CRM

6 Things IT Teams Should Look for in a CRM

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Shabnam Kakar

Every company wants to build long-term relationships with their customers.

That’s why CRM is more important than ever—but not just for your sales team like most people think.

Someone is working hard behind the scenes to make sure your CRM is doing the most; that someone is your IT department.

When shopping around for a new CRM, it’s important to look at not only the frontend experience of it but the backend as well—can your IT team work with this?

Looking at all aspects of your future CRM will make sure your experience with the purchased product is as smooth as the demo.

What do IT teams want?

When IT teams think of CRM, they think of these things first:

  • Backing up data
  • Keeping up with software updates and hardware upgrades
  • Integration with other tools the company is using (and they’re likely managing)
  • Security

Based on these factors, something cloud-based is usually ideal because it means they won’t need to worry about hosting the platform, manually backing up data, or keeping up with system upgrades and security measures as they’ll automatically be taken care of by your chosen CRM provider.

While different teams use different software around the company, they’re all typically managed by the IT team (adding and removing users, editing user privileges and preferences, etc.).

Think of how many different types of software your company uses—that’s a lot of systems to manage.

That’s where integration comes in: the more of your company’s day-to-day tools integrate with your CRM, the simpler things become for your IT team (and the rest of your teams as well).

One login credential to remember > many login credentials to remember.

Most importantly, IT teams care about security. After all, they’re basically your company's digital bodyguards, so it’s important they have the right tools to safeguard your company’s data.

(For example, you can learn about how Copper keeps your data safe here.)

Choosing a CRM should be a collaborative effort.

While CRM is still often associated with being used exclusively by sales teams, the reality is that it’s used by many different teams.

Ideally then, choosing a CRM should be a collaborative effort—not one person’s call.

Some perks of company-wide CRM implementation are:

  • A relationships-first culture: A customer relationship-centric culture is instilled across all departments, which is vital for long-term business success.
  • Access to the full story: Everyone has access to all the details of individual customer experiences (a better informed staff = better customer experiences).
  • Efficient information sharing: Information is shared quickly and easily between departments.
  • One source of truth: All teams only need to refer to one place, versus searching through different systems and tabs to find data.
  • Volume discount: Some CRM companies offer a better volume discount for larger groups.
  • Fewer systems, less confusion: There’s less admin work for your IT team to worry about and more alignment across all departments since you’ll all be using one system.

Getting everyone’s buy-in is important to making sure your CRM will cater to every team. In the list below, however, we’ll focus specifically on what matters most to your IT team.

Here are 6 things your IT team should ask when evaluating CRMs for your company.

1. Cloud-based or on-premise?

Cloud-based and on-premise CRMs both have their pros and cons. The key is to figure out which solution is most suitable for your company.

On-premise CRM is generally more customizable, which also means they need a lot more developers on site to configure and maintain them.

(If you find the right CRM though, do you really need all those customizations?)

Cloud-based CRMs are hosted on remote servers which means that things like software updates, hardware maintenance and upgrades, data backups, and security measures are all handled by your CRM provider.

Less mess, less stress.

Plus, cloud-based CRMs tend to need fewer people to manage them, making this option a lot more accessible to smaller businesses and large businesses alike.

Maybe because of this, the use of cloud-based CRM is getting more and more popular, growing from 12% in 2008 to 87% today.

popularity of cloud-based crm vs on-premise crm

Cloud-based CRM is also more easily scalable, which we’ll go into next.

2. Is it scalable?

Picture this: your sales reps are exceeding their targets every month and your customer base has nearly tripled in size since a year ago. The growth is real.

Suddenly, your entire CRM crashes because it can’t handle the workload anymore. It wasn’t configured for this. Your IT team is scrambling to find a solution.

This is the potential result of not choosing a scalable system from the get-go.

Scalability means that your CRM is able to expand with your business—easily.

All the operations it can perform with a small client base, it should be able to perform just as seamlessly with a larger one.

Generally speaking, cloud-based CRMs are much more easily scalable than on-premise CRMs.

If your CRM isn’t scalable, you’re basically assuming that your business will not grow.

The last thing you’d want is for your CRM to feel strained—or even crash—if your business is doing too well because it couldn’t handle the incredible growth.

It’s important to look for a CRM that’ll serve you well for years to come, not just in the next 12 months.

3. What software does it integrate with?

If you’re using one software system to manage your customers, one to manage your invoices and payments, one to manage emails, one to manage your meetings—it gets hard to see the entire customer relationship in one place, which is kind of the whole point of CRM.

It means that to see the whole story, you’ll need to check every system. If you only have access to certain systems, you’ll only see part of the story. in which case, you’ll need to ask someone else to check certain details for you.

See the problem? This is neither effective, nor efficient, nor professional if you happen to be speaking to a customer while scrambling to collect all the necessary information.

Now imagine if all your different software apps could come together for all to see: that’s the beauty of integrations.

review of copper crm as seen on g2 crowd

The CRM you choose should be able to integrate with the different day-to-day tools your company uses like your email, accounting software, proposal documents, project management software, collaboration tools and more.

4. How much will it actually cost?

There’s the standard CRM licensing cost, which is typically charged on a monthly or annual, and per user basis. You can usually find this pricing information on a CRM provider’s website.

But is this the only cost?

Will any other fees pop up while using this CRM? If yes, what will the total cost of ownership be and is it within reason?

Here are some other hidden costs some CRM companies may charge you:

  • Storage: Check how much storage is included with the standard pricing. Is it enough? If not, how much do they charge for additional storage?
  • Support: Does the CRM provider offer support? Is it free?
  • Training: Will training be provided by the CRM company? Is it free or offered at an additional cost? Training costs also allot for the time it’ll take to train all your staff—the steeper the learning curve, the longer staff are away from converting customers, which is an additional cost in itself.
factors that go into total cost of ownership of a crm

5. Will this product be easily adapted by the rest of the company?

A concern with many CRMs is the steep learning curve and staff’s overall ability and willingness to adapt to the new software.

It’s important to make sure that your team understands why you’re getting a CRM—or implementing a new one.

This CRM should make everyone’s lives easier and help your business reach its goals. If its value isn’t made clear, both you and the rest of the team will have trouble picking it up or simply fail to use it properly.

This is also why it’s crucial to choose a CRM that provides initial training, real-time support, as well as ongoing support to ensure your business’s long-term success with the product.

You’re shopping for a tool to improve your customer relationships—pay attention to how much effort your CRM provider puts into creating a relationship with you.

6. Are the security and compliance measures up to standards?

Last but certainly not least: security and compliance measures are one of the top things IT teams should look for in a CRM.

Your CRM is where all your customer data lives as well as other confidential information, so it’s extremely important that this data is kept safe.

When evaluating CRMs, look for information about their security practices.

Are their security measures externally validated, or are you just supposed to take their word for it? Ideally, they should have the certificates to back it up.

Good certifications to look for are:

  • SOC 2-Attested Service Provider: This means their security protocols have been validated by an independent CPA auditing firm to ensure they match or exceed industry-best practices.
  • GDPR-Compliant: This means they’re compliant with laws that regulate how personal data of EU citizens is handled.
  • TrustArc-Certified: This means they are a Privacy Shield partner using industry-standard privacy measures to safehold data.
  • Privacy Shield-Compliant: This means they’ve been audited to be compliant with the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework, which was designed to align companies on both sides of the Atlantic on common data protection requirements when transferring personal data.

For example, here’s a bit of information about Copper’s certifications:

Before committing to a CRM, try some demos.

Most CRM companies offer free demos so you can take the product for a spin and see if it’s the right fit for your team before committing to buy. Take advantage of this!

P.S. You can try Copper for 14 days for free, no credit card required.