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Choosing the Right CRM: A Comprehensive Guide, Part 2

Oct. 04, 2023 | Jailyn Glass

HubSpot Sales Hub's deal pipeline view | How to choose the right CRM

In the first installment of our exploration into the world of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, we laid the groundwork, highlighting the fundamental features and the underlying significance of CRMs in our digitally-driven business ecosystem. As we venture into the second part of our series, we’re not just skimming the surface but diving deep. We’ll delve into nuanced comparisons of top CRM platforms, explore integration capabilities with other business tools, and highlight often overlooked features that can be game-changers for certain industries.

Whether you’re a startup setting sail in the digital domain or an established enterprise seeking to optimize your customer relationship tools, this in-depth analysis promises insights and guidance to ensure your choice is well-informed and strategic. Join us as we navigate the complexities, uncover the potential, and learn how to choose the right CRM.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Right CRM

  • Step 1: Consultation with Stakeholders and Key Users
  • Step 2: Goal Identification
  • Step 3: Evaluation of Your Technology Stack
  • Step 4: Scrutinizing Vital Features and Capabilities
  • Step 5: Weighing Costs and ROI
  • Step 6: Crafting Your Implementation Strategy

Every company operates differently, and choosing CRM software that aligns with your specific company processes is vital.

Nevertheless, you can undertake some universal steps to ensure you are well-prepared to navigate the procurement process and exit with a solution that caters to your workforce and customers.

Step 1: Engaging with stakeholders & key users

A CRM must align with your team’s requirements and current processes to ensure successful results. Before exploring features or expected outcomes, it’s crucial to understand each team’s needs regarding the new CRM software.

The most effective way to comprehend your teams’ needs is to consult with the users who interact with your existing CRM or similar systems daily. While stakeholder input is invaluable, it is equally crucial to connect with:

  • Revenue and business operations teams overseeing backend systems
  • Sales, marketing, and service teams reliant on frontend functionality

Ask each team about their CRM access needs and interactions with contacts and data. This presents an excellent opportunity to evaluate your teams’ challenges in their current systems and solicit their input on the improvements most desirable to each team or department.

Use the insights garnered from key users to brief your leadership team on overarching trends and priorities. Subsequently, employ insights from all tiers of your organization to delineate an “ideal state” for your new CRM and establish a checklist to steer your quest.

Tip: Assemble a focus group comprising members from your core teams to ensure a comprehensive perspective on the optimal path forward.

Step 2: Identifying your objectives

With the inputs of all stakeholders in mind, the time is ripe to articulate the objectives and outcomes you intend your new CRM to enable. You should create a list of KPIs measuring individual user performance and company objectives.

To initiate this goal-setting phase, ask questions such as:

  • Is this CRM adoption the first of its kind, or is it transitioning from an existing system?
  • What are our present goals, and how do we assess our progress toward achieving them?
  • Are there deficiencies in performance management or reporting processes?
  • Are there challenges we intend to resolve but currently lack the requisite functionality?
  • What reports or insights are crucial for integrating into the new system?

Draw from your team’s insights, company goals, and responses to the aforementioned questions to delineate your chief priorities. Remember that while a CRM can deliver significant value to your company, expecting it to rectify every pain point is unrealistic.

Compose a list of must-haves and nice-to-have elements for each team or department, and employ these lists to arrange the features you will seek in your new CRM.

For instance, tech stack compatibility might be necessary for your operations team, whereas unlimited administrative support could be desirable but not a deal-breaker. In a scenario where you must choose between the two, prioritize software compatibility.

Step 3: Evaluating your technology stack

Assessing your prevailing technology stack represents the finest approach to guarantee ease of use and long-term software compatibility. Your technology teams will also appreciate the consideration given to the bigger picture at this juncture.

As you research potential CRMs, contemplate which ones integrate seamlessly with your existing tools. This presents a splendid occasion to ascertain whether a new CRM can streamline your technology stack. Chances are, features within each CRM could potentially replace an existing tool, culminating in a more streamlined operation and potential cost savings.

Tip: Identify potential integration or compatibility issues and formulate a mitigation strategy. This will help avert any unforeseen surprises or additional expenses to your new CRM post-commitment.

Unifying your organization around a singular software solution elevates your processes and enhances cross-team synchronization. Nonetheless, some organizations opt to manage two CRMs concurrently. For instance, they may orchestrate marketing activities using HubSpot, then transition leads to Salesforce once they qualify as SQLs.

Should you opt for dual CRM operation, even if temporarily, you must ensure that data seamlessly synchronizes between systems. Platforms such as HubSpot offer integrations that make this approach feasible, ensuring a cohesive flow of information between CRMs.

HubSpot’s Salesforce integration simplifies transferring data between both CRM systems. Configure the data synchronization function to effortlessly transfer your Salesforce field data into the matching properties in HubSpot.

Step 4: Assessing vital features & capabilities

The time has come to delve into the precise features and capabilities an efficacious, growth-oriented CRM should offer. While your priority list will hinge on the objectives you defined in step two, several essential features should not elude scrutiny as you begin your selection process.

Reports & dashboards

Your CRM will serve as a repository for a wealth of high-value data, all of which your teams necessitate access to, organize, and analyze based on their unique objectives and KPIs. Opt for a CRM equipped with robust reporting features, offering your teams access to data and intuitive tools for analysis. Ideally, you should have the flexibility to create custom fields and dashboards across different departments.

Data quality management tools

In addition to storing and retrieving customer data, you must uphold data quality—ensuring accuracy, completeness, consistency, and more—as your database expands. When considering data cleansing, evaluate each CRM’s automation features and capacity for multi-source data aggregation to gain a comprehensive view of your operations.


Although your CRM will include many valuable features, it won’t be the only software needed to handle your operations. Assess the features of each prospective CRM and evaluate integration capabilities to ensure swift and efficient connections with external systems.

Tip: Some CRMs provide additional plug-in options to enhance external connections. For instance, HubSpot’s “Hubs” allow companies to seamlessly integrate CMS, Operations, and other solutions into their CRM.

Custom object associations

Should you collect data that does not align with your CRM’s standard properties, your new software must permit you to store and generate reports on this data. This could encompass transaction statuses for banking entities or subscription specifics for SaaS companies. Your updated CRM should enable you to document and analyze these custom objects independently without needing external systems or manual operations.

Administrative support

Learning a new software entails substantial time and effort, needing the availability of readily accessible support from your provider. Assess the provided support hours and the accessibility of resources you may need to tackle problems from technical glitches to deficiencies in user education.

Step 5: Contemplating costs & ROI

The next step involves evaluating the financial implications of adopting new CRM software. While cost is important, it’s crucial to consider more than just the initial price tags of potential solutions.

For instance, consider the long-term benefits of resolving the most vexing challenges your employees face. How will addressing these issues impact your business’s overall value?

Making your employees’ tasks more straightforward extends beyond enhancing their daily productivity; it also elevates their job satisfaction and heightens the likelihood of their long-term commitment to your organization. Conversely, delivering a superior customer experience paves the way for exponential growth prospects for your brand.

Considering the long-term perspective when choosing a CRM for yourself and your stakeholders is important. While a cheaper option may seem sufficient for the short term, it’s essential to consider what will happen if it can’t handle growth or customization in the future.

Unfortunately, a cost-effective solution lacking scalability is more expensive than initially investing in scalable software. Scaling up an existing CRM proves considerably more manageable and cost-effective than initiating a fresh start every few years. The significance of getting it right from the outset cannot be overemphasized.

Tip: Seek CRMs that provide add-ons or comprehensive product ecosystems to support your brand’s growth and assist in managing additional facets of your internal operations.

Step 6: Outlining your implementation strategy

As you reach your final procurement decision, you must formulate an internal plan to oversee your new CRM’s setup, launch, and adoption. Here are several steps to guide you in the correct direction:

  • Identify implementation resources: Before investing in new software, allocate teams to handle the technical endeavors required to make the transition possible. Identify the internal resources, for instance, technology teams, and possible external ones, such as implementation partners, that will manage your migration.
  • Establish a realistic timeline: Devise a high-level timeline that encompasses procurement, implementation, configuration, and launch. Account for potential delays and incorporate a buffer for quality assurance and testing before onboarding your sales, marketing, and service teams onto the new CRM.
  • Develop an adoption blueprint: Now is the moment to delve into the nitty-gritty of your CRM implementation. Consider how you will manage critical tasks such as data migration, team training, and more. Furthermore, you should draft a high-level maintenance plan to ensure the implementation follows best practices immediately.
What lies ahead?

The quest for the ideal CRM entails a delicate balance of internal hurdles, client needs, and business constraints. Irrespective of your unique situation or software needs, the actual worth of your newly acquired CRM should be in its ability to serve your company for many years ahead.

Perhaps most importantly, your CRM should serve as the bedrock of your customers’ experience, meaning it must evolve in step with your efforts to delight today’s customers and refine your offerings to cater to the needs of tomorrow’s market.

Enhance your CRM strategy with Perfect Afternoon digital marketing services

As you select the right CRM, it’s crucial to recognize that your CRM strategy extends beyond software alone. At Perfect Afternoon, we understand a meticulously chosen CRM’s significant role in nurturing customer relationships and driving business success. Our mission is to assist you in finding the perfect CRM and craft a comprehensive CRM strategy to help your company thrive.

Choosing the right CRM is a critical decision, and we believe the CRM journey is about more than just software – crafting a customer-centric strategy to propel your company toward long-term success. Contact us today to discover how our digital marketing services can complement your CRM strategy and help you deliver exceptional experiences to your customers. Your customers deserve the best, and we’re here to assist you.