A question that often come up is what things people should look out for if they’re looking for a CRM partner or someone to work with on a project. How do you pick who is right from the many people out there?
Your relationship with the team who will work with you on our CRM is vital so its a great question to ask.
Let’s start with language
The term ‘consultant’ is often a loaded one for many – perhaps not quite up there with tax inspector – but a word that challenges some. Your reaction to the word will be based on your own experiences (we’re all grown up enough to know there’s good and bad in all professions), and what you’ve heard from others. While you might engage a CRM consultant, we prefer to think of the term in a collegiate way – we’re the colleagues you haven’t met yet. And the term we prefer to use for this relationship is partnership.
There’s a really important point behind that for us – success is based on trust, honesty and integrity from both sides and in working together. Your project – be it CRM, CMS or anything else – is not one sided. Its your project, who you hire is there to help you and be on your side.
Its just like online dating (ish)
I’d like to say that finding a partner to work with on your CRM programme is not at all like finding a partner via an online dating site, but as I think about it, there are some similarities. Not the kind of similarities that cause the most entertainment and horror thankfully (though you might find the odd out of date photo on LinkedIn!) but a few all the same:
- It can take time – in the world of online dating, if you want a partner or long term relationship, you have to be committed to the search. You have to put the time in to search and find someone who is right for you.
- Find out what’s on offer – check out who or what is out there by doing research in all the usual ways. Google is your friend.
- Likes and Dislikes – let’s assume we’re not shallow and aren’t *just* interested in the photos or brand identity. When you dig around online you’ll find lots of info about what a potential partner is interested in, talks about and delivers. You’ll know if that is interesting to you or not and if there’s a synergy with your team and organisation.
- Gentle introduction – a bit of ‘this is who we are and what we need – who are you?’ will help you to find out how a potential partner replies to you – are they friendly and welcoming? Helpful? Do you like what you hear or read?
- First date – nothing like a date really, but you’re both trying to find out the same kind of things – does what I read match the reality? Do they know what they’re talking about? Is there synergy and energy? Plainly and simply, do we get along? Something to think about for organisations is that your CRM partner may pose difficult and challenging questions as your relationship develops – how do you think you’d handle that? That’s all this first meeting is really about – what are you looking for, what are we the partner looking for, do we get along and want to take this further.
- The ‘relationship status’ chat – once you’ve worked out if you can work with a CRM partner, it’s time to have the chat about the terms of the relationship.
Some would say it’s all a PR exercise, and to them, I’d suggest it might well be if:
Do all the R’s:
- Research – ask around, look around and listen to what’s being said about partners on the market. Find out what you can via You Tube, Google (other search engines are available of course!), LinkedIn and more.
- Reach-out – chat to a few likely prospects to find one you feel an affinity with
- Rationalise – be rational about your expectations. Is anyone really perfect? Are you? If there are niggles in your mind about a potential partner, ask them the questions so you can work them out and be rational about what you’re expecting them to deliver with you in the time and to the budget you had in mind.
Don’t do the P’s:
- Panic – you’re not the first organisation to be bamboozled by how to find a CRM or a partner to implement it. But if you have a clear goal and strategy it’s easier to find a system that will support you to achieve your objectives. Knowing what you’re looking for and why puts you ahead of the game already!
- Procure – don’t procure a system with tick boxes and paperwork. A tender isn’t likely to pluck something unexpected and perfect from obscurity for you. Quite the opposite in fact – because of the investment of time and effort in completing a paper exercise lots of supplier partners just don’t respond so you may miss out on a good match. Take the time to do some research and make some calls rather than relying on good people finding your RFP buried online somewhere. By all means, use a procurement process to satisfy all the boxes you need to tick – but after you’ve had some meaningful conversations with providers who have taken time to understand what you need and why.
- Pontificate – well, not too much. Procrastination is the enemy of action. The sooner you find a partner, the sooner you can gain the benefits of a new CRM to help you deliver your tasks and goals. Stay focused on the end result throughout – that focus will help you ask the right questions and find the right people to help.