When looking for a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, it is best to have multiple decision makers dedicated to the evaluation. A president, VP of Sales, Marketing Manager, etc. are all excellent candidates for such roles. It can take a few months, even a few years to decide. Either way, once you have the decision makers determined, you can start the project. Here is what a typical timeline would look like on an average CRM evaluation. Please note this is assuming multiple decision makers spending multiple hours each week on the project. The timeline could vary greatly based on the business of individuals, the communication between them, and their willingness to work on the evaluation in general.
Weeks One-Two: Evaluate current sales, marketing, and customer service processes looking to improve areas that need it and document current processes as well as a budget.
It is always best to look internally before you go about looking for CRM solutions. This is where you involve the eventual users in the process. Learn from all departments (sales, marketing, customer service), about the current company processes. Learn what the strengths are that the CRM needs to accommodate and compliment. Learn what areas the CRM needs to help improve, unless you can improve on it internally first, which generally is a better idea.
Weeks Two-Four: Conduct a thorough search to make a top five list of CRM vendors that fit your price point and requirements.
There are many hundred CRM vendors out there. It can be quite a time-consuming process to weed through them all, but a good place to start is price. Companies regularly list their pricing online so based on your needs, find the right plan that works for you and any company that is too high, eliminate immediately. Prices only go up from those numbers, never down. Once needs and pricing are reviewed, pin it down to a top five list.
Weeks Four-Six: Do overview members involving all decision makers and at least one representative from each department.
With the top five selected, get the decision makers and power users together to view overview demos. Go in depth with questions and learning the overall functionality of the CRM as well as the vendors support and help for implementation. All departments should be represented so that no one is left out and all questions can be answered.
Weeks Six-Eight: Narrow the list down to the top two vendors. Do more in-depth demos with demo data. Make final decision based on what best fits the company.
Work together as a team to take the list down to a top two. From there, view detailed demos with data from your company so you can see how you would use it daily. Get pricing down to the dollar and from there, get together to discuss and make a final decision. From there, get ready to pay and begin implementing your new CRM.