What Should I Look for in a CRM?

There are hundreds (thousands?) of CRM's out there to choose from. It can be quite overwhelming for someone who knows they need a CRM, but doesn't know where to start.

First things first: What is a CRM?

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. That is just a fancy term for the database you use to keep track of your customers. Usually it is software that runs on your computer or runs in the cloud.

Why do I need a CRM?

A CRM will help you keep track of things. It helps you manage your prospective customers, your current customers, and it helps you follow-up with your past customers.

A CRM is a single place to keep all things about your customers. And if you get a CRM that's in the cloud, you won't have to worry about losing your data because your computer crashed, or because someone stole your laptop!

In a CRM, look for this…

1. Number one, top of the list, most important: It has to be a CRM that makes sense to you and one you will use. It's not enough just to HAVE a CRM, you really have to actually USE it - everyday. If you look at the CRM and "you don't get it", keep looking.

2. Look for a CRM that is easy to use. Now every single CRM company is going to say: "Our system is easy to use", so you can't go by that. It has to be easy for YOU. Sure, some systems are easy for software engineers, but you have to find one for you.

Here are some clues to look for when trying to find an easy system: If you need a consultant to set it up, or there are set up fees, or you need training to use it, or there is a User Manual that you need to study...then that is NOT an easy system - keep looking.

3. All CRM's basically do the same thing. So you don't need to get a big long feature list, and sit down and compare feature for feature. In fact, if you are just starting out, ignore the feature list. The CRM you are looking at will have everything you need and more.

The exception here is if you will be needing Marketing Automation. Most CRM's do not offer Marketing Automation. So if you need this, either now or you may in the future, find a system that has it.

4. Select a system that you can pay month to month. If they require that you sign up for a year...don't fall for that. A month to month arrangement allows you to check out the system and make sure it works for you. If you start using a system and it doesn't feel right to you, cancel your subscription and try something else.

5. One last thing. Don't hire a consultant, or use an online service to help you find the CRM that is right for you. It doesn't matter if the person helping you likes this product, or that product. They will not be using it - you will.

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