Can Your CRM Database Be Extended?

Adding CRM Database TablesLike all databases, a CRM database has tables. Tables are the most important component of a database. Data are stored in rows within tables.

In CRM systems, the Account table stores company information. The Contact table stores information about people.

Different CRM vendors have different names for tables. Microsoft calls tables entities. Salesforce.com and GreenRope refer to tables as objects. SugarCRM and Zoho both label tables modules.

All CRM systems come with a standard set of tables. These typically include Accounts, Contacts, Opportunities and Activities. There are usually a variety of other tables that are in place to support the CRM system’s functionality.

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The Fastest Way For a Sales Leader to Get a New CRM

Get a new CRM system fastWhether you’re a long-time sales leader at your company or you’re brand new to your organization, you may not have the right tools in place for reporting on the activities and aggregate pipeline of your sales team.

However, the CEO has asked you to regularly report to him or her about specific sales activity and what new business to expect in the coming months. To get the requested information, you spend a lot of time asking salespeople questions, collecting spreadsheets and consolidating information.

What you really need — and need fast — is a CRM system that works for both your salespeople and for you, as an accountable manager. In this situation, patience is not always a virtue. The faster you can get a new CRM system up and running (or an existing CRM system properly configured), the better.

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CRM in Manufacturing: A Necessary Investment For Increasing Sales?

CRM In ManufacturingMany manufacturing companies have had thriving businesses for decades, without the help of a standalone CRM system.

For most of these manufacturers, the ERP system has served as the company’s shared repository customer information.

Individual salespeople have been managing end customer, dealer and distributor personnel information as email client contacts.

A salesperson at a manufacturer who manages major accounts knows exactly who to stay in touch with. In their case, it’s the quality of relationships, not the quantity.

For manufacturers that do not have a CRM system in place, here are some of the places where we’ve seen CRM-equivalent data stored:

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CRM Selection For Your Business: Seven Proven Steps

CRM Selection StepsCRM selection has become more difficult over the last several years, as many vendors have upped their game. They playing field has become more level.

While healthy competition ultimately benefits all organizations, an abundance of choices make it more difficult for those tasked with selecting the right CRM solution for their company to achieve the optimal outcome.

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CRM Industry Analyst Quadrants, Matrices, Grids and Quarter Circles

CRM Industry Analyst VisualizationWhile there are hundreds of industry analyst firms worldwide, a handful are well known for their CRM industry analysis and visualizations.

Each CRM industry analyst company takes a different approach to visually representing the CRM market leaders, laggards and tweeners.

Industry analysts’ high level visualizations, along with an accompanying narrative and report, can help a given company determine which CRM vendors should be on their shortlist.

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Zoho CRM Plus – Should It Be On Your Shortlist?

Zoho CRM PlusThis past week, I attended the first day of Zoho’s 2017 Zoholics Sales & Marketing Conference to learn more about the company, its applications and leadership’s vision.

As a company that provides CRM strategy and selection services, we are always keeping our eye out for potential shortlist candidates for companies that are considering a new CRM system.

CRM Switch works with our customers to determine which CRM vendors should be on the shortlist, based on the requirements that we’ve jointly gathered, assembled and prioritized.

Most of the companies that engage us have moderately to highly sophisticated business requirements. As such, the shortlist vendors that we collaboratively decide on need to have a set of key capabilities within their offerings. Among these are:

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6 Levels of CRM Expenses

Six Levels of CRM ExpensesThe cost of a CRM subscription is not the only component of CRM expense. In fact, depending on the size of an organization and/or the complexity of requirements, there can be at least six different levels of CRM expenses.

Below is a chart and an associated table of CRM related expenses over a three year period for a hypothetical company with 50 CRM users. The chart and table are embedded from this spreadsheet. Feel free to save this as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet or to make a copy in Google Sheets. From there, you can plug in your own user count and assumed per user costs.

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CRM Company Headquarter Locations – A World Map

CRM Company HeadquartersIn a flat world, does it matter to a CRM buyer where a CRM company is headquartered?

Generally not. However, there are cases in which the location of a CRM company can influence a CRM buying decision.

An emerging brand is often better marketed in its local area than in others. A small business owner in St. Louis is far more likely to have heard of Less Annoying Software than a small business owner in Seattle. Conversely, someone in Seattle is more like to have heard about PipelineDeals than someone in St. Louis.

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8 Reasons Why You Should Never Develop a CRM RFP

CRM RFPTraditionally, the RFI/RFP process has served to help buyers at companies understand important feature/functionality differences between multiple vendor solutions, so that a large group of potential vendors can be whittled down to a short list. An RFP can also represent an initial round of vendor scoring. RFPs have even been used to disqualify vendors early on.

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What Do CRM Professional Services Cost?

CRM Professional Services CostCRM user license costs are only part of the initial cost of a CRM system. Another cost is CRM professional services.

Some companies make the decision to self-implement their CRM system. This is usually because there are people in-house who provide a combination of CRM-related business analysis experience and the right level of technical aptitude to manage tasks ranging from system configuration to data migration.

Many companies look to third parties to perform some or all of their CRM implementation. Unlike the cost of CRM user licenses, the cost of CRM services is not based on straightforward unit pricing.

In fact, there is a very large range in what organizations pay for CRM professional services. Some companies use CRM with only some minor changes to the systems’ out of the box configuration. Other companies consolidate functionality from multiple legacy database systems into their CRM system and develop custom integrations. These companies can end up spending well into five figures over the course of time.

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Technology Evaluation: Should It Be a Technological Exercise?

Technology Evaluation Hammer and NailERP, CRM, Martech, Intranet, LMS and eCommerce are some of the technology categories commonly associated with a formal technology evaluation process.

A thorough technology evaluation is often an in-house effort, but many companies contract with third parties for assistance with an evaluation.

Why do some companies bring in a third party? They may not have the inclination to do the requisite staff interviews. They may not have time to research the market for a short list of potential solutions.

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5 Reasons to Define Your CRM Requirements First

CRM Requirements FirstIn the CRM purchasing process, a common sequence of events for CRM buyers is to first go through a round of vendor demos and to then decide on and commit to a specific CRM vendor. After the purchase of the CRM system, the next step is to go through the exercise of defining detailed CRM requirements. Finally, a CRM implementation is performed based on those defined requirements.

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How a Sales Leader Can Get a CRM System Up and Running FAST

Select CRM FastWhether you’re a long-time sales leader at your company or you’re brand new to your organization, you may not have the right tools in place for viewing the activities and selling cycle progress of your sales team.

However, the president or CEO wants you to regularly report to him or her about specific sales activity and performance metrics. To get the requested information, you spend a lot of time on one-on-one calls with salespeople: asking questions, collecting spreadsheets, and compiling the information.

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Enterprise CRM: What Is It And Does Your Business Need It?

Enterprise CRM: What Is It And Does Your Business Need It?The term “enterprise CRM” can be confusing for someone who has just started searching for CRM solutions for their business. With so many vendors offering so many editions, it’s easy to get confused when trying to decide if a business needs enterprise CRM.

To make matters even more confusing, some vendors offer enterprise CRM, but call it by a different name. This has led some people to believe that CRM and enterprise CRM are the same thing, just with a different volume of licenses. While they do share certain features, there are vast differences between enterprise CRM and standard CRM products. Understanding these differences should make it easier for a business to decide which solution best fits their needs.

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How to Avoid a CRM Demo That Wastes Everyone’s Time

Sales guy demoing CRMBecause of the high cost of most CRM software, an important part of the evaluation and selection process is the CRM demo. If a vendor’s software doesn’t end up meeting your organization’s needs or is under-adopted, committing to the wrong vendor can turn out to be an expensive mistake.

The stage in your buying cycle at which you view a CRM demo is critical. Many companies schedule CRM demonstrations too soon.

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What is a CRM Scorecard (and do I need one)?

Thumbnail image of a CRM scorecard in a spreadsheetWhatever you call it–scorecard, report card, feature matrix–there are certainly lots of variations on the theme. The underlying idea is to provide a method of comparing, apples-to-apples, two or more software solutions.

For the purposes of this post, we will define a CRM scorecard as a catalog of important factors to be measured.

In terms of the evaluation of CRM solutions, my experience has proven that the only effective scorecard is a custom CRM scorecard. Why? Because your company’s workflows, business rules, and priorities are different than others.

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Five Ways to Save on CRM Subscription Costs

Save on CRM SubscriptionIn today’s subscription economy, there are a number of ways to save on the total cost of CRM software. Below are five of them. The same advice can apply to almost any type of enterprise subscription software.

1. Don’t commit to a CRM subscription before you’re ready

This may sound obvious, but don’t sign a contract before you’re ready. We’ve heard of several companies that got a great deal on CRM licenses by committing by a certain date — but the user licenses ended up sitting on a virtual shelf for over a year.

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What’s the Best CRM Software?

The Best CRM SoftwareAsking the question, “what’s the best CRM software?” is similar to asking the question, “what’s the best ERP software?”

With an increasing number of CRM choices, the answer depends on the size of your organization, your business model, your systems landscape, your budget and more.

People often turn to crowd review sites or traditional review sites to find the best CRM. Some traditional review sites are limited to only those vendors that are currently participating in a lead generation program — so the vendor landscape may not be complete.

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