17 Key CRM Questions to Ask During Software Evaluation

17 Key CRM Questions to Ask When During Software Evaluation

Evaluating new sales and marketing software for your organization can be a painstaking task, often involving lots of research. There a wide variety of available customer relationship management (CRM) tools out there to help companies with these challenges. However, the sheer number of providers, software packages and pricing options can be dizzying. No two products are exactly alike, and it’s easy to get lost in a sea of feature descriptions and marketing jargon.

With this in mind, Solutions Review has developed a collection of buyer’s guides and best practices to assist you in your search. However, sometimes you just need a nudge in the right direction, and we’re here to help. That’s why our editors have compiled this list of 17 key CRM questions that your organization should consider during the vendor selection process.

1. Do you have a visible, organization-wide location for storing and accessing leads and accounts?

A portion of CRM is specifically made to handle large amounts of contact information and data. When evaluating the best tool for your organization, consider the resources that you already have and consistently use. If you’re lacking this kind of functionality, CRM will be a good investment. Otherwise, it might be better to find more modular tools.

2. Is there cross-team visibility into information for each contact or deal including notes, telephone calls, and scheduled tasks?

Having a central location for all your customer contact information is vital, but it’s just as important for multiple teams to access that data and any other related information. Sales, marketing, and customer service teams all revolve around the customer; these teams need to be able to talk to each other and share resources.  

3. Do you have disparate systems to manage the sales process, including different systems used by different reps?

The majority of CRM software will greatly benefit any and all sales teams. Organizations that need strong pipeline visualization and management should consider sales and marketing automation, particularly a sales-centric option. If your team already has a streamlined sales workflow, you should look for a CRM to address any of your other business needs.

4. How do you receive reminders to follow-up with sales contacts?

Some tools, particularly sales-focused solutions, send prompts and reminders to your employees based on personalized triggers or events. They will let you know of opportune times to contact leads, or ping you when an important sales opportunity presents itself. Make sure to pick a CRM that encourages both productivity and proactivity.

5. Is it easy for reps to view prioritized leads based on criteria, or to quickly see a view of all new leads?

Lead segmentation is a crucial feature for teams that want to easily identify key sales opportunities and potentially fruitful leads. Certain solutions will automatically rank customers based on their interactions with your organization, or will provide predictions of their future preferences.

6. If one of the sales reps left tomorrow, would you be able to easily access the sales contacts, deals, and deal history they were working on?

Thinking more logistically, consider what would happen if one of your sales reps left tomorrow. Would you be able to easily access that employee’s sales contacts, deals, and deal history? Would their notes and additional strategic information be available? If your CRM doesn’t have centralized information access, this might prove to be a challenge.

7. What kind of security does the software have?

This is an essential feature for every CRM, as they all store large amounts of personal information. Your customers need to be able to trust you, and that won’t happen if your system is easily accessible. Make sure that your CRM provides security measures to prevent hacking, data breaches, and other malware.

8. How much does this cost?

This question can sometimes be lost in the myriad of discussions about feature depth and software innovation. When purchasing a new CRM, every business has to stick to its budget. In addition to the upfront cost of your chosen solution, there are a variety of fees for implementation, employee training, premium upgrades, and more.

9. How long does it take to implement this solution?

The installation of new software, especially if it’s server-based, can take time. There may be delays or other difficulties, and the productivity of your workplace may be affected as a result.

10. How can I integrate with legacy systems?

This is often one of the biggest challenges when it comes to purchasing new CRM. Unless your company is new and is purchasing its very first software, it is likely that you want your CRM solution to function in tandem with the other technology that you’re using. Different vendors offer different integration possibilities, and certain products integrate easier with Microsoft or Google products, for example.

11. Does this have a steep learning curve?

In addition to integration, another big challenge for CRM customers is teaching employees how to correctly utilize new technology. User interface and experience, feature depth, ease of access, and more can affect how quickly your employees get up to speed with your new product.

12. What kind of support comes with the solution?

Once your CRM has been implemented, you may run into software errors or other unexpected problems. Certain vendors offer 24/7 support, while others offer online resources. Also take note of how often the CRM is updated and maintained by the vendor.

13. Are there data storage limits?

Large enterprises and organizations that need to keep track of lots of customer information should pay attention to possible data limits. Some vendors offer the option to purchase additional storage space in the future as your business grows. Keep in mind the goals of your organization.

14. Is this solution scalable?

If your business is small, you should consider the possibility of future growth when choosing a CRM. Many vendors offer different sized packages, and you can upgrade from one to the other when you see fit. Selecting a CRM without this ability could end up costing you more money in the long run, as you would need to purchase a completely new product.

15. Are your requirements industry specific?

With a wide variety of solutions at your disposal, it’s important to pick a tool that will streamline the workflow of your particular industry. Certain tools are made for certain industries, and it’s better to pick something that aligns with the tasks and goals of your business.

16. What business processes do you want to improve?

Features vary greatly from product to product, even between CRM tools designed for the same vertical. Make sure to identify what parts of your business you’re looking to streamline, and what features you find the most desirable. Sales teams will want certain features, while customer service professionals will seek others.

17. On-prem or in the cloud?

The market has seen a rise of cloud-based technology in recent years, and more companies are looking to integrate that with their CRM solutions. Certain vendors offer entirely cloud-based technology, while others provide server-based solutions. This is also important to consider for companies who employ remote and home-based workers.

For more, we recommend checking out SelectHub’s list of 11 Questions to Ask During a CRM Demo.

Anna Birna Turner

Anna is an enterprise technology writer covering Marketing Automation, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and Application Development. Feel free to reach out to her at any time at abturner@solutionsreview.com
Anna Birna Turner