7-step guide to selecting the right CRM system


#1 Deciding on CRM deployment

On-premise and cloud are two different deployment models. Once you choose the deployment option that is right for your business, your CRM search and evaluation will become much simpler.

The most obvious difference between cloud and on-premise solutions is where the data and software are kept. While on-premise software involves on-site servers, with the cloud solution your data and CRM software are stored on remote servers and accessed through the Internet.

With a cloud CRM in place, users do not need a service or technical expertise on their side. All they need is to simply log into the cloud-based CRM on their Internet browser and that’s it – you are ready to go. All crucial data is kept on the vendor’s server. The only problem here is that the user must be online at all times. And if the Internet connection fails, you won’t be able to access the data.

On the contrary, with on-premise CRM, the user owns the software that is deployed physically at his location meaning he has direct access to the servers. Another great advantage of the on-premise tool is that you won’t have to deal with recurring subscription payments. Users who decide to choose on-premise CRM need to have in-house IT personnel and buy all the necessary hardware and software, as well as incur higher upfront costs.

Cloud CRM

On-premise CRM


No software licensing costs

Control over systems/data

No new IT infrastructure requirements or servers. Data is stored and handled externally (in the cloud)

Data is stored and handled internally

Small cost for services

Needs dedicated IT staff for maintenance support

Low starting fee, but will cost more than an on-premise solution over time

The initial investment is high but pays off over time

#2 Ask for customization and training

Choosing a system that is easy to configure is always a good idea. Before making a purchase, ask how much it will cost to configure the solution to your needs and personalize training sessions. A good CRM software should meet your business requirements and reflect your sales process, your marketing strategy, and your customer service activities.

Training is one of the most important factors of smooth CRM adoption. It should be an on-going, user-specific experience so that everyone knows how to use the software to increase his or her efficiency. CRM training is aimed at showing not only how the system works, but also how everything is connected and how a user contributes to the general organizational workflow. Professional training is tailored to help your employees work together toward the same goal.

#3 Determine what features and functionality you need

Because every business is unique, committing to a set of standard functions is not the best decision you can make. What your business needs is a flexible CRM software.

Remember, as your business grows, so will your CRM needs. Make sure that the CRM solution you select can be easily upgraded. Usually, CRM tools come with many different functions that need to correspond to the requirements of a wide range of businesses. Nevertheless, why should you pay for the functionality you will not use? It has been proven that those business owners who buy CRM for the first time often overestimate the value of features they actually need. Don’t fall into this trap – be pragmatic.

Think whether everyone in your organization really needs all the sophisticated functionality a specific CRM provides? The same applies to the number of users in your organization. It usually happens that employees from different departments need different CRM features. Sales reps might need a CRM with a comprehensive sales set while your helpdesk might require only marketing-related functionality. Choose the CRM that can adapt to your specific business requirements. 

#4  Look for the system that integrates with other apps

Another good piece of advice is to look for software that easily integrates with other apps. Remember, you are buying CRM to help you streamline your business operations. Ensure that the tool you are going to buy integrates with the apps you have, including HR software, ERP, your own website, etc.  

Make sure that you are able to easily migrate your existing contact data into your new CRM. Fortunately, nowadays, most CRM software allow for importing data from other sources. Also, check whether you can export information out of your CRM software.

#5 Choose an industry-specific vendor

If you work in a specific industry, look for a CRM vendor who has worked with organizations similar to yours. First, we suggest you to study a vendor’s website – there you can get a good idea of the types and sizes of organizations they work with. You can also check the third-party review sites, such as Software Advice, Capterra, G2 Crowd for customer testimonials, references, and scores.

Vendor’s local partner network is another thing you need to consider. These days, most European organizations are looking for a partner to provide local support during and after the CRM implementation. If this is important to you, then look into the vendor’s partner network. Clarify whether the vendor has local partners. Also, determine whether these partners only implement CRM software or offer business consulting as well. Figure out how much CRM experience the local partner has, what their certification status is and how many implementations they have been involved in.

#6 Pay attention to UI

Another crucial aspect of selecting a CRM software is its user-friendliness and your experience while using it. If the software slows you down or irritates you, leave this option and look for an intuitive tool that seems appealing to you. Ignoring red flags when they appear will only cause more troubles down the road.

You can always ask the vendor to show you how many clicks it takes to do a specific task. The flow of actions should be logical. When you are watching a demo or testing out a new CRM, try to figure out how effective the user interface is. In addition to evaluating the UI, pay attention to ease of use. CRM experts say that user-friendliness is one of the most important factors in CRM adoption. Do not underestimate a simple, user-friendly interface – it will pay you off for sure.

#7 Ensure GDPR compliance

GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation. It is a data privacy law set out by the European Union in May 2018. GDPR consists of a long list of regulations for the handling of consumer data. It is tailored to help users align existing data protection protocols all while increasing the levels of protection.

With GDPR, your customers’ data and where it is stored is more important than ever before. Having a GDPR-ready CRM helps you manage customer data more effectively. A scalable CRM will save you time and resources, instead of manually removing the customers’ data from the database. Without GDPR-specific features, you run the risk of failing to comply.


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