Hiring a CRM consulting firm to help with your implementation is a big investment of your company’s time, resources, and energy. There are a lot of factors that should go into an evaluation process and you should ask any potential partner a lot of questions to determine the best fit for your organization and your CRM project.
Here are five questions you absolutely must ask when evaluating CRM consulting firms.
1. What CRM systems do you work with?
There are a lot of CRM solutions out there. These platforms serve very different types of businesses and some partners work with many, while others are dedicated to only one or two.
If you’re brand new to the CRM evaluation process, we recommend spending some time researching CRM platforms included in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant. If you are interested in assessing multiple platforms, you should look closely at partners who have experience working with these systems. With this experience, they can conduct an unbiased CRM vendor selection to help you select the CRM platform that best suits your organization’s needs.
Are you entering the evaluation process with a specific system in mind? This should narrow your search as you should focus on partners who specialize solely in the system you’re considering.
Regardless of your position, you should make sure you do your due diligence and ask any potential consulting partner what system their team knows best.
2. What is your team like?
You and your CRM partner will be working together. A lot. You want to make sure that their company values and leadership vibes well with yours. It will make it much easier to connect and work together throughout the vendor selection process (and ultimately your CRM program) if you’re able to understand and appreciate each other’s purpose and principles.
One option to further vet out your potential firm’s team is by asking for a CRM software demo. You can observe how their technical team explains complicated solutions. Challenge their developers with your questions. Make sure their team is agile and knowledgeable enough to handle tough situational questions on the spot. When they’re assigned to work with you on your project, you want to know they’ll be able to meet your specific needs.
If you need some advice on how to run an effective CRM software demo, look no further.
3. Do you understand our business' goals?
It's important to consider how your potential partner will be able to understand your unique business goals. Have they worked with companies like yours in the past? Have they solved problems like the ones you’re facing before? Do they have experience working in your industry? Explore what kind of work they’ve done for their clients in the past. By finding the answers to these questions, you’ll be far happier when you explain your current business problems and your CRM partner responds, “Oh, we’ve done something similar for another client of ours!” Working with a partner who has experience with your industry can also save you money. If they are experts in your industry, they should have existing industry-related IP that could save you development hours. Furthermore, they will be able to provide best practices and make recommendations based on previous project successes.
4. How do you approach the implementation process?
Take the time to research how your potential partner implements CRM. Is their approach set-up to adjust when your needs change? Are they going to keep you in budget and on-time? Beware of partners who agree to an overly aggressive timeline. You want your partner to be your checks and balances, making sure that you are staying realistic and focused throughout the project.
Take the time to consider your end users and what moves you and your partner will make together to manage change at your organization post-deployment. How will this partner train your people on the new CRM system? Have they put feedback loops in place to make sure users’ feedback is taken into account after go-live? What about ongoing efforts and updates? Are they concerned about the long-term success of your CRM program or are they focused only on a quick project with little to no follow through?
5. Do you have a demonstrated level of expertise in CRM?
Lastly, make sure you understand their level of expertise in the space. Explore their blog posts. Read their eBooks. Make sure you understand how they came to be the expert they claim, and whether they’re able to prove it in their thought leadership.
Check their awards page for specific honors and partnerships. For example, if you’re interested in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, look to see if they are a member of the Microsoft Partner Network. Are they a gold-tiered partner? This should be clearly marked on their website and will help further prove the firm’s credibility.
Bonus Question: Do you use offshore resources?
One other thing to consider when evaluating your potential partners team is whether they do their development in-house or offshore. In our experience, there are some serious downsides to consider before working with a partner who utilizes offshore development.
At the end of the day, you’re trusting your consulting partner to help you build a CRM system that provides real business value to your organization. Don’t gamble the success of your system on a partner you aren’t confident in. Take the time to research your partner well and your CRM deployment will be all the stronger for it.