How to Select a CRM Implementation Partner

Congratulations! You’ve decided to begin CRM evaluations, and your company will be the proud owner of new CRM software in a few months. 

Once you select a CRM vendor, the hard part will be over, right? Well, not quite. The next challenge on your journey will be as significant — selecting the right CRM partner.

Select Implementation Partner

No matter which CRM solution you choose — whether it’s Salesforce, Microsoft, SugarCRM, Creatio, or another option — the actual value of the tool hinges on its implementation.

The integrator holds the key to turning your dreams into reality, no matter what your CRM vendor account executive may tell you or what you see in the demo. Every step is crucial, from configuration and data migration to training and ongoing support.

But it’s not just about an implementation partner’s technical knowledge. Their familiarity with your industry, company culture, experience with your business model, and seamless integration with your existing systems are equally vital factors.

Embarking on the implementation phase can be exciting and overwhelming, but with the right CRM partner, you’re setting yourself up for success. 

This blog post will delve into the essential aspects of choosing the perfect CRM partner to ensure a smooth and impactful implementation journey. 

Establish Your Selection Criteria

CRM integration partners come in various shapes and sizes. Their industry experience plays a pivotal role in ensuring they’ve previously encountered challenges similar to yours. 

It’s imperative to consider the specific needs of your organization and project. Do you require a partner with a global presence and on-site capabilities? 

Will extensive customization demand a significant availability of development resources? Begin by compiling a concise list of factors guiding your evaluation process.

Key partner factors to consider

  • Size
  • Company culture
  • Cost
  • Timeframe
  • Support services
  • Industry expertise
  • Geographic location
  • Global reach

Each factor holds importance and warrants thorough consideration to ensure a successful CRM integration. 

Where to Find CRM Implementation Partners

There are several reliable resources and places you can explore. Your goal is to Identify a shortlist of competent partners you feel worthy of interviewing. Beyond exploring prominent industry networks and online resources such as Linked and Reddit, try these first.

Account Executive Recommendation

Your CRM vendor’s account executive (AE) is an excellent place to start. Remember, they have already made the sale, so they don’t have a dog in this fight. 

Many CRM vendors measure and compensate the salespeople on customer retention — that means the AE has a vested interest in our implementation success. 

Moreover, the AE and their team are already familiar with your company and requirements, so they may be able to steer you toward an implementation partner they have seen perform well for projects like yours.

Team Member Experiences

It’s common in larger companies to find that your colleagues have been with other companies that have successfully implemented CRM. 

Put the word out and see if any of them have had a positive experience with a firm that delivered the expected results. There is nothing like a referral from a colleague or trusted advisor.

The Debrief

Prospective CRM Partner Debrief

In the interview phase, laying a solid foundation is vital. Share your company and project details with potential partners to guide their questions and responses. 

Attentive listening reveals their expertise through their questions and proposed strategies. 

CRM Switch equips its clients that adopt a new CRM with two essential resources — a CRM blueprint and a functional scorecard for partner orientation.

Prospective implementor debrief essentials

  1. Business Overview
  2. Requirements
  3. CRM Scorecard
  4. Current Setup
  5. User Stories

Evaluate Their Approach

Much can be learned from the approach proposed by your potential implementation partner. It’s essential to grasp the intricacies of their methodology – whether it’s rooted in a waterfall, agile, or an alternative framework. 

How well does their approach harmonize with your vision for the rollout? Delve into the composition of their projected project team. What will be the demanded resources and time commitment from your end? Do they hinge their strategy on local, regional, or offshore resources?

Seize this moment to scrutinize how they articulate their approach and assess their prowess as attentive listeners. Are they adaptable in tailoring their approach to align with your outlined requirements? 

Is their approach purely technical, potentially implying a lack of the business acumen essential for this undertaking? Their methodology and general approach carry information that can guide your decision-making process.

Profile The Partner

The better implementation partners demonstrate a clear focus on defined areas of practice and boast a profound understanding of their “ideal customer.” 

Delving into a partner’s profile is paramount to unearth the precise niche they are primed to serve.

This stage of CRM implementation partner selection involves a dance of queries.

Questions for a prospective partner

  • What defines your typical client profile?
  • How do you differentiate yourself?
  • What industry realms and niches do you primarily target?
  • Which customer/project dynamics seamlessly suit your strengths?
  • What scenarios might be less compatible?
  • Are your resources predominantly onshore or scattered offshore?
  • What are your in-house development capabilities?

Evaluate Their References

When checking references, it’s essential to be discerning. The initial references might be a tad biased, showcasing only the rosy side of the experience. 

We encourage our clients to request references from the vendor’s past customers whose experiences mirror your situation.

Seek out references for organizations that are

  • Similar in size
  • Operate in the same industry
  • Adopt a similar go-to-market strategy

This way, you’re more likely to glean insights directly related to your needs.

Don’t forget to inquire about the team members’ backgrounds who will steer your project. A quick visit to their LinkedIn profiles can be illuminating. This glimpse into their professional journey will clarify their expertise and suitability for your project.

Explore Intangibles

Indeed, there are additional factors to consider, tailored to the specifics of your organization and its operational landscape.

Additional factors

  • Have they demonstrated prior experience in successfully integrating with your current ERP or marketing systems, such as SAP or HubSpot?
  • Can they provide specific details on how they execute their training programs?
  • Do they possess the necessary resources to provide effective support worldwide?
  • What sort of post-go-live support do they offer? 

A CRM implementation partner is critical to turning your vision into reality, covering everything from configuration to support. Consider their technical expertise, industry alignment, and integration abilities. Set clear selection criteria, explore recommendations, and scrutinize approaches. 

Profile potential partners, evaluate references, and address intangibles like system integration and post-launch support. 

Your chosen partner will bring technical skills, business acumen, and collaborative energy, ensuring a successful CRM implementation journey.

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Let’s discuss a tailored path to success.

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