When it comes to choosing a grief-free CRM platform, there is often a problem-solution mismatch when businesses are evaluating vendors. There is a disproportionate amount of attention on flashier elements to the detriment of core fundamentals. It is easy to get swayed by marketing material full of glossy pictures and trendy buzzwords. But you need to slow down and ask yourself whether the platform has the long-term stability that your business needs to grow.
A CRM software is an investment that will directly impact the fortunes of your company for years to come. If it does not have the right fundamentals, building your business capabilities on it can lead to more problems than solutions down the line. The wrong choice can cost you dearly. A misfiring CRM system can cause major disruption to your business. If these problems eventually force you to migrate to another platform, then you will face additional unplanned costs that will severely hurt your bottom line even further.
It is in your interest to avoid a situation where you are stuck with a CRM “solution” which is anything but. Here we provide you with four must-ask questions you should consider during due diligence, to ensure that you are picking a grief-free CRM platform that will serve you well for a long time.
Is the CRM platform cloud-ready?
Whether or not your CRM platform is cloud-ready is by far the biggest differentiator when it comes to assessing how future proof it is. Innovations in the cloud service space have positively impacted the economics and ease of operating a CRM software. Cloud-friendly SaaS platforms are the future of CRM and any vendor trying to tell you otherwise is likely doing so to protect their revenue stream from a legacy database-centric model which is fast becoming obsolete. And while there is nothing wrong with opting for the legacy model, it must be said that the velocity for innovation and room for growth are both rather limited.
In contrast, there are obvious benefits to a cloud-centric CRM platform. Firstly, it scales faster and more efficiently compared to a legacy database infrastructure thanks to the meta-data multi-tenant model used by cloud SaaS vendors. The service model for such a CRM platform eliminates a large chunk of IT and maintenance costs, thus considerably lowering the total cost of ownership. Modification is quite agile, you don’t need any special tools to test customizations and configurations. And the best part is that cloud-ready CRM platforms can be updated quite simply with zero disruption. All these reasons mean that a free CRM platform is most certainly a cloud-ready one. It is much more future-proof.
Does the vendor have a comprehensive cloud-based application platform?
A cloud CRM platform is great, but not all are made equal. How well a cloud CRM platform works depends on the expertise your vendor brings to the table. A good way to gauge the vendor’s expertise is to observe whether the cloud-ready CRM software is a standalone offering, or if they have an established cloud platform with a diverse suite of services beyond the CRM space. The latter means that the vendor is a cloud-first service provider, rather than a legacy provider transitioning into the cloud. They have built their offerings on a resilient foundation of cloud-friendly technology.
A cloud-first provider simply sidesteps a majority of issues that plague legacy platforms trying to transition to the cloud. These issues include but are not limited to painful data migration procedures, limited product service lifecycles, platform splintering, and end-of-life obsolescence. Because these platforms were built from the ground up with the cloud in mind, they are more likely to provide an organic UX with minimum bugs and instabilities. Picking a vendor with a great cloud presence and an established suite of products lets you avoid a lot of grief by making sure you are investing in some solid underlying technology.
What is the vendor’s track record when it comes to upgrades and support?
A grief-free CRM platform will always be up to date with features and constant patches that keep things running smoothly. When picking a CRM platform, especially a modern cloud-based service, you must look for a vendor who is willing to support you for life. This means they will continue to provide a usable, updated platform that scales with your business without the interruption of re-platforming cycles. For the best experience, you should go for a CRM platform by a vendor with a great track record for maintaining the platform.
A great way to evaluate your vendor’s track record is to check their customers and how many have been on board long term. Good cloud-first vendors can provide their customers with a stable platform, and thus have strong rates of renewal. So if a vendor is retaining a large pool of serious customers, it means that their CRM platform receives frequent updates and healthy support.
Does the CRM platform have a robust product roadmap?
When you are choosing a CRM platform you would ideally want to invest in a product that consistently improves in functionality and value. But that won’t happen unless the developers have a clear picture of how they are going to improve the platform. The best evidence of planning is to investigate whether the CRM platform has a roadmap in place. A proper product roadmap documents past and future updates with a well-defined timeline. It should clearly announce upcoming features and be updated regularly. On the contrary, a vague roadmap with large empty chunks and missed deadlines are red flags that reflect poorly on the vendor’s reliability.
For a grief-free experience, you should pick a CRM platform from a vendor with a plan for their product and the resources to commit to it. That way you know that the platform will potentially age well with minimum growth pains and be a viable long-term asset for your business.
A grief-free CRM platform is one that works as expected consistently and doesn’t bother you unexpectedly. Even if you find platforms that have the features you need, it pays dividends to perform due diligence and make sure the fundamentals are in place. The stability and financial health of your business will hinge on the choice. These few questions have hopefully steered you in the right direction and give you an idea about what to look out for.