You have decided to dedicate attention to building your marketing and increasing the customer base. One of the tools needed in many cases to accomplish those goals is a CRM system, a Contact Relationship Manager or as I like to say, a Contact Relationship Modeler. As you begin your search for the CRM you find thousands of choices from Saas, to On-premise and hybrids. Making a choice from this plethora of choices can be next to impossible. You need a CRM Partner.
What type of partner do you choose? One with many years of experience or one that seems to show up everywhere? How do you choose? I am writing this article as a CRM systems consultant and VAR (Value Added Re-seller) with a number of products. For those that don’t know, a VAR is NOT JUST A RE-SELLER, a real VAR provides installation, training and customization service for the products they are declared a reseller for. If those VAR’s you choose to speak with do not begin with Needs Analysis and end the conversation with training and customization, I would suggest passing by them.
Here are a few key items to consider and address with the VAR candidates:
- Years in the business?
We would suggest 10+ years which will provide the providers with enough experience and product line exposure to solve issues.
Make sure the organization has 5-10 years experience with the product line(s) you may have already identified or reasons why you should not consider those products.
- Number of products represented?
– A one or two product company is really not a solution provider but an unpaid company sales person, he/she will likely try to re-mold your needs to work with that one or two products. Not good for your organization.
– You want a solutions provider that can listen for your needs and wants and then formulate a recommendation to you in a reasonably unbiased manner.
– In my experience those that can provide 2 or more real solutions typically understand the systems and can create a solution to your needs.
– Those who can clearly justify which products are NOT GOOD for your organization are a valued partner.
- Level of Authorization or where they rate among their reseller competitors
– In most sales channels for products there are multiple levels of authorization be careful how the levels are chosen.
– Being in the top 10% of the CRM products partners channel can mean a couple of things…make sure you know what meaning is and how it applies to your need.
—- “Top Reseller” meaning they moved a number of licenses and more than the other 90% of the resellers in the same channel.
—- “Top Training Center” for the CRM Product, this is key and likely the organization you want to choose.
- Can they provide examples of organized implementation steps and time estimates
– A quality CRM systems provider will be able to provide outlines of what the selection, implementation, installation and training will consist of.
– A quality CRM systems provider will clearly indicate what you DO GET and what is NOT INCLUDED. This is very important as it is a known statistic that a high percentage of CRM system implementations fail; and that is usually due to not having a full and agreed understanding on the DO GET and NOT INCLUDED items.
- Your selected reseller should be comfortable with demonstrating more than one system in a single session. The same presenter of both gives an added level of team confidence.
– Be aware if the presenter changes or
– The demonstration is done with a canned demo set.
– The most confident and experienced organizations can demonstrate using real data sets.
In summary, this world of CRM, Saas (Software as a Service aka. cloud hosted), on-premise (aka on your server) and the slew of other combinations can be challenging to figure out and navigate even for the most experienced in the industry. Don’t try to navigate the selection process alone. Use a consultant that understands the industry and continues to educate him/herself.
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