CRM consultants: the pros and cons

It is a big step and a large investment when companies invest in a CRM system so the question is, should you go it alone or enlist the services of a CRM consultant?  The truth is there are pros and cons whichever way you decide to go, so let’s take a look at some of them.

Identify your position

If this is your first CRM system, then things are actually simpler as you will not have reams of data to transfer across. Switching from one CRM to another involves much more, so the first thing to do is decide which category you fall into.If you fall into the latter section, using a CRM consultant may be advisable.  However, don’t fall into the trap of using the consultant from one particular CRM company as they are bound to promote their own; always go with a consultant that is independent of any particular CRM and are therefore more likely to provide neutral information.

So let’s assume that you are migrating from one system to another – in this case you should consider using a consultant as they will have plenty of experience and training and will have worked with clients in the same position. They will not only make the migration much smoother but will be able to work closely with your sales and marketing departments in order to ensure they make use of all features available, including the less obvious ones that are not immediately apparent.

Saving time and money

As well as having the know-how and ability as to how to fine-tune the new system, a good consultant should save you time and money.  Even taking into account their fees, you will save on implementation hours as they will work a lot faster.  With a vast field of knowledge, CRM consultants should also know exactly which third-party bolt-on will work and which will not; you will not waste time researching products that will not work and the final result will be far more efficient.

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You should also not ignore the negotiating power than an outside consultant brings with them.  If management are hold back or not supporting things that need to be done, they are in a much stronger position when it comes to politely telling the powers that be what is what and getting decisions made.

Hire CRM consultants carefully

One thing you need to be wary of is hiring a CRM consultant on an hourly rate basis.  This can create an open-ended wallet that some, but not all, consultants may take advantage of.  Better to ask for a fixed price to get you to a certain point and then if you need more time later, this can be tackled as a separately priced project.

Choosing a consultant by recommendation is always a good move and try to find one that does not specialize in just one or two systems; you need someone with a broad range of product knowledge that can look at what your company needs and supply it.  Beware of consultants that come to you with one system in mind and then shoehorn your company into it, forcing it to fit.  This can be disastrous later on; a waste of money and ultimately you will not be getting what you need. If your consultant has worked with other companies within the same industry sector and they have had good results, put them onto your short list.  Also don’t be afraid to ask for testimonials.

Some companies make the mistake of using a CRM consultant to get the CRM up and running and basic user training completed and then dispense of their services.  Always remember that if you have the budget available, they can spend some time with staff afterwards and look at how they are using the CRM in real time.  This can pick up a lot of errors, putting them right and enabling the system and the staff to work together in perfect harmony.  The fee to cover this should not be fantastically high and you should end up with some big improvements being made.

In summary, using a CRM consultant can be a very good idea but only if you consider the pros and cons in advance and do all possible to ensure that you are using the best consultant suited to your needs.  Let the wrong one in and you may end up paying for it long after the consultant has departed.

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Jane Tareen

About the author…

An MBA-qualified professional, Jane specializes in all kinds of copywriting and creative content production. With many years spent working in advertising and publishing, she is also skilled in editorial production and proof-reading. Whilst writing, she has a constant companion in the form of one very large Fox Red Labrador!

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Jane Tareen

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