Sonoma Partners Microsoft CRM and Salesforce Blog

CRM Platform Selection in a SaaS World

Today's post was written by Scott Zelinski, Salesforce Practice Director at Sonoma Partners.

Imagine buying your next car when criteria like styling, available accessories, engine size, or even performance were less important because the automaker would provide at home upgrades (while you sleep) 2-3 times a year, constantly making your vehicle better.

If you didn’t care for a particular upgrade you could reject it, or postpone it until later. The accessories that come with the car would also independently continuously improve. At appropriate times, new color and styling options would become available to stay in-tune with current trends. Even the aerodynamics of the car would evolve with state of the art science and technology research.

If this were reality, we would choose our vehicles much differently. We would disregard the smaller details and focus on the automaker’s “vision” for our vehicle. We would focus on the transitions it had undergone historically and where it was trending in the future. Our criteria would change as would our decision process.

In our current SaaS (Software as a Service) world, this is our reality.  Selecting a platform to enable your CRM strategy has also changed – definitely for the better.

The old school software selection process identified/documented all relevant user stories, prioritized and weighted them, and communicated them to potential vendors on the short list. We asked software vendors to provide detailed (= long) demos with all decision makers and core users in the room rating seemingly each and every mouse click. The result was typically a mind numbing exercise that took way too much time, wore out the project team before the project even started, and annoyed the vendors. In those days we would typically prohibit the software vendors from previewing functionality that was not yet generally available because we never knew when, if ever, upgrades would be made.

Thankfully, those days are behind us. CRM Platform selections today are much different. While core functionality is certainly important, knowing where/how platform vendors are extending that functionality becomes critical. The core features that are truly differentiators to your company should still be explored, but the base functionality can be reviewed at a high level, and new functionality on their release schedule becomes extremely relevant.

Core selection criteria includes much more of a business exercise:

  • The vendor’s business model and track record in your industry
  • Their ability to address your differentiating business needs (historically and in the future)
  • Your total cost of ownership and a real ROI model to get you there
  • Their ability to drive adoption across all impacted stakeholder groups (not just core users)
  • Their culture fit with your organization as more than ever, this is a true partnership

Focusing on the right business criteria will shorten your selection, keep your team fresh, keep the vendors engaged at the right level, and get you moving faster towards putting the right solution in your stakeholder’s hands.

If you need assistance with these types of challenges in your firm, we welcome the discussion:

How to get executives to pay attention to CRM


Topics: CRM Platform Selection