4 qualities to look for in a CRM solution partner

When it comes to CRM technology, your choice of solution partner is essential. Here are my top tips on the key things to look for when selecting a partner for your business.

Along with your choice of technology, your CRM partner is of vital importance when it comes to the ongoing success of your overall CRM solution.

As well as the ongoing implementation of your solution, you need a partner who can appropriately customise it to your specific needs, as well as work with you over time to ensure your solution continues to deliver the most optimal results.

According to Compare Business Product’s 2016 Customer Relationship Management Buyer’s Guide, “choosing a CRM vendor is as critical as choosing the right solution.”[1]

So, the following are my top tips on things to look for when selecting a CRM partner.

1. Certification and credibility

Perhaps most importantly, you need to choose a partner you know you can trust.

It’s vital that the technology partner you implement has specific experience in the technology platform you are interested in, or is aligned with it in some way.

If you’re implementing a Microsoft Dynamics 365 solution, for instance, you would obviously look for a Microsoft partner. Through the Microsoft partner program, technology firms receive official certification which indicates that they have met extensive requirements.

Data#3 is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner. Our relationship with Microsoft has existed for close to two decades, and we are Microsoft’s largest partner in Australia. Our team has expanded the breadth and depth of our capabilities to deliver solutions across software licensing and delivery.

2. Experience and specialisation

Choosing a partner with proven experience in your particular industry – or even the size or nature of your business – can also be very beneficial. If your partner has an understanding of the sector in which you are operate, they are more likely to be able to suggest best-practice improvements and features.

According to the 2016 Customer Relationship Management Buyer’s Guide: “each business is unique, but there are always some common characteristics that are associated with each sector… If the vendor in consideration has a track record of excellence with clients in very different industries, then the product may not be an ideal match.”[2]

The guide uses the retail outsourcing industry, as an example, as it has “lagged behind technologically when compared to other industries, and thus may struggle with the deployment of a cutting-edge SaaS CRM”.

Chris Bucholtz, Director of Content Marketing at Relayware, suggests you seek out consultants that have case study libraries that demonstrate their success.[3]

Marcin Malinowski, Head of International Services at Outbox, suggests getting references for the team members that are assigned to the project. “Ask for customer experiences and references – like purchasing any product or service, see what people have got to say,” he says.[4]

At Data#3, we always work in close partnership with our customers to ensure we are continually meeting your needs – especially in the initial planning phase. We start by comparing and validating third party CRM solutions – such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 – against your business and functional requirements. In doing so, we develop a ‘degree of fit assessment’, which measures how well your requirements map to the product’s offering.

3. Service Offering

Another crucial consideration is the level of service your partner will provide, and it’s important to think about service from start to finish. For instance, does your partner have the level of expertise and experience to correctly configure your solution, implement the solution, and then support it on an ongoing basis?

Can your chosen partner also provide training to ensure your people are able to adopt the solution and ensure a maximum return on your investment?

The 2016 Customer Relationship Management Buyer’s Guide suggests also verifying the vendor’s ability to maintain Service Level Agreement (SLA) clauses. “…it is wise to enquire about the adherence to SLA clauses. A SLA is often overlooked during vendor selection. Are the SLA clauses feasible? Are the vendors transparent in their ability to stick to these SLA performance levels? These are questions to ask,” the guide says.[4]

When considering service, think about what your business will mean to your partner organisation. Will you be a priority? Will they take the time to thoroughly understand your business? Can you imagine working with this partner long-term?

It may also help to ask, up-front, about how your relationship will be managed, and which members of the partner’s organisation will be assigned to your business. How often will you communicate, and how? And does this work for you?

4. Change management and training

When a new solution is implemented in any organisation, evidence indicates that effective change management – including training – is essential.

According to Accenture, “the benefits of effective change management transcend your business, improving adaptability and strategic agility, lifting success rates from transformation initiatives, strengthening stakeholder buy-in and commitment, and increasing speed of transition.[6]

When choosing a technology partner, ensure that your partner is able to provide guidance as to how best to integrate your technology, as well as sufficient and ongoing training – to help your employees understand the new technology and how they can get the most out of it over time.

Want to learn more?

If you’re interested in upgrading your CRM software or learning more about Microsoft Dynamics 365, get in touch.

We have offices, data centres, and configuration and warehousing facilities in operation across Australia. We also offer first-class technical, sales and support expertise, and have the experience and capacity to ensure our clients get the most out of their Microsoft investment, every time.

[1] Compare Business Products, 2016 Customer Relationship Management Buyer’s Guide, accessed 2 October 2017, <http://resources.idgenterprise.com/original/AST-0169130_CRM_Buyer_s_Guide.pdf>

[2] Compare Business Products, 2016 Customer Relationship Management Buyer’s Guide, accessed 2 October 2017, <http://resources.idgenterprise.com/original/AST-0169130_CRM_Buyer_s_Guide.pdf>

[3] MyCustomer, How to successfully select a CRM consultant, accessed 2 October 2017, <https://www.mycustomer.com/selling/crm/how-to-successfully-select-a-crm-consultant>

[4] MyCustomer, How to successfully select a CRM consultant, accessed 2 October 2017, <https://www.mycustomer.com/selling/crm/how-to-successfully-select-a-crm-consultant>

[5] Compare Business Products, 2016 Customer Relationship Management Buyer’s Guide, accessed 2 October 2017, <http://resources.idgenterprise.com/original/AST-0169130_CRM_Buyer_s_Guide.pdf>

[6] Accenture, Accenture CAS: Solution Implementation, accessed 2 October 2017, https://www.accenture.com/t20150609T205855__w__/us-en/_acnmedia/Accenture/Conversion-Assets/Microsites/Documents11/Accenture-CAS-Solution-Implementation-05-21-14-WEB.pdf>

Tags: Cloud, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Microsoft, Microsoft Dynamics, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Microsoft Office 365



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