Our search for an ideal CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solution has been going on, in earnest, for almost a year. In that time we have had three different favorites we expected to do business with. In each case, at the last minute, something got in the way – a new release from a competitor, an internal user complaining that a particular package failed their needs, a mysterious drop in price. We’ve been badgered by claims and counter claims by some sales people. Some are too ready to bag their competitors. The proposals are written in a way which makes comparison of price offering next to impossible. Just about every question is answered with a positive response until you want to see it in action then you’re often faced with smoke and mirrors. Too much is left to the implementation where you’re paying by the hour and where, in most cases, the true scope of the work is not documented until the meter starts running.
I understand that CRM companies are in business to make a profit. However, I come from a background of providing small business with software based on tangible outcomes. The needs of my company are not that unique. I’d suggest that any small to medium software company would share the needs we have. Yet too many of our requirements are greeted as unique and therefore requiring customisation. This is when I get suspicious.
I’m happy to take an off the shelf solution and modify business practices around it as long as it is in the playing field of our needs. This is proving to be a challenge for us to find.
We’re going to take a break and spend time talking with others who have implemented. It seems that there are many varied experiences with CRM out there and it might be that by talking with those who have gone before us we find the path we need to follow. The stories I have read in some forums about wasted investment in CRM are the reason for our pause.
In the meantime we’ll sell our own small business software to prospects on the basis of tangible outcomes experienced in more than 1,300 small businesses.