics functionality through a better CRM solution.
  4. Identify specific goals your organization will be able to make possible with a new or improved CRM solution.
  5. Prioritize this list and lead with the most important goal that can be reached at the one-year, six-month, and three-month milestones.
  6. Document in the goals section of your business case.

Download the CRM Business Case Template and record the outputs of this exercise in the strategic business goals, business drivers, and technical drivers slides.

Identify what challenges exist with the current environment

Ensure you are identifying issues at a high level, so as not to drown in detail, but still paint the right picture. Identify technical issues that are impacting customer experience or business goals. Typical complaints for CRM solutions that are old or have been outgrown include:

1.

Lack of a flexible, configurable customer data model that supports complex relationships between accounts and contacts.

2.

Lack of a flexible, configurable customer data model that supports complex relationships between accounts and contacts.

3.

Lack of meaningful reports and useable dashboards, or difficulty in surfacing them.

4.

Poor change enablement resulting in business interruptions.

5.

Inability to effectively automate routine sales, marketing, or service tasks at scale via a workflow tool.

6.

Lack of proper service management features, such as service knowledge management.

7.

Inability to ingest customer data at scale (for example, no ability to automatically log e-mails or calls).

8.

Major technical deficiencies and outages – the incumbent CRM platform goes down, causing business disruption.

9.

The platform itself doesn’t exist in the current state – everything is done in Microsoft Excel!

Separate business issues from technical issues, but highlight where they’re connected and where technical issues are causing business issues or preventing business goals from being reached.

Before switching vendors, evaluate your existing CRM to see if it’s being underutilized or could use an upgrade

The cost of switching vendors can be challenging, but it will depend entirely on the quality of data and whether it makes sense to keep it.
  • Achieving success when switching vendors first requires reflection. We need to ask why we are dissatisfied with our incumbent software.
  • If the product is old and inflexible, the answer may be obvious, but don’t be afraid to include your incumbent in your evaluation if your issues might be solved with an upgrade.
  • Look at your use-case requirements to see where you want to take the CRM solution and compare them to your incumbent’s roadmap. If they don’t match, switching vendors may be the only solution. If your roadmaps align, see if you’re fully leveraging the solution or will be able to start working through process improvements.
Pie graph with a 20% slice. Pie graph with a 25% slice.

20%

Small/Medium Enterprises

25%

Large Enterprises
only occasionally or rarely/never use their software (Source: Software Reviews, 2020; N = 45,027)
Fully leveraging your current software now will have two benefits:
  1. It may turn out that poor leveraging of your incumbent software was the problem all along; switching vendors won’t solve the problem by itself. As the data to the right shows, a fifth of small/medium enterprises and a quarter of large enterprises do not fully leverage their incumbent software.
  2. If you still decide to switch, you’ll be in a good negotiating position. If vendors can see you are engaged and fully leveraging your software, they will be less complacent during negotiations to win you over.
Info-Tech Insight

Switching vendors won’t improve poor internal processes. To be fully successful and meet the goals of the business case, new software implementations must be accompanied by process review and improvement.

2.2 Create your list of challenges as they relate to your goals and their impacts

1-2 hours

Input: Goals lists, Target key performance indicators, End-user satisfaction results (if applicable)

Output: Prioritized list of challenges preventing or hindering customer experiences

Materials: Whiteboard/flip charts, CRM Business Case Template

Participants: CIO, Application managers, CMO/SVP sales, Marketing, sales, or service SMEs

  1. Brainstorm with your colleagues to discuss your challenges with CRM today from an application and process lens.
  2. Identify how these challenges are impacting your ability to meet the goals and identify any that are creating customer-facing issues.
  3. Group together like areas and arrange in order of most impactful. Identify which of these issues will be most relevant to the business case for a new CRM platform.
  4. Document in the current-state section of your business case.
  5. Discuss and determine if the incumbent solution can meet your needs or if you’ll need to replace it with a different product.

Download the CRM Business Case Template and document the outputs of this exercise in the current-state section of your business case.

Determine costs of the solution

Ensure the business case includes both internal and external costs related to the new CRM platform, allocating costs of project managers to improve accuracy of overall costs and level of success.

CRM solutions include application costs and costs to design processes, install, and configure. These start-up costs can be a significant factor in whether the initial purchase is feasible.

CRM Vendor Costs

  • Application licensing
  • Implementation and configuration
  • Professional services
  • Maintenance and support
  • Training
  • 3rd Party add-ons
  • Data transformation
  • Integration
When thinking about vendor costs, also consider the matching internal cost associated with the vendor activity (e.g. data cleansing, internal support).

Internal Costs

  • Project management
  • Business readiness
  • Change management
  • Resourcing (user groups, design/consulting, testing)
  • Training
  • Auditors (if regulatory requirements need vetting)
Project management is a critical success factor at all stages of an enterprise application initiative from planning to post-implementation. Ensuring that costs for such critical areas are accurately represented will contribute to success.

Download the blueprint Improve Your Statements of Work to Hold Your Vendors Accountable to define requirements for installation and configuration.

Bring in the right resources to guarantee success. Work with the PMO or project manager to get help with creating the SOW.

60% of IT projects are NOT finished “mostly or always” on time (Wellingtone, 2018).

55% of IT personnel feel that the business objectives of their software projects are clear to them (Geneca, 2017).

Document costs and expected benefits of the new CRM

The business case should account for the timing of both expenditures and benefits. It is naïve to expect straight-line benefit realization or a big-bang cash outflow related to the solution implementation. Proper recognition and articulation of ramp-up time will make your business case more convincing.

Make sure your timelines are realistic for benefits realization, as these will be your project milestones and your metrics for success.

Example:
Q1-Q2 Q3-Q6 Q6 Onwards

Benefits at 25%

At the early stages of an implementation, users are still learning the new system and go-live issues are being addressed. Most of the projected process improvements are likely to be low, zero, or even negative.

Benefits at 75%

Gradually, as processes become more familiar, an organization can expect to move closer to realizing the forecasted benefits or at least be in a position to recognize a positive trend toward their realization.

Benefits at 100%

In an ideal world, all projected benefits are realized at 100% or higher. This can be considered the stage where processes have been mastered, the system is operating smoothly, and change has been broadly adopted. In reality, benefits are often overestimated.

Costs at 50%

As with benefits, some costs may not kick in until later in the process or when the application is fully operational. In the early phases of implementation, factor in the cost of overlapping technology where you’ll need to run redundant systems and transition any data.

Costs at 100%

Costs are realized quicker than benefits as implementation activities are actioned, licensing and maintenance costs are introduced, and resourcing is deployed to support vendor activities internally. Costs that were not live in the early stages are an operational reality at this stage.

Costs at 100%+

Costs can be expected to remain relatively static past a certain point, if estimates accurately represented all costs. In many instances, costs can exceed original estimates in the business case, where costs were either underestimated, understated, or missed.

2.3 Document your costs and expected benefits

1-2 hours

Input: Quotes with payment schedule, Budget

Output: Estimated payment schedule and cost breakdown

Materials: Spreadsheet or whiteboard, CRM Business Case Template

Participants: CIO, Application managers, CMO/SVP sales, Marketing, sales, or service SMEs

  1. Estimate costs for the CRM solution. If you’re working with a vendor, provide the initial requirements to quote; otherwise, estimate as closely as you’re able.
  2. Calculate the five-year total cost for the solution to ensure the long-term budget is calculated.
  3. Break down costs for licenses, implementation, training, internal support, and hardware or hosting fees.
  4. Determine a reasonable breakdown of costs for the first year.
  5. Identify where residual costs of the old system may factor in if there are remaining contract obligations during the technology transition.
  6. Create a list of benefits expected to be realized within the same timeline.

Sample of the table on the previous slide.

Download the CRM Business Case Template and document the outputs of this exercise in the current-state section of your business case.

Identify risks and dependencies to mitigate barriers to success as you look to roll out a CRM suite

A risk assessment will be helpful to better understand what risks need to be mitigated to make the project a success and what risks are pending should the solution not be approved or be delayed.

Risk Criteria Relevant Questions
Timeline Uncertainty
  • How much risk is associated with the timeline of the CRM project?
  • Is this timeline realistic and can you reach some value in the first year?
Success of Similar Projects
  • Have we undertaken previous projects that are similar?
  • Were those successful?
  • Did we note any future steps for improvement?
Certainty of Forecasts
  • Where have the numbers originated?
  • How comfortable are the sponsors with the revenue and cost forecasts?
Chance of Cost Overruns
  • How likely is the project to have cost overruns?
  • How much process and design work needs to be done prior to implementation?
Resource Availability
  • Is this a priority project?
  • How likely are resourcing issues from a technical and business perspective?
  • Do we have the right resources?
Change During Delivery
  • How volatile is the area in which the project is being implemented?
  • Are changes in the environment likely?
  • How complex are planned integrations?

2.4 Identify risks to the success of the solution rollout and mitigation plan

1-2 hours

Input: List of goals and challenges, Target key performance indicators

Output: Prioritized list of challenges preventing or hindering improvements for the IT teams

Materials: Whiteboard/flip charts, CRM Business Case Template

Participants: CIO, Application managers, CMO/SVP sales, Marketing, sales, or service SMEs

  1. Brainstorm with your colleagues to discuss potential roadblocks and risks that could impact the success of the CRM project.
  2. Identify how these risks could impact your project.
  3. Document the ones that are most likely to occur and derail the project.
  4. Discuss potential solutions to mitigate risks.

Download the CRM Business Case Template and document the outputs of this exercise in the risk and dependency section of your business case. If the risk assessment needs to be more complex, complete the Risk Indicator Analysis in Info-Tech’s Business Case Workbook.

Start requirements gathering by identifying your most important use cases across sales, marketing, and service

Add to your business case by identifying which top-level use cases will meet your goals.

Examples of target use cases for a CRM project include:

  • Enhance sales acquisition capabilities (i.e. via pipeline management)
  • Enhance customer upsell and cross-sell capabilities
  • Improve customer segmentation and targeting capabilities for multi-channel marketing campaigns
  • Strengthen customer care capabilities to improve customer satisfaction and retention (i.e. via improved case management and service knowledge management)
  • Create actionable insights via enhanced reporting and analytics

Info-Tech Insight

Lead with the most important benefit and consider the timeline. Can you reach that goal and report success to your stakeholders within the first year? As you look toward that one-year goal, you can consider secondary benefits, some of which may be opportunities to bring early value in the solution.

Benefits of a successful deployment of use cases will include:
  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Improved operational efficiencies
  • Reduced customer turnover
  • Increased platform uptime
  • License or regulatory compliance
  • Positioned for growth

Typically, we see business benefits in this order of importance. Lead with the outcome that is most important to your stakeholders.

  • Net income increases
  • Revenue generators
  • Cost reductions
  • Improved customer service

Consider perspectives of each stakeholder to ensure functionality needs are met and high satisfaction results

Best of breed vs. “good enough” is an important discussion and will feed your success.

Costs can be high when customizing an ill-fitting module or creating workarounds to solve business problems, including loss of functionality, productivity, and credibility.

  • Start with use cases to drive the initial discussion, then determine which features are mandatory and which are nice-to-haves. Mandatory features will help determine high success for critical functionality and identify where “good enough” is an acceptable state.
  • Consider the implications to implementation and all use cases of buying an all-in-one solution, integration of multiple best-of-breed solutions, or customizing features that were not built into a solution.
  • Be prepared to shelve a use case for this solution and look to alternatives for integration where mandatory features cannot meet highly specialized needs that are outside of traditional CRM solutions.

Pros and Cons

Build vs. Buy

Multi-Source Best of Breed

Flexibility
vs.
architectural complexity

Vendor Add-Ons & Integrations

Lower support costs
vs.
configuration

Multi-source Custom

Flexibility
vs.
high skills requirements

Single Source

Lower support costs
vs.
configuration

2.5 Define use cases and high-level features for meeting business and technical goals

1-2 hours

Input: List of goals and challenges

Output: Use cases to be used for determining requirements

Materials: Whiteboard/flip charts, CRM Business Case Template

Participants: CIO, Application managers, CMO/SVP sales, Marketing, sales, or service SMEs

  1. Identify the key customer engagement use cases that will support your overall goals as defined in the previous section.
  2. The following slide has examples of use case domains that will be enhanced from a CRM platform.
  3. Define high-level goals you wish to achieve in the first year and longer term. If you have more specific KPIs to add, and it is a requirement for your organization’s documentation, add them to this section.
  4. Take note of where processes will need to be improved to benefit from these use-case solutions – the tools are only as good as the process behind them.

Download the CRM Business Case Template and document the outputs from this exercise in the current-state section of your business case.

Understand the dominant use-case scenarios across organizations to narrow the list of potential CRM solutions

Sales
Enablement

  • Generate leads through multiple channels.
  • Rapidly sort, score, and prioritize leads based on multiple criteria.
  • Create in-depth sales forecasts segmented by multiple criteria (territory, representative, etc.).

Marketing
Management

  • Manage marketing campaigns across multiple channels (web, social, email, etc.).
  • Aggregate and analyze customer data to generate market intelligence.
  • Build and deploy customer-facing portals.

Customer Service
Management

  • Generate tickets, and triage customer service requests through multiple channels.
  • Track customer service interactions with cases.
  • There is a need to integrate customer records with contact center infrastructure.
Info-Tech Insight

Use your understanding of the CRM use case to accelerate the vendor shortlisting process. Since the CRM use case has a direct impact on the prioritization of a platform’s features and capabilities, you can rapidly eliminate vendors from contention or designate superfluous modules as out-of-scope.

2.5.1 Use Info-Tech’s CRM Use-Case Fit Assessment Tool to align your CRM requirements to the vendor use cases

30 min

Input: Understanding of business objectives for CRM project, Use-Case Fit Assessment Tool

Output: Use-case suitability

Materials: Use-Case Fit Assessment Tool

Participants: Core project team, Project managers

  1. Use the Use-Case Fit Assessment Tool to understand how your unique business requirements map into which CRM use case.
  2. This tool will assess your answers and determine your relative fit against the use-case scenarios.
  3. Fit will be assessed as “Weak,” “Moderate,” or “Strong.”
    1. Consider the common pitfalls, which were mentioned earlier, that can cause IT projects to fail. Plan and take clear steps to avoid or mitigate these concerns.
    2. Note: These use-case scenarios are not mutually exclusive, meaning your organization can align with one or more scenarios based on your answers. If your organization shows close alignment to multiple scenarios, consider focusing on finding a more robust solution and concentrate your review on vendors that performed strongly in those scenarios or meet the critical requirements for each.

Download the CRM Use-Case Fit Assessment Tool

Once you’ve identified the top-level use cases a CRM must support, elicit, and prioritize granular platform requirements.

Understanding business needs through requirements gathering is the key to defining everything about what is being purchased, yet it is an area where people often make critical mistakes.

Info-Tech Insight

To avoid creating makeshift solutions, an organization needs to gather requirements with the desired future state in mind.

Risks of poorly scoped requirements

  • Fail to be comprehensive and miss certain areas of scope
  • Focus on how the solution should work instead of what it must accomplish
  • Have multiple levels of detail within the requirements, which are inconsistent and confusing
  • Drill all the way down into system-level detail
  • Add unnecessary constraints based on what is done today rather than focusing on what is needed for tomorrow
  • Omit constraints or preferences that buyers think are “obvious”

Best practices

  • Get a clear understanding of what the system needs to do and what it is expected to produce
  • Test against the principle of MECE – requirements should be “mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive”
  • Explicitly state the obvious and assume nothing
  • Investigate what is sold on the market and how it is sold. Use language that is consistent with that of the market and focus on key differentiators – not table stakes
  • Contain the appropriate level of detail – the level should be suitable for procurement and sufficient for differentiating vendors

Prioritize requirements to assist with vendor selection: focus on priority requirements linked to differentiated capabilities

Prioritization is the process of ranking each requirement based on its importance to project success. Hold a meeting for the domain SMEs, implementation SMEs, project managers, and project sponsors to prioritize the requirements list. At the conclusion of the meeting, each requirement should be assigned a priority level. The implementation SMEs will use these priority levels to ensure efforts are targeted toward the proper requirements and to plan features available on each release. Use the MoSCoW Model of Prioritization to effectively order requirements.


Pyramid of the MoSCoW Model.
The MoSCoW model was introduced by Dai Clegg of Oracle UK in 1994.

The MoSCoW Model of Prioritization

Requirements must be implemented for the solution to be considered successful.

Requirements that are high priority should be included in the solution if possible.

Requirements are desirable but not necessary and could be included if resources are available.

Requirements won’t be in the next release, but will be considered for the future releases.

Base your prioritization on the right set of criteria

Effective Prioritization Criteria

Criteria

Description

Regulatory & Legal Compliance These requirements will be considered mandatory.
Policy Compliance Unless an internal policy can be altered or an exception can be made, these requirements will be considered mandatory.
Business Value Significance Give a higher priority to high-value requirements.
Business Risk Any requirement with the potential to jeopardize the entire project should be given a high priority and implemented early.
Likelihood of Success Especially in “proof of concept” projects, it is recommended that requirements have good odds.
Implementation Complexity Give a higher priority to low implementation difficulty requirements.
Alignment With Strategy Give a higher priority to requirements that enable the corporate strategy.
Urgency Prioritize requirements based on time sensitivity.
Dependencies A requirement on its own may be low priority, but if it supports a high-priority requirement, then its priority must match it.

2.6 Identify requirements to support your use cases

1-2 hours

Input: List of goals and challenges

Output: Use cases to be used for determining requirements

Materials: Whiteboard/flip charts, Vendor Evaluation Workbook

Participants: CIO, Application managers, CMO/SVP sales, Marketing, sales, or service SMEs

  1. Work with the team to identify which features will be most important to support your use cases. Keep in mind there will be some features that will require more effort to implement fully. Add that into your project plan.
  2. Use the features lists on the following slides as a guide to get started on requirements.
  3. Prioritize your requirements list into mandatory features and nice-to-have features (or use the MoSCoW model from the previous slides). This will help you to eliminate vendors who don’t meet bare minimums and to score remaining vendors.
  4. Use this same list to guide your vendor demos.

Our Improve Requirements Gathering blueprint provides a deep dive into the process of eliciting, analyzing, and validating requirements if you need to go deeper into effective techniques.

CRM features

Table stakes vs. differentiating

What is a table stakes/standard feature?

  • Certain features are standard for all CRM tools, but that doesn’t mean they are all equal.
  • The existence of features doesn’t guarantee their quality or functionality to the standards you need. Never assume that “Yes” in a features list means you don’t need to ask for a demo.
  • If Table Stakes are all you need from your CRM solution, the only true differentiator for the organization is price. Otherwise, dig deeper to find the best price to value for your needs.

What is a differentiating/additional feature?

  • Differentiating features take two forms:
    • Some CRM platforms offer differentiating features that are vertical specific.
    • Other CRM platforms offer differentiating features that are considered cutting edge. These cutting-edge features may become table stakes over time.

Table stakes features for CRM

Account Management Flexible account database that stores customer information, account history, and billing information. Additional functionality includes: contact deduplication, advanced field management, document linking, and embedded maps.
Interaction Logging and Order History Ability to view all interactions that have occurred between sales teams and the customer, including purchase order history.
Basic Pipeline Management View of all opportunities organized by their current stage in the sales process.
Basic Case Management The ability to create and manage cases (for customer service or order fulfilment) and associate them with designated accounts or contacts.
Basic Campaign Management Basic multi-channel campaign management (i.e. ability to execute outbound email campaigns). Budget tracking and campaign dashboards.
Reports and Analytics In-depth reports on CRM data with dashboards and analytics for a variety of audiences.
Mobile Support Mobile access across multiple devices (tablets, smartphones and/or wearables) with access to CRM data and dashboards.

Additional features for CRM

Customer Information Management Customizable records with detailed demographic information and the ability to created nested accounts (accounts with associated sub-accounts or contact records).
Advanced Case Management Ability to track detailed interactions with members or constituents through a case view.
Employee Collaboration Capabilities for employee-to-employee collaboration, team selling, and activity streams.
Customer Collaboration Capabilities for outbound customer collaboration (i.e. the ability to create customer portals).
Lead Generation Capabilities for generating qualified leads from multiple channels.
Lead Nurturing/Lead Scoring The ability to evaluate lead warmth using multiple customer-defined criteria.
Pipeline and Deal Management Managing deals through cases, providing quotes, and tracking client deliverables.

Additional features for CRM (Continued)

Marketing Campaign Management Managing outbound marketing campaigns via multiple channels (email, phone, social, mobile).
Customer Intelligence Tools for in-depth customer insight generation and segmentation, predictive analytics, and contextual analytics.
Multi-Channel Support Capabilities for supporting customer interactions across multiple channels (email, phone, social, mobile, IoT, etc.).
Customer Service Workflow Management Capabilities for customer service resolution, including ticketing and service management.
Knowledge Management Tools for capturing and sharing CRM-related knowledge, especially for customer service.
Customer Journey Mapping Visual workflow builder with automated trigger points and business rules engine.
Document Management The ability to curate assets and attachments and add them to account or contact records.
Configure, Price, Quote The ability to create sales quotes/proposals from predefined price lists and rules.

2.7 Put it all together – port your requirements into a robust RFP template that you can take to market!

1-2 hours
  1. Once you’ve captured and prioritized your requirements – and received sign-off on them from key stakeholders – it’s time to bake them into a procurement vehicle of your choice.
  2. For complex enterprise systems like a CRM platform, Info-Tech recommends that this should take the form of a structured RFP document.
  3. Use our CRM RFP Template and associated CRM RFP Scoring Tool to jump-start the process.
  4. The next step will be conducting a market scan to identify contenders, and issuing the RFP to a shortlist of viable vendors for further evaluation.

Need additional guidance on running an effective RFP process? Our Drive Successful Sourcing Outcomes with a Robust RFP Process has everything you need to ace the creation, administration and assessment of RFPs!

Samples of the CRM Request for Proposal Template and CRM Suite Evaluation and RFP Scoring Tool.

Download the CRM Request for Proposal Template

Download the CRM Suite Evaluation and RFP Scoring Tool

Identify whether vertical-specific CRM platforms are a best fit

In mature vendor landscapes (like CRM) vendors begin to differentiate themselves by offering vertical-specific platforms, modules, or feature sets. These feature sets accelerate the implantation, decrease the platform’s learning curve, and drive user adoption. The three use cases below cover the most common industry-specific offerings:

Public Sector

  • Constituent management and communication.
  • Constituent portal deployment for self-service.
  • Segment constituents based on geography, needs and preferences.

Education

  • Top-level view into the student journey from prospect to enrolment.
  • Track student interactions with services across the institution.
  • Unify communications across different departments.

Financial Services

  • Determine customer proclivity for new services.
  • Develop self-service banking portals.
  • Track longitudinal customer relationships from first account to retirement management.
Info-Tech Insight

Vertical-specific solutions require less legwork to do upfront but could cost you more in the long run. Interoperability and vendor viability must be carefully examined. Smaller players targeting niche industries often have limited integration ecosystems and less funding to keep pace with feature innovation.

Rein-in ballooning scope for CRM selection projects

Stretching the CRM beyond its core capabilities is a short-term solution to a long-term problem. Educate stakeholders about the limits of CRM technology.

Common pitfalls for CRM selection

  • Tangential capabilities may require separate solutions. It is common for stakeholders to list features such as “content management” as part of the new CRM platform. While content management goes hand in hand with the CRM’s ability to manage customer interactions, document management is best handled by a standalone platform.

Keeping stakeholders engaged and in line

  • Ballooning scope leads to stakeholder dissatisfaction. Appeasing stakeholders by over-customizing the platform will lead to integration and headaches down the road.
  • Make sure stakeholders feel heard. Do not turn down ideas in the midst of an elicitation session. Once the requirements-gathering sessions are completed, the project team has the opportunity to mark requirements as “out of scope” and communicate the reasoning behind the decision.
  • Educate stakeholders on the core functionality of CRM. Many stakeholders do not know the best-fit use cases for CRM platforms. Help end users understand what CRM is good at and where additional technologies will be needed.
Stock image of a man leaping with a balloon.

CRM Buyer’s Guide

Phase 3

Discover the CRM Market Space & Prepare for Implementation

Phase 1

1.1 Define CRM platforms

1.2 Classify table stakes & differentiating capabilities

1.3 Explore CRM trends

Phase 2

2.1 Build the business case

2.2 Streamline requirements elicitation for CRM

2.3 Construct the RFP

Phase 3

3.1 Discover key players in the CRM landscape

3.2 Engage the shortlist & select finalist

3.3 Prepare for implementation

This phase will walk you through the following activities:

  • Dive into the key players of the CRM vendor landscape.
  • Understand best practices for building a vendor shortlist.
  • Understand key implementation considerations for CRM.

This phase involves the following participants:

  • CIO
  • Applications manager
  • Project manager
  • Sales executive
  • Marketing executive
  • Customer service executive

Consolidating the Vendor Shortlist Up-Front Reduces Downstream Effort

Put the “short” back in shortlist!

  • Radically reduce effort by narrowing the field of potential vendors earlier in the selection process. Too many organizations don’t funnel their vendor shortlist until nearing the end of the selection process. The result is wasted time and effort evaluating options that are patently not a good fit.
  • Leverage external data (such as SoftwareReviews) and expert opinion to consolidate your shortlist into a smaller number of viable vendors before the investigative interview stage and eliminate time spent evaluating dozens of RFP responses.
  • Having fewer RFP responses to evaluate means you will have more time to do greater due diligence.
Stock image of river rapids.

Review your use cases to start your shortlist

Your Info-Tech analysts can help you narrow down the list of vendors that will meet your requirements.

Next steps will include:
  1. Reviewing your requirements
  2. Checking out SoftwareReviews
  3. Shortlisting your vendors
  4. Conducting demos and detailed proposal reviews
  5. Selecting and contracting with a finalist!
Image of a person presenting a dashboard of the steps on the left.

Get to know the key players in the CRM landscape

The proceeding slides provide a top-level overview of the popular players you will encounter in the CRM shortlisting process.

Logos of the key players in the CRM landscape (Salesforce, Microsoft, Oracle, HubSpot, etc).

Evaluate software category leaders through vendor rankings and awards

SoftwareReviews

Sample of SoftwareReviews' Data Quadrant Report. Title page of SoftwareReviews' Data Quadrant Report. The Data Quadrant is a thorough evaluation and ranking of all software in an individual category to compare platforms across multiple dimensions.

Vendors are ranked by their Composite Score, based on individual feature evaluations, user satisfaction rankings, vendor capability comparisons, and likeliness to recommend the platform.

Sample of SoftwareReviews' Emotional Footprint. Title page of SoftwareReviews' Emotional Footprint. The Emotional Footprint is a powerful indicator of overall user sentiment toward the relationship with the vendor, capturing data across five dimensions.

Vendors are ranked by their Customer Experience (CX) Score, which combines the overall Emotional Footprint rating with a measure of the value delivered by the solution.

Speak with category experts to dive deeper into the vendor landscape

SoftwareReviews

Icon of a person.


Fact-based reviews of business software from IT professionals.

Icon of a magnifying glass over a chart.


Top-tier data quality backed by a rigorous quality assurance process.

CLICK HERE to ACCESS

Comprehensive software reviews to make better IT decisions

We collect and analyze the most detailed reviews on enterprise software from real users to give you an unprecedented view into the product and vendor before you buy.

Icon of a tablet.


Product and category reports with state-of-the-art data visualization.

Icon of a phone.


User-experience insight that reveals the intangibles of working with a vendor.

SoftwareReviews is powered by Info-Tech

Technology coverage is a priority for Info-Tech, and SoftwareReviews provides the most comprehensive unbiased data on today’s technology. Combined with the insights of our expert analysts, our members receive unparalleled support in their buying journey.

Logo for Salesforce.
Est. 1999 | CA, USA | NYSE: CRM

bio

Link for their Twitter account. Link for their LinkedIn profile. Link for their website.
Sales Cloud Enterprise allows you to be more efficient, more productive, more everything than ever before as it allows you to close more deals, accelerate productivity, get more leads, and make more insightful decisions.

SoftwareReviews’ Enterprise CRM Rankings

Strengths:
  • Breadth of features
  • Quality of features
  • Sales management functionality
Areas to Improve:
  • Cost of service
  • Ease of implementation
  • Telephony and contact center management
Logo gif for SoftwareReviews.
8.0
COMPOSITE SCORE
8.3
CX SCORE
+77
EMOTIONAL FOOTPRINT
83%
LIKELINESS TO RECOMMEND
DOWNLOAD REPORT 600
REVIEWS
Vendor scores are driven by real-world practitioner reviews via SoftwareReviews. Composite, CX, EF and NPS scores pulled from live data as of June 2022. Rankings and ”strengths” and ”areas to improve” pulled from January 2022 Category Report.
Sample of a Salesforce screen. Vendor Pulse rating. How often do we hear about Salesforce from our members for CRM? 'Very Frequently'.
History of Salesforce in a vertical timeline.
*Pricing correct as of August 2021. Listed in USD and absent discounts.
See pricing on vendor’s website for latest information.
Logo for Salesforce.

“Salesforce is the pre-eminent vendor in the CRM marketplace and is a force to be reckoned with in terms of the breadth and depth of its capabilities. The company was an early disruptor in the category, placing a strong emphasis from the get-go on a SaaS delivery model and strong end-user experience. This allowed them to rapidly gain market share at the expense of more complacent enterprise application vendors. A series of savvy acquisitions over the years has allowed Salesforce to augment their core Sales and Service Clouds with a wide variety of other solutions, from e-commerce to marketing automation to CPQ. Salesforce is a great fit for any organization looking to partner with a market leader with excellent functional breadth, strong interoperability, and a compelling technology and partner ecosystem. All of this comes at a price, however – Salesforce prices at a premium, and our members routinely opine that Salesforce’s commercial teams are overly aggressive – sometimes pushing solutions without a clear link to underpinning business requirements.”

Ben Dickie
Research Practice Lead, Info-Tech Research Group

Sales Cloud Essentials Sales Cloud Professional Sales Cloud Enterprise Sales Cloud Ultimate
  • Starts at $25*
  • Per user/mo
  • Small businesses after basic functionality
  • Starts at $75*
  • Per user/mo
  • Mid-market target
  • Starts at $150*
  • Per user/mo
  • Enterprise target
  • Starts at $300*
  • Per user/mo
  • Strong upmarket feature additions
Logo for Microsoft.


Est. 1975 | WA, USA | NYSE: MSFT

bio

Link for their Twitter account.Link for their LinkedIn profile.Link for their website.
Dynamics 365 Sales is an adaptive selling solution that helps your sales team navigate the realities of modern selling. At the center of the solution is an adaptive, intelligent system – prebuilt and ready to go – that actively monitors myriad signals and distills them into actionable insights.

SoftwareReviews’ Enterprise CRM Rankings

Strengths:

  • Business value created
  • Analytics and reporting
  • Lead management

Areas to Improve:

  • Quote, contract, and proposals
  • Vendor support
Logo gif for SoftwareReviews.
8.1
COMPOSITE SCORE
8.3
CX SCORE
+84
EMOTIONAL FOOTPRINT
82%
LIKELINESS TO RECOMMEND
DOWNLOAD REPORT 198
REVIEWS
Vendor scores are driven by real-world practitioner reviews via SoftwareReviews. Composite, CX, EF and NPS scores pulled from live data as of June 2022. Rankings and ”strengths” and ”areas to improve” pulled from January 2022 Category Report.
Sample of a Microsoft screen.Vendor Pulse rating. How often do we hear about Microsoft Dynamics from our Members? 'Very Frequently'.

History of Microsoft in a vertical timeline.

*Pricing correct as of June 2022. Listed in USD and absent discounts.
See pricing on vendor’s website for latest information.
Logo for Microsoft.
“”

“Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a strong and compelling player in the CRM arena. While Microsoft is no stranger to the CRM space, their offerings here have seen steady and marked improvement over the last five years. Good functional breadth paired with a modern user interface and best-in-class Microsoft stack compatibility ensures that we consistently see them on our members’ shortlists, particularly when our members are looking to roll out CRM capabilities alongside other components of the Dynamics ecosystem (such as Finance, Operations, and HR). Today, Microsoft segments the offering into discrete modules for sales, service, marketing, commerce, and CDP. While Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a strong option, it’s occasionally mired by concerns that the pace of innovation and investment lags Salesforce (its nearest competitor). Additionally, the marketing module of the product is softer than some of its competitors, and Microsoft themselves points organizations with complex marketing requirements to a strategic partnership that they have with Adobe.”

Ben Dickie
Research Practice Lead, Info-Tech Research Group

D365 Sales Professional D365 Sales Enterprise D365 Sales Premium
  • Starts at $65*
  • Per user/mo
  • Midmarket focus
  • Starts at $95*
  • Per user/mo
  • Enterprise focus
  • Starts at $135*
  • Per user/mo
  • Enterprise focus with customer intelligence
Logo for Oracle.


Est. 1977 | CA, USA | NYSE: ORCL

bio

Link for their Twitter account.Link for their LinkedIn profile.Link for their website.
Oracle Engagement Cloud (CX Sales) provides a set of capabilities to help sales leaders transition smoothly from sales planning and execution through customer onboarding, account management, and support services.

SoftwareReviews’ Enterprise CRM Rankings

Strengths:

  • Quality of features
  • Activity and workflow management
  • Analytics and reporting

Areas to Improve:

  • Marketing management
  • Product strategy & rate of improvement
Logo gif for SoftwareReviews.
7.8
COMPOSITE SCORE
7.9
CX SCORE
+77
EMOTIONAL FOOTPRINT
78%
LIKELINESS TO RECOMMEND
DOWNLOAD REPORT 140
REVIEWS
Vendor scores are driven by real-world practitioner reviews via SoftwareReviews. Composite, CX, EF and NPS scores pulled from live data as of June 2022. Rankings and ”strengths” and ”areas to improve” pulled from January 2022 Category Report.
Sample of an Oracle screen.Vendor Pulse rating. How often do we hear about Oracle from our members for CRM? 'Frequently'.

History of Oracle in a vertical timeline.

Logo for Oracle.

“Oracle is long-term juggernaut of the enterprise applications space. Their CRM portfolio is diverse – rather than a single stack, there are multiple Oracle solutions (many made by acquisition) that support CRM capabilities – everything from Siebel to JD Edwards to NetSuite to Oracle CX applications. The latter constitute Oracle’s most modern stab at CRM and are where the bulk of feature innovation and product development is occurring within their portfolio. While historically seen as lagging behind other competitors like Salesforce and Microsoft, Oracle has made excellent strides in improving their user experience (via their Redwoods design paradigm) and building new functional capabilities within their CRM products. Indeed, SoftwareReviews shows Oracle performing well in our most recent peer-driven reports. Nonetheless, we most commonly see Oracle as a pricier ecosystem play that’s often subordinate to a heavy Oracle footprint for ERP. Many of our members also express displeasure with Oracle as a vendor and highlight their heavy-handed “threat of audit” approach. ”

Ben Dickie
Research Practice Lead, Info-Tech Research Group

Oracle CX Sales - Pricing Opaque:

“Request a Demo”

Logo for SAP.


Est. 1972 | Germany | NYSE: SAP

bio

Link for their Twitter account.Link for their LinkedIn profile.Link for their website.
SAP is the third-largest independent software manufacturer in the world, with a presence in over 120 countries. Having been in the industry for over 40 years, SAP is perhaps best known for its ERP application, SAP ERP.

SoftwareReviews’ Enterprise CRM Rankings

Strengths:

  • Ease of data integration

Areas to Improve:

  • Lead management
  • Marketing management
  • Collaboration
  • Usability & intuitiveness
  • Analytics & reporting
Logo gif for SoftwareReviews.
7.4
COMPOSITE SCORE
7.8
CX SCORE
+74
EMOTIONAL FOOTPRINT
75%
LIKELINESS TO RECOMMEND
DOWNLOAD REPORT 108
REVIEWS
Vendor scores are driven by real-world practitioner reviews via SoftwareReviews. Composite, CX, EF and NPS scores pulled from live data as of June 2022. Rankings and ”strengths” and ”areas to improve” pulled from January 2022 Category Report.
Sample of a SAP screen.Vendor Pulse rating. How often do we hear about SAP from our members for CRM? 'Occasionally'.

History of SAP in a vertical timeline.

*Pricing correct as of August 2021. Listed in USD and absent discounts.
See pricing on vendor’s website for latest information.
Logo for SAP.

“SAP is another mainstay of the enterprise applications market. While they have a sound breadth of capabilities in the CRM and customer experience space, SAP consistently underperforms in many of our relevant peer-driven SoftwareReviews reports for CRM and adjacent areas. CRM seems decidedly a secondary focus for SAP, behind their more compelling play in the enterprise resource planning (ERP) space. Indeed, most instances where we see SAP in our clients’ shortlists, it’s as an ecosystem play within a broader SAP strategy. If you’re blue on the ERP side, looking to SAP’s capabilities on the CRM front makes logical sense and can help contain costs. If you’re approaching a CRM selection from a greenfield lens and with no legacy vendor baggage for SAP elsewhere, experience suggests you’ll be better served by a vendor that places a higher degree of primacy on the CRM aspect of their portfolio.”

Ben Dickie
Research Practice Lead, Info-Tech Research Group

SAP CRM - Pricing Opaque:

“Request a Demo”

Logo for pipedrive.


Est. 2010 | NY, USA | Private

bio

Link for their Twitter account.Link for their LinkedIn profile.Link for their website.
Pipedrive brings together the tools and data, the platform focuses sales professionals on fundamentals to advance deals through their pipelines. Pipedrive's goal is to make sales success inevitable - for salespeople and teams.

SoftwareReviews’ Enterprise CRM Rankings

Strengths:

  • Sales Management
  • Account & Contact Management
  • Lead Management
  • Usability & Intuitiveness
  • Ease of Implementation

Areas to Improve:

  • Customer Service Management
  • Marketing Management
  • Product Strategy & Rate of Improvement
Logo gif for SoftwareReviews.
8.3
COMPOSITE SCORE
8.4
CX SCORE
+85
EMOTIONAL FOOTPRINT
85%
LIKELINESS TO RECOMMEND
DOWNLOAD REPORT 262
REVIEWS
Vendor scores are driven by real-world practitioner reviews via SoftwareReviews. Composite, CX, EF and NPS scores pulled from live data as of June 2022. Rankings and ”strengths” and ”areas to improve” pulled from January 2022 Category Report.
Sample of a Pipedrive screen.Vendor Pulse rating. How often do we hear about Pipedrive from our members for CRM? 'Occasionally'.

History of Pipedrive in a vertical timeline.

*Pricing correct as of June 2022. Listed in USD and absent discounts.
See pricing on vendor’s website for latest information.
Logo for Pipedrive.

“A relatively new offering, Pipedrive has seen explosive growth over the last five years. They’re a vendor that has gone from near-obscurity to popping up frequently on our members’ shortlists. Pipedrive’s secret sauce has been a relentless focus on high-velocity sales enablement. Their focus on pipeline management, lead assessment and routing, and a good single pane of glass for sales reps has driven significant traction for the vendor when sales enablement is the driving rationale behind rolling out a new CRM platform. Bang for your buck is also strong with Pipedrive, with the vendor having a value-driven licensing and implementation model.

Pipedrive is not without some shortcomings. It’s laser-focus on sales enablement is at the expense of deep capabilities for marketing and service management, and its profile lends itself better to SMBs and lower midmarket than it does large organizations looking for enterprise-grade CRM.”

Ben Dickie
Research Practice Lead, Info-Tech Research Group

Essential Advanced Professional Enterprise
  • Starts at $12.50*
  • Per user/mo
  • Small businesses after basic functionality
  • Starts at $24.90*
  • Per user/mo
  • Small/mid-sized businesses
  • Starts at $49.90*
  • Per user/mo
  • Lower mid-market focus
  • Starts at $99*
  • Per user/mo
  • Enterprise focus
Logo for SugarCRM.


Est. 2004 | CA, USA | Private

bio

Link for their Twitter account.Link for their LinkedIn profile.Link for their website.
Produces Sugar, a SaaS-based customer relationship management application. SugarCRM is backed by Accel-KKR.

SoftwareReviews’ Enterprise CRM Rankings

Strengths:

  • Ease of customization
  • Product strategy and rate of improvement
  • Ease of IT administration

Areas to Improve:

  • Marketing management
  • Analytics and reporting
Logo gif for SoftwareReviews.
8.4
COMPOSITE SCORE
8.8
CX SCORE
+92
EMOTIONAL FOOTPRINT
84%
LIKELINESS TO RECOMMEND
DOWNLOAD REPORT 97
REVIEWS
Vendor scores are driven by real-world practitioner reviews via SoftwareReviews. Composite, CX, EF and NPS scores pulled from live data as of June 2022. Rankings and ”strengths” and ”areas to improve” pulled from January 2022 Category Report.
Sample of a SugarCRM screen.Vendor Pulse rating. How often do we hear about SugarCRM from our members for CRM? 'Frequently'.
History of SugarCRM in a vertical timeline.
*Pricing correct as of August 2021. Listed in USD and absent discounts.
See pricing on vendor’s website for latest information.
Logo for SugarCRM.

“SugarCRM offers reliable baseline capabilities at a lower price point than other large CRM vendors. While SugarCRM does not offer all the bells and whistles that an Enterprise Salesforce plan might, SugarCRM is known for providing excellent vendor support. If your organization is only after standard features, SugarCRM will be a good vendor to shortlist.

However, ensure you have the time and labor power to effectively implement and train on SugarCRM’s solutions. SugarCRM does not score highly for user-friendly experiences, with complaints centering on outdated and unintuitive interfaces. Setting up customized modules takes time to navigate, and SugarCRM does not provide a wide range of native integrations with other applications. To effectively determine whether SugarCRM does offer a feasible solution, it is recommended that organizations know exactly what kinds of integrations and modules they need.”

Thomas Randall
Research Director, Info-Tech Research Group

Sugar Professional Sugar Serve Sugar Sell Sugar Enterprise Sugar Market
  • Starts at $52*
  • Per user/mo
  • Min. 3 users
  • Small businesses
  • Starts at $80*
  • Per user/mo
  • Min. 3 users
  • Focused on customer service
  • Starts at $80*
  • Per user/mo
  • Min. 3 users
  • Focused on sales automation
  • Starts at $80*
  • Per user/mo
  • Min. 3 users
  • On-premises, mid-sized businesses
  • Starts at $1000*
  • Priced per month
  • Min. 10k contacts
  • Large enterprise
Logo for .


Est. 2006 | MA, USA | HUBS (NYSE)

bio

Link for their Twitter account.Link for their LinkedIn profile.Link for their website.
Develops software for inbound customer service, marketing, and sales. Software includes CRM, SMM, lead gen, SEO, and web analytics.

SoftwareReviews’ Enterprise CRM Rankings

Strengths:

  • Breadth of features
  • Product strategy and rate of improvement
  • Ease of customization

Areas to Improve:

  • Ease of data integration
  • Customer service management
  • Telephony and call center management
Logo gif for SoftwareReviews.
8.3
COMPOSITE SCORE
8.4
CX SCORE
+84
EMOTIONAL FOOTPRINT
86%
LIKELINESS TO RECOMMEND
DOWNLOAD REPORT 97
REVIEWS
Vendor scores are driven by real-world practitioner reviews via SoftwareReviews. Composite, CX, EF and NPS scores pulled from live data as of June 2022. Rankings and ”strengths” and ”areas to improve” pulled from January 2022 Category Report.
Sample of a HubSpot screen.Vendor Pulse rating. How often do we hear about HubSpot from our members for CRM? 'Frequently'.

History of HubSpot in a vertical timeline.

*Pricing correct as of August 2021. Listed in USD and absent discounts
See pricing on vendor’s website for latest information.
Logo for HubSpot.

“ HubSpot is best suited for small to mid-sized organizations that need a range of CRM tools to enable growth across sales, marketing campaigns, and customer service. Indeed, HubSpot offers a content management solution that offers a central storage location for all customer and marketing data. Moreover, HubSpot offers plenty of freemium tools for users to familiarize themselves with the software before buying. However, though HubSpot is geared toward growing businesses, smaller organizations may not see high ROI until they begin to scale. The “Starter” and “Professional” plans’ pricing is often cited by small organizations as a barrier to commitment, and the freemium tools are not a sustainable solution. If organizations can take advantage of discount behaviors from HubSpot (e.g. a startup discount), HubSpot will be a viable long-term solution. ”

Thomas Randall
Research Director, Info-Tech Research Group

Starter Professional Enterprise
  • Starts at $50*
  • Per month
  • Min. 2 users
  • Small businesses
  • Starts at $500*
  • Per month
  • Min. 5 users
  • Small/mid-sized businesses
  • Starts at $1200*
  • Billed yearly
  • Min. 10 users
  • Mid-sized/small enterprise
Logo for Zoho.


Est. 1996 | India | Private

bio

Link for their Twitter account.Link for their LinkedIn profile.Link for their website.
Zoho Corporation offers a cloud software suite, providing a full operating system for CRM, alongside apps for finance, productivity, HR, legal, and more.

SoftwareReviews’ Enterprise CRM Rankings

Strengths:

  • Business value created
  • Breadth of features
  • Collaboration capabilities

Areas to Improve:

  • Usability and intuitiveness
Logo gif for SoftwareReviews.
8.7
COMPOSITE SCORE
8.9
CX SCORE
+92
EMOTIONAL FOOTPRINT
85%
LIKELINESS TO RECOMMEND
DOWNLOAD REPORT 152
REVIEWS
Vendor scores are driven by real-world practitioner reviews via SoftwareReviews. Composite, CX, EF and NPS scores pulled from live data as of June 2022. Rankings and ”strengths” and ”areas to improve” pulled from January 2022 Category Report.
Sample of a Zoho screen.Vendor Pulse rating. How often do we hear about Zoho from our members for CRM? 'Occasionally'.

History of Zoho in a vertical timeline.

*
See pricing on vendor’s website for latest information.
Logo for Zoho.

“Zoho has a long list of software solutions for businesses to run end to end. As one of Zoho’s earliest software releases, though, ZohoCRM remains a flagship product. ZohoCRM’s pricing is incredibly competitive for mid/large enterprises, offering high business value for its robust feature sets. For those organizations that already utilize Zoho solutions (such as its productivity suite), ZohoCRM will be a natural extension.

However, small/mid-sized businesses may wonder how much ROI they can get from ZohoCRM, when much of the functionality expected from a CRM (such as workflow automation) cannot be found until one jumps to the “Enterprise” plan. Given the “Enterprise” plan’s pricing is on par with other CRM vendors, there may not be much in a smaller organization’s eyes that truly distinguishes ZohoCRM unless they are already invested Zoho users.”

Thomas Randall
Research Director, Info-Tech Research Group

Standard Professional Enterprise Ultimate
  • Starts at $20*
  • Per user/mo
  • Small businesses after basic functionality
  • Starts at $35*
  • Per user/mo
  • Small/mid-sized businesses
  • Adds inventory management
  • Starts at $50*
  • Per user/mo
  • Mid-sized/small enterprise
  • Adds Zia AI
  • Starts at $65*
  • Per user/mo
  • Enterprise
  • Bundles Zoho Analytics
Logo for Zendesk.


Est. 2009 | CA, USA | ZEN (NYSE)

bio

Link for their Twitter account.Link for their LinkedIn profile.Link for their website.
Software developer for customer service. Founded in Copenhagen but moved to San Francisco after $6 million Series B funding from Charles River Ventures and Benchmark Capital.

SoftwareReviews’ Enterprise CRM Rankings

Strengths:

  • Quality of features
  • Breadth of features
  • Vendor support

Areas to Improve:

  • Business value created
  • Ease of customization
  • Usability and intuitiveness
Logo gif for SoftwareReviews.
7.8
COMPOSITE SCORE
7.9
CX SCORE
+80
EMOTIONAL FOOTPRINT
72%
LIKELINESS TO RECOMMEND
DOWNLOAD REPORT 50
REVIEWS
Vendor scores are driven by real-world practitioner reviews via SoftwareReviews. Composite, CX, EF and NPS scores pulled from live data as of June 2022. Rankings and ”strengths” and ”areas to improve” pulled from January 2022 Category Report.
Sample of a Zendesk screen.Vendor Pulse rating. How often do we hear about Zendesk from our members for CRM? 'Rarely'.

History of Zendesk in a vertical timeline.

*Pricing correct as of August 2021. Listed in USD and absent discounts
See pricing on vendor’s website for latest information.
Logo for Zendesk.

“Zendesk’s initial growth was grounded in word-of-mouth advertising, owing to the popularity of its help desk solution’s design and functionality. Zendesk Sell has followed suit, receiving strong feedback for the breadth and quality of its features. Organizations that have already reaped the benefits of Zendesk’s customer service suite will find Zendesk Sell a straightforward fit for their sales teams.

However, it is important to note that Zendesk Sell is predominantly focused on sales. Other key components of a CRM, such as marketing, are less fleshed out. Organizations should ensure they verify what requirements they have for a CRM before choosing Zendesk Sell – if sales process requirements (such as forecasting, call analytics, and so on) are but one part of what the organization needs, Zendesk Sell may not offer the highest ROI for the pricing offered.”

Thomas Randall
Research Director, Info-Tech Research Group

Sell Team Sell Professional Sell Enterprise
  • Starts at $19*
  • Per user/mo
  • Max. 3 users
  • Small businesses
  • Basic functionality
  • Starts at $49*
  • Per user/mo
  • Small/mid-sized businesses
  • Advanced analytics
  • Starts at $99*
  • Per user/mo
  • Mid-sized/small enterprise
  • Task automation

Speak with category experts to dive deeper into the vendor landscape

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We collect and analyze the most detailed reviews on enterprise software from real users to give you an unprecedented view into the product and vendor before you buy.

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User-experience insight that reveals the intangibles of working with a vendor.

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Conduct a day of rapid-fire vendor demos

Zoom in on high-value use cases and answers to targeted questions

Make sure the solution will work for your business

Give each vendor 90 to 120 minutes to give a rapid-fire presentation. We suggest the following structure:

  • 30 minutes: company introduction and vision
  • 60 minutes: walk-through of two or three high-value demo scenarios
  • 30 minutes: targeted Q&A from the business stakeholders and procurement team
To ensure a consistent evaluation, vendors should be asked analogous questions, and a tabulation of answers should be conducted.
How to challenge the vendors in the investigative interview
  • Change the visualization/presentation.
  • Change the underlying data.
  • Add additional data sets to the artifacts.
  • Collaboration capabilities.
  • Perform an investigation in terms of finding BI objects and identifying previous changes, and examine the audit trail.
Rapid-fire vendor investigative interview

Invite vendors to come onsite (or join you via video conference) to demonstrate the product and to answer questions. Use a highly targeted demo script to help identify how a vendor’s solution will fit your organization’s particular business capability needs.

Graphic of an alarm clock.
To kick-start scripting your demo scenarios, leverage our CRM Demo Script Template.

A vendor scoring model provides a clear anchor point for your evaluation of CRM vendors based on a variety of inputs

A vendor scoring model is a systematic method for effectively assessing competing vendors. A weighted-average scoring model is an approach that strikes a strong balance between rigor and evaluation speed.

Info-Tech Insight

Even the best scoring model will still involve some “art” rather than science – scoring categories such as vendor viability always entails a degree of subjective interpretation.

How do I build a scoring model?

  • Start by shortlisting the key criteria you will use to evaluate your vendors. Functional capabilities should always be a critical category, but you’ll also want to look at criteria such as affordability, architectural fit, and vendor viability.
  • Depending on the complexity of the project, you may break down some criteria into sub-categories to assist with evaluation (for example, breaking down functional capabilities into constituent use cases so you can score each one).
  • Once you’ve developed the key criteria for your project, the next step is weighting each criterion. Your weightings should reflect the priorities for the project at hand. For example, some projects may put more emphasis on affordability, others on vendor partnership.
  • Using the information collected in the subsequent phases of this blueprint, score each criterion from 1-100, then multiply by the weighting factor. Add up the weighted scores to arrive at the aggregate evaluation score for each vendor on your shortlist.

What are some of the best practices?

  • While the criteria for each project may vary, it’s helpful to have an inventory of repeatable criteria that can be used across application selection projects. The next slide contains an example that you can add or subtract from.
  • Don’t go overboard on the number of criteria: five to 10 weighted criteria should be the norm for most projects. The more criteria (and sub-criteria) you must score against, the longer it will take to conduct your evaluation. Always remember, link the level of rigor to the size and complexity of your project! It’s possible to create a convoluted scoring model that takes significant time to fill out but yields little additional value.
  • Creation of the scoring model should be a consensus-driven activity among IT, procurement, and the key business stakeholders – it should not be built in isolation. Everyone should agree on the fundamental criteria and weights that are employed.
  • Consider using not just the outputs of investigative interviews and RFP responses to score vendors, but also third-party review services like SoftwareReviews.

Define how you’ll score CRM proposals and demos

Define key CRM selection criteria for your organization – this should be informed by the following goals, use cases, and requirements covered in the blueprint.

Criteria

Description

Functional CapabilitiesHow well does the vendor align with the top-priority functional requirements identified in your accelerated needs assessment? What is the vendor’s functional breadth and depth?
AffordabilityHow affordable is this vendor? Consider a three-to-five-year total cost of ownership (TCO) that encompasses not just licensing costs, but also implementation, integration, training, and ongoing support costs.
Architectural FitHow well does this vendor align with our direction from an enterprise architecture perspective? How interoperable is the solution with existing applications in our technology stack? Does the solution meet our deployment model preferences?
ExtensibilityHow easy is it to augment the base solution with native or third-party add-ons as our business needs may evolve?
ScalabilityHow easy is it to expand the solution to support increased user, data, and/or customer volumes? Are there any capacity constraints of the solution?
Vendor ViabilityHow viable is this vendor? Are they an established player with a proven track record, or a new and untested entrant to the market? What is the financial health of the vendor? How committed are they to the particular solution category?
Vendor VisionDoes the vendor have a cogent and realistic product roadmap? Are they making sensible investments that align with your organization’s internal direction?
Emotional FootprintHow well does the vendor’s organizational culture and team dynamics align to yours?
Third-Party Assessments and/or ReferencesHow well-received is the vendor by unbiased, third-party sources like SoftwareReviews? For larger projects, how well does the vendor perform in reference checks (and how closely do those references mirror your own situation)?

Decision Point: Select the Finalist

After reviewing all vendor responses to your RFP, conducting vendor demos, and running a pilot project (if applicable), the time has arrived to select your finalist.

All core selection team members should hold a session to score each shortlisted vendor against the criteria enumerated on the previous slide – based on an in-depth review of proposals, the demo sessions, and any pilots or technical assessments.

The vendor that scores the highest in aggregate is your finalist.

Congratulations – you are now ready to proceed to final negotiation and inking a contract. This blueprint provides a detailed approach on the mechanics of a major vendor negotiation.

Leverage Info-Tech’s research to plan and execute your CRM implementation

Use Info-Tech Research Group’s three phase implementation process to guide your own planning.
The three phases of software implementation: 'Assess', 'Prepare', 'Govern & Course Correct'. Sample of the 'Governance and Management of Enterprise Software Implementation' blueprint.

Establish and execute an end-to-end, agile framework to succeed with the implementation of a major enterprise application.

Visit this link

Prepare for implementation: establish a clear resourcing plan

Organizations rarely have sufficient internal staffing to resource a CRM project on their own. Consider the options for closing the gap in internal resource availability.

The most common project resourcing structures for enterprise projects are:
Your own staff +
  1. Management consultant
  2. Vendor consultant
  3. System integrator
Info-Tech Insight

When contemplating a resourcing structure, consider:

  • Availability of in-house implementation competencies and resources.
  • Timeline and constraints.
  • Integration environment complexity.

Consider the following:

Internal vs. External Roles and Responsibilities

Clearly delineate between internal and external team responsibilities and accountabilities, and communicate this to your technology partner up front.

Internal vs. External Accountabilities

Accountability is different than responsibility. Your vendor or SI partner may be responsible for completing certain tasks, but be careful not to outsource accountability for the implementation – ultimately, the internal team will be accountable.

Partner Implementation Methodologies

Often vendors and/or SIs will have their own preferred implementation methodology. Consider the use of your partner's implementation methodology; however, you know what will work for your organization.

Establish team composition

1 – 2 hours

Input: Skills assessment, Stakeholder analysis, Vendor partner selection

Output: Team composition

Materials: Sticky notes, Whiteboard, Markers

Participants: Project team

Use Info-Tech’s Governance and Management of Enterprise Software Implementation to establish your team composition. Within that blueprint:

  1. Assess the skills necessary for an implementation. Inventory the competencies required for the implementation project team. Map your internal resources to each competency as applicable.
  2. Select your internal implementation team. Determine who needs to be involved closely with the implementation. Key stakeholders should also be considered as members of your implementation team.
  3. Identify the number of external consultants/support required for implementation. Consider your in-house skills, timeline considerations, integration environment complexity, and cost constraints as you make your team composition plan. Be sure to dedicate an internal resource to managing the vendor and partner relationships.
  4. Document the roles and responsibilities, accountabilities, and other expectations of your team as they relate to each step of the implementation.

Governance and Management of Enterprise Software Implementation

Sample of the 'Governance and Management of Enterprise Software Implementation' blueprint.Follow our iterative methodology with a task list focused on the business must-have functionality to achieve rapid execution and to allow staff to return to their daily work sooner.

Visit this link

Ensure your implementation team has a high degree of trust and communication

If external partners are needed, dedicate an internal resource to managing the vendor and partner relationships.

Communication

Teams must have some type of communication strategy. This can be broken into:
  • Regularity: Having a set time each day to communicate progress and a set day to conduct retrospectives.
  • Ceremonies: Injecting awards and continually emphasizing delivery of value can encourage relationship-building and constructive motivation.
  • Escalation: Voicing any concerns and having someone responsible for addressing those concerns.

Proximity

Distributed teams create complexity as communication can break down. This can be mitigated by:
  • Location: Placing teams in proximity can close the barrier of geographical distance and time zone differences.
  • Inclusion: Making a deliberate attempt to pull remote team members into discussions and ceremonies.
  • Communication tools: Having the right technology (e.g. video conference) can help bring teams closer together virtually.

Trust

Members should trust other members are contributing to the project and completing their required tasks on time. Trust can be developed and maintained by:
  • Accountability: Having frequent quality reviews and feedback sessions. As work becomes more transparent, people become more accountable.
  • Role clarity: Having a clear definition of what everyone’s role is.

Plan for your implementation of CRM based on deployment model

Place your CRM application into your IT landscape by configuring and adjusting the tool based on your specific deployment method.

Icon of a housing development.
On-Premises

  1. Identify custom features and configuration items
  2. Train developers and IT staff on new software investment
  3. Install software
  4. Configure software
  5. Test installation and configuration
  6. Test functionality

Icon of a cloud upload.
SaaS-based

  1. Train developers and IT staff on new software investment
  2. Set up connectivity
  3. Identify VPN or internal solution
  4. Check firewalls
  5. Validate bandwidth regulations

Integration is a top IT challenge and critical to the success of the CRM suite

CRM suites are most effective when they are integrated with ERP and MarTech solutions.

Data interchange between the CRM solution and other data sources is necessary

Formulate a comprehensive map of the systems, hardware, and software with which the CRM solution must be able to integrate. Customer data needs to constantly be synchronized: without this, you lose out on one of the primary benefits of CRM. These connections must be bidirectional for maximum value (i.e. marketing data to the CRM, customer data to MMS).
Specialized projects that include an intricate prospect or customer list and complex rules may need to be built by IT The more custom fields you have in your CRM suite and point solutions, the more schema mapping you will have to do. Include this information in the RFP to receive guidance from vendors on the ease with which integration can be achieved.

Pay attention to legacy apps and databases

If you have legacy CRM, POS, or customer contact software, more custom code will be required. Many vendors claim that custom integration can be performed for most systems, but custom comes at a cost. Don’t just ask if they can integrate; ask how long it will take and for references from organizations which have been successful in this.
When assessing the current application portfolio that supports CRM, the tendency will be to focus on the applications under the CRM umbrella, relating mostly to marketing, sales, and customer service. Be sure to include systems that act as inputs to, or benefit due to outputs from, the CRM or similar applications.

CRM data flow

Example of a CRM data flow.

Be sure to include enterprise applications that are not included in the CRM application portfolio. Popular systems to consider for POIs include billing, directory services, content management, and collaboration tools.

Sample CRM integration map

Sample of a CRM integration map.

Scenario: Failure to address CRM data integration will cost you in the long run

A company spent $15 million implementing a new CRM system in the cloud and decided NOT to spend an additional $1.5 million to do a proper cloud DI tool procurement. The mounting costs followed.

Cost Element – Custom Data Integration

$

2 FTEs for double entry of sales order data $ 100,000/year
One-time migration of product data to CRM $ 240,000 otc
Product data maintenance $ 60,000/year
Customer data synchronization interface build $ 60,000 otc
Customer data interface maintenance $ 10,000/year
Data quality issues $ 100,000/year
New SaaS integration built in year 3 $ 300,000 otc
New SaaS integration maintenance $ 150,000/year

Cost Element – Data Integration Tool

$

DI strategy and platform implementation $1,500,000 otc
DI tool maintenance $ 15,000/year
New SaaS integration point in year 3 $ 300,000 otc
Thumbs down color coded red to the adjacent chart. Custom integration is costing this organization $300,000/year for one SaaS solution.
Thumbs up color coded blue to the adjacent chart.

The proposed integration solution would have paid for itself in 3-4 years and saved exponential costs in the long run.

Proactively address data quality in the CRM during implementation

Data quality is a make-or-break issue in a CRM platform; garbage in is garbage out.
  • CRM suites are one of the leading offenders for generating poor-quality data. As such, it’s important to have a plan in place for structuring your data architecture in such a way the poor data quality is minimized from the get-go.
  • Having a plan for data quality should precede data migration efforts; some types of poor data quality can be mitigated prior to migration.
  • There are five main types of poor-quality data found in CRM platforms.
    • Duplicate data: Duplicate records can be a major issue. Leverage dedicated deduplication tools to eliminate them.
    • Stale data: Out-of-date customer information can reduce the usefulness of the platform. Use automated social listening tools to help keep data fresh.
    • Incomplete data: Records with missing info limit platform value. Specify data validation parameters to mandate that all fields are filled in.
    • Invalid and conflicting data: These can create cascading errors. Establishing conflict resolution rules in ETL tools for data integration can lessen issues.
Info-Tech Insight

If you have a complex POI environment, appoint data stewards for each major domain and procure a deduplication tool. As the complexity of CRM system-to-system integrations increases, so will the chance that data quality errors will crop up – for example, bidirectional POI with other sources of customer information dramatically increase the chances of conflicting/duplicate data.

Profile data, eliminate dead weight, and enforce standards to protect data

Identify and eliminate dead weight

Poor data can originate in the firm’s CRM system. Custom queries, stored procedures, or profiling tools can be used to assess the key problem areas.

Loose rules in the CRM system may lead to records of no significant value in the database. Those rules need to be fixed, but if changes are made before the data is fixed, users could encounter database or application errors, which will reduce user confidence in the system.

  • Conduct a data flow analysis: map the path that data takes through the organization.
  • Use a mass cleanup to identify and destroy dead weight data. Merge duplicates either manually or with the aid of software tools. Delete incomplete data, taking care to reassign related data.
  • COTS packages typically allow power users to merge records without creating orphaned records in related tables, but custom-built applications typically require IT expertise.

Create and enforce standards and policies

Now that the data has been cleaned, it’s important to protect the system from relapsing.

Work with business users to find out what types of data require validation and which fields should have changes audited. Whenever possible, implement drop-down lists to standardize values and make programming changes to ensure that truncation ceases.

  • Truncated data is usually caused by mismatches in data structures during either one-time data loads or ongoing data integrations.
  • Don’t go overboard on assigning required fields; users will just put key data in note fields.
  • Discourage the use of unstructured note fields: the data is effectively lost except if it gets subpoenaed.
Info-Tech Insight

Data quality concerns proliferate with the customization level of your platform. The more extensive the custom integration points and module/database extensions that you have made, the more you will need to have a plan in place for managing data quality from a reactive and proactive standpoint.

Create a formal communication process throughout the CRM implementation

Establish a comprehensive communication process around the CRM enterprise roll-out to ensure that end users stay informed.

The CRM kick-off meeting(s) should encompass: 'The high-level application overview', 'Target business-user requirements', 'Target quality of service (QoS) metrics', 'Other IT department needs', 'Tangible business benefits of application', 'Special consideration needs'. The overall objective for interdepartmental CRM kick-off meetings is to confirm that all parties agree on certain key points and understand platform rationale and functionality.

The kick-off process will significantly improve internal communications by inviting all affected internal IT groups, including business units, to work together to address significant issues before the application process is formally activated.

Department groups or designated trainers should take the lead and implement a process for:

  • Scheduling CRM platform roll-out/kick-off meetings.
  • Soliciting preliminary input from the attending groups to develop further training plans.
  • Establishing communication paths and the key communication agents from each department who are responsible for keeping lines open moving forward.

Ensure requirements are met with robust user acceptance testing

User acceptance testing (UAT) is a test procedure that helps to ensure end-user requirements are met. Test cases can reveal bugs before the suite is implemented.

Five Secrets of UAT Success

Bracket with colors corresponding the adjacent list items.

1

Create the plan With the information collected from requirements gathering, create the plan. Make sure this information is added to the main project plan documentation.

2

Set the agenda The time allotted will vary depending on the functionality being tested. Ensure that the test schedule allows for the resolution of issues and discussion.

3

Determine who will participate Work with the relevant stakeholders to identify the people who can best contribute to system testing. Look for experienced power users who have been involved in earlier decision making about the system.

4

Highlight acceptance criteria Together with the UAT group, pinpoint the criteria to determine system acceptability. Refer back to requirements specified in use cases in the initial requirements-gathering stages of the project.

5

Collect end user feedback Weaknesses in resolution workflow design, technical architecture, and existing customer service processes can be highlighted and improved on with ongoing surveys and targeted interviews.

Calculate post-deployment metrics to assess measurable value of the project

Track the post-deployment results from the project and compare the metrics to the current state and target state.

CRM Selection and Implementation Metrics
Description Formula Current or Estimated Target Post-Deployment
End-User Satisfaction # of Satisfied Users
# of End Users
70% 90% 85%
Percentage Over/Under Estimated Budget Amount Spent - 100%
Budget
5% 0% 2%
Percentage Over/Under Estimated Timeline Project Length - 100%
Estimated Timeline
10% -5% -10%

CRM Strategy Metrics
Description Formula Current or Estimated Target Post-Deployment
Number of Leads Generated (per month) # of Leads Generated 150 200 250
Average Time to Resolution (in minutes) Time Spent on Resolution
# of Resolutions
30 minutes 10 minutes 15 minutes
Cost per Interaction by Campaign Total Campaign Spending
# of Customer Interactions
$17.00 $12.00 $12.00

Select the Right CRM Platform

CRM technology is critical to facilitate an organization’s relationships with customers, service users, employees, and suppliers. Having a structured approach to building a business case, defining key requirements, and engaging with the right shortlist of vendors to pick the best finalist is crucial.

This selection guide allows organizations to execute a structured methodology for picking a CRM that aligns with their needs. This includes:
  • Alignment and prioritization of key business and technology drivers for a CRM selection business case.
  • Identification of key use cases and requirements for CRM.
  • Construction of a robust CRM RFP.
  • A strong market scan of key players.
  • A survey of crucial implementation considerations.
This formal CRM selection initiative will drive business-IT alignment, identify sales and marketing automation priorities, and allow for the rollout of a platform that’s highly likely to satisfy all stakeholder needs.

If you would like additional support, have our analysts guide you through other phases as part of an Info-Tech workshop.

Contact your account representative for more information.
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Insight summary

Stakeholder satisfaction is critical to your success

Choosing a solution for a single use case and then expanding it to cover other purposes can be a way to quickly gain approvals and then make effective use of dollars spent. However, this can also be a nightmare if the product is not fit for purpose and requires significant customization effort for future use cases. Identify use cases early, engage stakeholders to define success, and recognize where you need to find balance between a single off-the-shelf CRM platform and adjacent MarTech or sales enablement systems.

Build a business case

An effective business case isn’t a single-purpose document for obtaining funding. It can also be used to drive your approach to product selection, requirements gathering, and ultimately evaluating stakeholder and user satisfaction.

Use your business case to define use cases and milestones as well as success.

Balance process with technology

A new solution with old processes will result in incremental increased value. Evaluate existing processes and identify opportunities to improve and remove workarounds. Then define requirements.

You may find that the tools you have would be adequate with an upgrade and tool optimization. If not, this exercise will prepare you to select the right solution for your current and future needs.

Drive toward early value

Lead with the most important benefit and consider the timeline. Most stakeholders will lose interest if they don’t realize benefits within the fist year. Can you reach your goal and report success within that timeline?

Identify secondary, incremental customer engagement improvements that can be made as you work toward the overall goal to be achieved at the one-year milestone.

Related Info-Tech Research

Stock image of an office worker. Build a Strong Technology Foundation for Customer Experience Management
  • Any CRM project needs to be guided by the broader strategy around customer engagement. This blueprint explores how to create a strong technology enablement approach for CXM using voice of the customer analysis.
Stock image of a target with arrows. Improve Requirements Gathering
  • 70% of projects that fail do so because of poor requirements. If you need to double-click on best practices for eliciting, analyzing, and validating requirements as you build up your CRM picklist and RFP, this blueprint will equip you with the knowledge and tools you need to hit the ground running.
Stock image of a pen on paper. Drive Successful Sourcing Outcomes with a Robust RFP Process
  • Managing a complex RFP process for an enterprise application like a CRM platform can be a challenging undertaking. This blueprint zooms into how to build, run, administer, and evaluate RFP responses effectively.

Bibliography

“Doomed From the Start? Why a Majority of Business and IT Teams Anticipate Their Software Development Projects Will Fail.” Geneca, 25 Jan. 2017. Web.

Hall, Kerrie. “The State of CRM Data Management 2020.” Validity. 27 April 2020. Web.

Hinchcliffe, Dion. “The Evolving Role of the CIO and CMO in Customer Experience.” ZDNet, 22 Jan. 2020. Web.

Klie, L. “CRM Still Faces Challenges, Most Speakers Agree: CRM Systems Have Been Around for Decades, but Interoperability and Data Siloes Still Have to Be Overcome.” CRM Magazine, vol. 23, no. 5, 2019, pp. 13-14.

Markman, Jon. "Netflix Knows What You Want... Before You Do." Forbes. 9 Jun. 2017. Web.

Morgan, Blake. “50 Stats That Prove The Value Of Customer Experience.” Forbes, 24 Sept. 2019. Web.

Taber, David. “What to Do When Your CRM Project Fails.” CIO Magazine, 18 Sept. 2017. Web.

“The State of Project Management Annual Survey 2018.” Wellingtone, 2018. Web.

“The History of Microsoft Dynamics.” Eswelt. 2021. Accessed 8 June 2022.

“Unlock the Mysteries of Your Customer Relationships.” Harvard Business Review. 1 July 2014. Accessed 30 Mar. 2016.

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Guided Implementation #1 - Understand CRM
  • Call #1 - Understand what a CRM platform is and the “art of the possible” for sales, marketing, and customer service.

Guided Implementation #2 - Build the business case and elicit CRM requirements
  • Call #1 - Build the business case to select a CRM.
  • Call #2 - Define your key CRM requirements.
  • Call #3 - Build procurement items such as an RFP.

Guided Implementation #3 - Discover the CRM market space and prepare for implementation
  • Call #1 - Evaluate the CRM solution landscape and shortlist viable options.
  • Call #2 - Review implementation considerations.

Author

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