Before you commence your CRM evaluation, ensure that you conduct research and create a digital strategy. The CRM you select is only a tool, how you use it is what will get you results. If your business isn’t ready or you haven’t taken the time out to prepare a digital strategy, your investment will not pay off. I will be focusing the discussion on Salesforce’s offerings as my expertise lies in Salesforce- however, I encourage you to apply what you learn here to evaluate other software as well.
- What is Cloud Computing? Start with learning the basics of what Cloud Computing is. You probably already use the cloud, but do you even know what it is, and what it is capable of? How does it compare to in-house infrastructure? By understanding the core of what Sales Cloud is based on, will help you in making a case for investing in Cloud CRM
- Salesforce Research: Learn more about the industry and trends that Salesforce themselves, pull from their research to understand the fundamental principles that each product is built upon. Do these principles align with your organization’s principles? A quick example to illustrate: I’ve read through Pardot’s reports and white papers, I was able to make the observation that Pardot is based off Account Based Marketing and they seek to execute ABM through alignment of Sales and Marketing teams. Does this resonate with your organization? Is this something your organization is already working towards? Is there already buy-in to that concept? Understanding the core concepts and data that goes into making the software will help you understand if your organization is aligned and prepared to do so. Remember, Salesforce provides the TOOL to help you magnify your processes. Your team can make or break the tools.
- Your own industry’s research: Read industry reports from your industry’s association! You can find these reports by typing in your profession + association. You’ll likely find free research reports available that give you an overview of the industry and offers recommendations. Digital strategy is often a key point most industries have made a point of discussing. Moving to the cloud will be the foundation of digital strategy, they’ll offer insight into the benefits of it from your industry standpoint. If you’re unable to find industry reports from your association, look to Deloitte, PwC or EY for recommendations regarding digital strategy
- Look to consulting if you’d like assistance with formulating a digital strategy for your firm. In a sense, you will be outsourcing diversity of thought. Having someone with technical knowledge as well as an outside perspective will bring in fresh ideas and opportunities that you have not tapped into yet
- Check out data sheets: Read over what the system aims to improve your business. Specifically, look at their metrics. Use these as benchmarks and compare with the metrics your business is specifically looking to improve
2. What are the use cases? What will your day look like?
- If you want hands-on learning, get a free 30-day trial to get a feel for the platform. No Credit Card is required. Use your own Company data to test out the software.
- Sales Cloud: Enterprise or Professional (What’s the difference? Learn here)
- Service Cloud
- Pardot (Live Demo Only)
- Field Service Lightning (Trial with Service Cloud)
- Community Cloud (No trial available)
- Marketing Cloud (No trial Available)
- Health Cloud
- Financial Services Cloud
- Non-Profit Sucess Pack Trial
- BONUS: Salesforce Developer Edition (Free for life)
3. How do Salesforce offerings differ from their competitors?
Examine reviews to compare and contrast products. Often, you’ll find there are a lot of point solutions- they’ll often be customized to your specific process. Out of the box, Salesforce isn’t built specifically for your business processes, but it offers the flexibility to customize and you’ll likely have to make a bigger investment in the short term to achieve those specific processes found in point solutions. The plus of that investment is that you’ll be able to integrate a consistent view of data across your organization- data that you can leverage in any department. A drawback is that it’ll likely cost more and will take more time. You can invest in customizing Salesforce offerings that can mimic point click solutions while maintaining the scalability of the platform.
Be sure to read reviews that are SIMILAR to your situation. I highly encourage using filters to find other companies who are similar to yourself and to learn how they leverage CRM in their organization: is it different from you intended to use CRM for in your business?
- G2Crowd: Compare other CRM platforms with Sales Cloud
- Get App: Over 4,000 reviews on Salesforce’s Sales Cloud CRM
- Gartner Peer Reviews: A reputable research firm has garnered 232 reviews for Sales Cloud
Remember that you know your business best, start with clearly communicating and defining your business objectives and bridge your knowledge gap of CRM to understand how you can potentiate your business objectives. CRM is only a tool, you can either make or break that tool.