CRM Consulting is a fundamental component of almost every business IT environment.
But CRMs are markedly complex — to implement, use, or customize — in a way that demands either a strong IT department or help from an outside service provider. Sometimes, that provider is the vendor themselves. Other times — especially where CRM is deployed as a company-wide solution — businesses choose to work with professional CRM consulting services.
If you’ve never worked with a CRM consultancy before, it can be difficult to know which firm will best align with your goals. We’ll explain what to expect from the process, what kind of CRM consulting services are available, and how to choose the best CRM consultant for your unique needs.
Companies managing a CRM project on their own often lack the expertise and resources to achieve maximum ROI (return on investment). Though complete CRM “failure” is less common in the current age, thousands of businesses fail to properly manage their CRM, to the detriment of productivity, efficiency, and even customer satisfaction.
Here are some of the most common ways that CRM projects go awry:
Choosing a CRM Consulting Service
Choosing a CRM consultant has a lot in common with the traditional job hiring process, except you’re evaluating a collective firm instead of an individual candidate. Obviously, you want a firm that’s good at what it does, but try to be more specific with your requirements. The firm you choose may work with your business for six months to a year — or longer in some cases — so you can’t be too careful.
Decide what kind of CRM services you need
Many consultants specialize in one specific CRM platform — xChange CRM , Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, and SugarCRM consultants are a few of the most common. Others work with multiple vendors and offer assistance during the software selection process. If you’ve already chosen a vendor, you’ll be best served by a firm that has an existing relationship with that vendor.
Make sure their strategy conforms to your needs
Take note of how each CRM consulting agency describes their action plan. Is it built around your business’s goals and success factors, or is it built to serve the agency? Are they trying to push a certain strategy or platform that they’ve used in the past, but doesn’t serve your interests? How well do they listen?
Exercise due diligence
CRM consultants should have a proven track record of success. Ask the firm for case studies of projects they’ve completed in the past. Look for projects that are similar to your current situation and in the same industry. Keep in mind, it’s easy for firms to pick case studies that paint them in a positive light, so you should also check references.
Know which specific consultants will be assigned
The representatives you speak with during initial interviews won't necessarily be the ones who work with you on the project. A larger firm may promise their “most highly trained agents” but fail to provide specific credentials. The consulting experience can vary significantly depending on who handles it, so it’s in your best interest to inquire further: ask for names, resumes of agents who will actually be assigned to your project.
CRM Consulting Categories
Not all CRM consulting services are created equal; most specialize in a particular aspect of CRM, such as systems integration, custom application development, or business process training. Some of the larger firms — such as Deloitte and Accenture — have the resources to meet a variety of needs across the digital business spectrum.