Making a decision about a consultant for CRM at an SMB Involves many factors. Implementing a CRM is one of the most important things an SMB can do to improve their business. It goes without saying that you want to find a consultant with a lot of experience. It’s also important, and especially important for SMBs to find consultants that have experience with a variety of CRM … and can recommend the best CRM platform for a specific business.
In our experience at Valenta, choosing a CRM for small business comes down to looking at 5 key criteria.
Those 5 points include first, … being able to truly take a true consulting approach. Secondly, being able to provide customization suited to the needs of a specific SMB is critical. Point 3 for us is being able to provide integration plus additional modules to supplement a CRM. Our fourth point is making sure an SMB selects a consultant that has proven implementation and development skills. Lastly, our fifth criteria, is making sure any consultant company can provide ongoing maintenance and outsourced administration if needed.
Let’s take a closer look at our 5 key criteria of what should you look for in a CRM consultant.
1) Takes a True Consulting Approach
Being able to take a true consulting approach to any CRM project seems obvious. However, in our experience, there are many companies out there that only want to undertake CRM projects for a particular type of CRM … which coincidentally they have expertise in. A good analogy is a hammer always being the solution to a carpenter’s problem. The best consultants for CRM projects start with the end in mind. They will document exactly where a business is starting from, and they will speak with the business about what they want to achieve. Only after documenting the “as is” scenario will a good consultant speak with a client about where a business wants to go. In the conversations about what is ideal for a CRM implementation, good consultants will cover all the bases. They will make sure that they fully understand what a business wants to get out of a CRM implementation, what should be deployed first, and what should be deployed in stages. Once establishing the current baseline, … beginning with the end in mind will be the rule of the day.
2) Provides customization suited to your business
When it comes to CRM tools and a CRM platform, there are many ways that they can be customized for specific businesses. CRM for small businesses especially requires good thought to customization. Additional fields can be added to many CRM platforms. Also, fields can be renamed for specific business’s requirements and their specific market segments. In addition to remapping and renaming different CRM fields 3rd party modules or even additional modules from a CRM vendor can be added to make a more robust CRM platform. Being able to address all of this and being able to discuss and offer all of this is critical when it comes to providing services to SMB clients. At Valenta, we know all about this. We have had several CRM engagements where we have basically conducted cleanup duty of poorly implemented CRM projects. These projects were poorly implemented because no customization was done for specific SMB requirements. As a consequence, these clients were not able to leverage the power of their CRM tools. With more careful upfront thinking, consideration for the specific needs of an SMB, and the skills required to customize, all CRM implementations can be successful.
3) Can Integrate Additional Modules
A CRM platform is essential for sales departments, marketing departments, and customer support departments. Different CRM tools specialize in solutions for some of these departments and not all CRM platforms are equally good for all these departments. Other CRM platforms are good all-around tools, and some even add ERP capabilities if an SMB wants to grow in that direction. Because of these factors it is important to understand what the highest priority is. It’s also important to understand what add-on modules will need to be integrated to the CRM immediately or over the coming years. Quoting tools, calendars, customer ticketing, email campaigns, and invoicing are just a few examples of modules that need to be considered during a CRM implementation. It is only after truly understanding a business’s requirements and its plans for the future that the best CRM solution can be selected.
4) Has Proven Development and Implementation Skills
As we discussed earlier, it goes without saying that it is critical to select a consultant company that really behaves as a consultant and documents and puts all options on the table. However, once those options have been selected, it is critical to have a consultant who has had proven implementation experience and has real development skills and resources. Development skills will provide the capabilities for customizing solutions and adding modules, … whether they are from the CRM vendor or from third party platforms. At Valenta we have a large number of staff who are available for CRM projects. Our staff is a mix of technical offshore talent, and onshore, near shore, and offshore business consultants. Our technical staff and our consultants all have experience with different CRM modules. They will recommend the best CRM tool for the job, and they will also be able to speak to various CRM options in order to help companies determine the best selection for their specific business. Our consultants and technical staff are coming from different industry segments and bring experience from those segments to every project. On top of this, our local managing partners have various domain expertise and add value in terms of the customization of CRM solutions for local markets and specific domains.
5) Provides Ongoing Maintenance & Administration
Once a project is completed, a CRM consultant for an SMB can provide considerable additional value by providing ongoing maintenance services. If blocks of hours can be purchased annually, or whenever they are needed to make any CRM platform updates, it will be of tremendous value to an SMB. We offer this capability to our clients. Something else of tremendous value to SMB clients is being able to outsource the administration of their CRM platform. At Valenta, we have people available for administrative roles for a variety of CRM platforms. Having virtual CRM administration staff available 40 hours a week, or even 20 hours a week, 4 weeks a month, 52 weeks a year can be impactful for any SMB. We have many customers who we have provided CRM consulting & implementations services for that have taken us up on the offer of providing full or part time CRM administrators after a project has been implemented. We are very happy to be able to provide this service to our SMB clients. We firmly believe that our clients should focus on what they do best … and that they should outsource or rely on Valenta for back-office functionality. Outsourced administrative staff, or maintenance hours provided in blocks, are great ways to offload CRM maintenance. By leveraging these optional services our clients can better focus on their core mission.
Want to Learn More?
As we had stated in an earlier blog, by implementing customer relationship management software businesses can ensure that they are not driving or flying blind. In this blog we hope that we have successfully covered what you should look for in a CRM consultant. Our 5 key criteria is a great outline. However, it all starts with having a true consultative approach and… beginning with the end in mind. Once that is accomplished it is all about being well rounded and having the required skill set.
Valenta is a business consulting and business software integration services provider. We focus on serving small and midsized businesses. We provide the same services large consulting firms offer to the Fortune 1,000. Valenta provides offshore or near shore virtual staff in addition to consulting and software integration services and can provide virtual CRM Administrators for SMB CRM implementations.
If you would like to learn more about CRM, our blogs and website are great places to start.
These 3 other blogs on CRM may be of particular interest.
If you would like to get in touch on this topic or any others, please Contact Valenta