How to choose the right CRM for your business • Digital Dot

How to choose the right CRM for your business

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software continues to boom, as new digital marketing challenges dictate a stronger customer-first philosophy. This rapid expansion has made CRM much more of a household name, as the market provides increasingly more affordable solutions. Indeed, between affordability and specializations, options for every budget and every need abound like never before. This abundance of options does present a challenge, however, as businesses may struggle to find the ideal solutions for them. As a New York SEO company, we at Digital Dot have seen this challenge unfold manifold. Thus, we’d like to devote this article to helping you choose the right CRM for your business, step by step.

Define your business goals

The very first step in this process, as with all business endeavors, should entail defining your goals. Businesses that seek CRM solutions typically do so to solve specific problems; underperforming lead acquisition, lacking conversions, and so forth. It’s thus wise to begin by carefully defining your exact intended outcomes, so as to pick the ideal CRM candidates.

Most marketers will agree that the best way to do so comes with the S.M.A.R.T. template. Exact definitions will slightly differ, but the core remains the same:

  • Specific. Define your goal in as specific terms as possible.
  • Measurable. Identify the metrics that will allow you to measure your goals’ success.
  • Attainable. Ensure your goal remains realistic in relation to your resources and market position.
  • Relevant. Align your goal with other business practices and goals.
  • Timely. Set a clear timeframe for your goal against which to measure success.

Riable offers an excellent illustration of this concept in action:

An illustration of the SMART business goal acronym.

Choose the right CRM for your business departments

By the same token, solving specific business operation problems doesn’t typically lie with one department. Rather, each department may identify its own challenges it needs to overcome. Therefore, the next step should be twofold; collect department-wide feedback on their needs, and mind your industry’s needs.

Sales teams will indeed often make more use of CRM than marketing or service teams. However, streamlining business operations requires seamless cooperation, and CRM explicitly aims to break down data silos to do so. The first step should thus be to gauge which features each team needs, and to evaluate whether they will all make meaningful use of your candidates.

As you do, you may examine industry-specific CRM solutions that can more closely align with your needs. Such specialized candidates will typically advertise themselves as such, for clarity and convenience, so you may consider this classification. Moving companies, for instance, will typically find much more value in moving company CRM than general-use solutions.

Decide on cloud versus on-premise

With your goals and needs in mind, you may next make a final crucial decision as regards your candidates. That is, whether your business would benefit more from cloud-based or on-premise CRM.

Notably, cloud-based CRMs have decidedly taken the lead over the past decade. IBM found that 87% of all CRMs were already cloud-based in 2017, and SelectHub finds this trend continues today. That’s a complete inversion from 2008, when 88% of CRM users opted for on-premise.

However, that’s not to say that the cloud will always offer the better option. Rather, each comes with distinct advantages and disadvantages that each business should carefully weigh. SuperOffice consolidates the two as follows:

A table that compares on-premise and cloud-based solutions.

Ensure GDPR compliance

The subject of where data is stored presents another notable aspect of CRM. That is, each solution’s ability to ensure GDPR compliance.

To say that GDRP has changed customer data management forever would be an understatement. This expansive data protection regulation came into effect in 2018, and it defines personal data and individual rights therein. In brief, it covers 9 individual data rights:

  1. Consent has to be given
  2. The right to access
  3. The right to be forgotten
  4. The right to data portability
  5. The right to be informed
  6. The right to have the information corrected
  7. The right to restrict processing
  8. The right to object
  9. The right to be notified

CRM solutions will typically classify related features as consent management – and naturally, such features are imperative to secure GDPR compliance. Thus, to choose the right CRM for your business, your candidates should offer them in no unclear terms.

Carefully identify the features you will need

Having secured all of the above, you may now conduct one final analysis on the exact features you will need. All the top digital marketing agencies NYC has to offer stress this point strongly, and we could not agree more.

The reason for this step lies, quite simply, in the abundance of CRM features available. As the market strives to provide expansive solutions to each individual business concern and challenge, such features only expand. However, this both inflates CRM price tags, sometimes needlessly so, and often entails adoption challenges.

To address this step you may revisit the data you have gathered in previous steps. Consult your S.M.A.R.T. goals and your teams’ feedback to pinpoint what you need and what you may exclude. For instance, SuperOffice identifies the continued prioritization of email marketing features, which CRM vendors cater to in turn:

Survey results on marketing program spending priorities.

However, local businesses and ones with robust email marketing foundations may reasonably value such features less. In such cases, “less is more” should find perfect applications.

Sign up for trials and demos

Once you have narrowed down your candidates to a select few, you may begin to sign up for trials and demos. As you do, you may evaluate your candidates’ qualities and acquire information on such elements as:

  • User-friendliness; does the CRM offer a clean, user-friendly dashboard? Adoption issues often arise from shortcomings on this front.
  • Scalability; can the CRM scale to your likely needs in the near future? CRMs that cannot scale well enough will need to be replaced, introducing more costs and workflow disruptions.
  • Support; will the providers continue to offer support and onboarding material? Adoption is critical, and support can offer invaluable assistance toward securing it.

This step will offer tangible hands-on experience with your candidates. As such, due diligence here will help ensure that you choose the right CRM for your business.

Begin implementation and secure adoption

Finally, once you’ve settled on your final choice, you may proceed and begin to implement it across departments. For this final step, you should expend all available options toward securing user adoption, from continued training to supervision.

For one, Miller Heiman Group directly correlates adoption rates to final sales performance:

A graph on sales performance as related to CRM adoption.

Second, and equally crucially, most CRM shortcomings and failures typically occur due to human error and considerably low adoption rates. Nomalys notes that adoption rates remain low across all industries, as does research by Salesforce, the most prominent sales CRM today. Research by multiple other marketers and institutions, including IBM, Forrester, and CSO Insights also confirms these findings, quantifying adoption rates between 24% and 26%.


To summarize, the ample options the market now offers make CRM solutions more appealing than ever before. CRMs are still becoming increasingly powerful and focused, as well as more affordable than in past years. However, this same abundance of options makes it harder to choose the right CRM for your business and its needs. Hopefully, this step-by-step process will help you do so and ensure long-term growth.

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