How to Choose the Right CRM System

a tablet on a table, with an overlay of graphs, networks, and text saying 'CRM'

There are a number of off-the-shelf customer relationship management (CRM) systems to choose in the market, and I get a number of queries from my clients about them, as part of my CRM implementation services. They want to know how to choose the right CRM system for them.

These are sizeable B2B businesses – companies wanting 20, 30, 40, or more people using a CRM system to start with – and they want to know if a generic software is better as it’s quicker to implement.

My answer? Quite frankly, no.

Off-the-shelf CRM systems are fine for simple businesses with a small number of people, offering simple products. These companies can take a generic product, and adapt it to their company and the way their system’s structured quite quickly and easily.

But, for most B2B businesses, this is not feasible.

Finding a suitable CRM system, off-the-shelf, is not like taking Office 365, sticking it on your laptop and figuring your way around it.

What Do You Need to Choose a Suitable CRM System?

My suggestion is, before going out to buy the first product you find, you need to know what to look for in a CRM system. This means mapping your processes out properly, including answering questions like:

  • Where do the leads come from?
  • How do we convert them?
  • How do we structure our projects?
  • What information do we want to capture?
  • How do we want to structure it?
  • How do we want to view the captured information?
  • How do we want to handle the leads?
  • How do we integrate it?

Without this information, you will find it difficult to choose the right CRM solution for your business.

If you are prepared, these questions will already have been answered. If not, this will help you stop and assess your operations and best practices, which is an important step if you want to achieve success.

Once you have understood and mapped out your processes, you will be in a better position to choose a suitable CRM system for your needs.

Finding the right CRM depends on your business processes - a faded image of two people in front of a screen, with cogs overlaid along with text saying 'business process'

What Are Your Options?

The good news is, there is a myriad of CRM systems out there, and the number keeps growing month by month.

Some of these, you might have heard about, like:


Salesforce is an integrated CRM system that brings together all your departments under one solution. It is extremely scalable, can be installed on mobile devices for those who work on the move, and gives you excellent analytic data.


Dynamics is a CRM offered by Microsoft. As with Salesforce, you get integrated operations for your business, and active insights to make better decisions.


Zoho CRM is a relatively new CRM product that allows you to effectively market to your customers through omnichannel communication and automation of repetitive tasks.


HubSpot provides a complete set of software solutions for marketing, sales, and customer service. Plus, it’s free.

There are many, many more to choose from.

With such a vast variety available, you might need somebody to help you choose a suitable CRM solution for you. If you have the help of someone experienced in what works and how best to go about it, it can save you a lot of time and money.

Another thing you need to be aware of even after you’ve chosen a system is configuration. It’s all about configuration.

Even with off-the-shelf CRM systems, you can’t just pick it up and put it on your laptop. You also need to configure it to the requirements of your process (which is why that was so important!)

The problem is, I have never known anybody with a sizeable business implement a generic product successfully in less than six months. Personally, I once did it in four months, but it was for 20 to 30 users, including training, and that was pushing it.

People may think, when choosing a suitable CRM solution, that if it’s off the shelf, it’s going to be quick and easy.

It’s not.

If you haven’t got the expertise in-house, you need some help with it. It is a minefield, so it’s best to get guidance.

If you’re looking for someone to help you choose the right CRM system for your business, get in touch.

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