People never like to admit when they are not knowledgeable on a subject, but when it comes to CRM, lacking education can result in choosing the wrong vendor and ultimately, inevitable failure. Though CRM has become a catch phrase, there are many companies out there who don’t readily understand the term. They may recognize their company’s need for a CRM product but without knowing much about its purpose and value, their search for the right solution ends up becoming a big problem.
In this blog, I will explore the value of educating one’s self on CRM so to help those actively seeking a solution, with how to select the right vendor. Though learning something new is never a fun task, adding education into the CRM equation will be your company’s best lesson yet.
Recognize Your Level of CRM Education
Before exploring the immense database of CRM resources, it’s imperative for companies to be aware of their level of education. Those who have used CRM systems in the past are at a greater advantage than those who have never assessed or used CRM software before. Having used a system, an individual can grasp the software’s capabilities and how those functions correlate to their company’s processes, and thus provide value. Knowing this information allows for them to better assess how each vendor’s capabilities match up with their company’s needs and therefore choose the most suitable provider.
Being able to understand what stage of CRM education a company is at also sheds light on how much hand-holding they will need from a CRM vendor. From there, companies can assess vendors based upon the amount of training, support, and additional services they provide in order to ensure successful adoption and deployment.
The 3 Go-To Resources:
In order to best sort through the clutter of CRM resources, I have narrowed it down to a list of the top 3, based upon authority, credibility and popularity.
There is no denying that word-of-mouth is the most effective form of marketing and most influential factor in consumer’s buying decisions. In the CRM industry, one of the best resources to consult is user reviews. Whether a company comes across a review directly on a CRM vendor’s website or through a vendor directory, hearing the experiences of other companies can provide invaluable insight on which vendor to select. User reviews illuminate both the positive and negative aspects of CRM solutions from first-hand experience, which can greatly assist uneducated companies with which questions they should be asking and which CRM solutions they should avoid.
White papers are the second most valuable CRM resource. These authoritative reports and guides provide a wealth of credible information on very specific topics. From developing CRM strategies to comparing vendor services, white papers are a useful free source of expert advice. Many white papers are produced by noted research companies, such as Forrester or Aberdeen, and provide a more analytical and in-depth approach to understanding and implementing CRM software. White papers are especially useful for those companies that don’t fully understand the value and importance that CRM offers for a company’s business development and relationship building and should therefore be consulted before that company assesses their CRM options.
Webinars have quickly replaced traditional ways of conducting presentations. Apart from offering an interactive element online, webinars have gained their popularity from the fact that they can be accessed by a mass audience. CRM vendors are increasingly conducting webinars as a way to push their product and educate prospective clients on the benefits of CRM. Though some webinars may be specific to one company, they are a unique and informative method of learning about the industry as a whole. Webinars are also extremely beneficial in that after the speaker completes their session, attendees are able to ask questions that are answered in real time.
Though this post outlines the top 3 resources available for active CRM seekers, there is an abundance of resources available that may be considered more informative or authoritative. Regardless, my goal is to inform people of the importance of educating one’s self on CRM before selecting a vendor. Knowing your stage of CRM education and then extensively learning about the value, purpose and benefits of CRM, will greatly assist companies with choosing the most suitable vendor and the most successful CRM solution.