Blog/How to Avoid Rookie Mistakes When Choosing Your First CRM

Picking a CRM works the same way as choosing a flat that you want to live in for a few years. In both cases you can bet there are more options that you can reasonably review. In both situations you will settle with a suboptimal choice because there are no solutions tailored to your company exactly – unless you are building a CRM for yourself which is usually a huge, painful mistake.

I’m sure that I don’t have to explain you what does the CRM software do. Basically every CRM vendor wants you to think that having it is absolutely critical for your business success. Actually, they are 100% right.

Yet only 54% of companies had a CRM of any kind in 2015. That’s surprisingly low even though that number surely went up since then.

a link between sales and marketing team

CRM can and should be a link between sales and marketing team

I think that one of the biggest barriers in increasing market penetration with any kind of CRM is optimising any simplifying the customer discovery process. The biggest CRM provider – Salesforce – has only 19,7% of the global CRM market while over 50% belongs to the “other” category. That puts people trying to choose a system in a perfect state of paradox of choice, having so many options that they end up not choosing anything and sticking to Excel spreadsheets.

So how to choose a CRM and make it an easier, step by step process?

Note: if you are already using your CRM for 6+ months this will not work for you as you already know your requirements. Just keep looking or reach me at and I’ll help you choose a CRM for your sales team.

Never build for yourself

Every time I hear that someone is developing a CRM for their company (inevitably they complain about it) I tell them the same joke:

There once was a man who decided to visit a doctor with his condition.
The doctor asked him, “what can I do for you, sir?
The man replied, “Well doc, every time I do this, it hurts.
The man raised his hand and began tapping the top of his head.
The doctor looked at him with a founded look upon his face. “The answer is simple.
Really?!” said the man, desperately seeking a resolution.
Sure, just stop doing that!

Just don’t follow that path. Maintenance will cost you. Development will cost you. Integrations will cost you. It won’t be reliable. It won’t get better over time. Just don’t do it. I know that Amazon and that other company you have in mind did it, but that was a decade or two ago and software has eaten the world in the meantime. Just do yourself a favour and forget about that idea.

Now you have to discard as many solutions, as fast as you can. To save time start with binary yes-no questions.

#1 What’s the acceptable business model?

Let me tell you: it’s SaaS. The notion that you should pay 10.000$ or more for an implementation when you can pay for the licensing itself is nuts in 2017. Especially when it’s your first time and you are SMB. Stick to SaaS and save on upfront fees for implementations if that’s your first CRM. When you don’t know what are you doing (and you don’t, trust me) upfront costs are not a good idea.

#2 Can you afford it?

Price is one of the quickest things to verify when it comes to CRMs if you limit yourself to SaaS model. You don’t want to spend 10 hours on configuring your solution just to find out that it’s 3x of what you can pay. That’s why you should run elimination based on a price first. Planning the budget is really simple. Just answer the question: what’s the biggest amount of money I can spend on CRM in a year? For example, if you have 3 salespeople and CRM is 30$ per user, the price will be 12 months * 3 salespeople * 10$ per month = you can’t pay for the CRM more than 1080$ annually. Simple math.

Hint: don’t use free CRMs. Free usually means unsustainable business model meaning they can disappear and/or provide you with shitty support. Also: if you don’t pay you can’t complain if the service is down for 7 hours on a business day. There are no free meals.

#3 Do they have a mobile app?

Let me answer that for you – if they don’t, you don’t buy. Simple as that. That’s very important if you travel a lot. Or go to conferences. Or work outside the office from time to time. Or have a normal life. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it’s a must because salespeople and business in general is migrating to mobile more and more every day. You don’t want to miss out on that.

#4 What integrations are essential and which are good to have?

If it’s not available as a must-have, email the support asking if they have it in the roadmap in the next 3 months. If they don’t, discard that solution. If they will be great at point 5 it might be a good idea to wait for the integration.

#5 Define how important is usability and analytics
(hint: really important)

  • Flexibility and configuration – should be easy to configure and have zero or next to none constraints when it comes to reflecting your process. If you need to hire a developer to do it it’s probably not worth it and you should move on.
  • Define which metrics you’d like to know and measure and check if that’s possible within the solution.
  • Check how much time does it take to perform the most common tasks and how intuitive is it: add an activity, go through the steps from beginning to an end, add a note and so on.

#6 Pick 2-5 solutions that you will check out more closely

#7 Choose the best one

Remember that it won’t be perfect and you and your team will need to learn and adapt to it a little, especially at the beginning. You won’t love everything about it, that’s for sure. But as the old proverb goes, if you love everything about your CRM, than you just don’t know it very well.

Good luck!