How To Buy A CRM System?

How To Buy A CRM System?

As you probably know we specialize in a few areas, one of them is how buying decisions are made (our buying decision research unit is one of the best in the world) another is maximizing the sales impact of CRM. So, when the two combine – as was the case in a guest talk for Microsoft recently – we get particularly excited.

In an event to promote Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM to an invited audience of sales and marketing directors we used our knowledge of buying decisions and combined it with our knowledge of what it takes to make a CRM system implementation successful. Some of the highlights of the talk are presented here.

Buying CRM Ain’t Easy

CRM is a major investment – one that (given that disappointing rates of adoption are common) is not without risk. Time and again we see that a major part of the success of any CRM system is the way it is bought and how it is implemented. This is something that managers who compare feature lists searching for the best technological solutions often overlook.

‘…a major part of the success of any CRM system is the way it is bought and how it is implemented.’

So, how do you buy a CRM system? We took the audience through our Buying In 3D Framework (otherwise known as the How, Why and Who framework) to highlight some of the key success factors:


It is not a technology project, but a business project. It is not about technology, but about sales performance, sales productivity and change management. This must be reflected in how the decision is made – the steps and the stages involved in making the decision (that is the business decision, not just the technology decision).

The steps must involve plenty of discussion and debate thereby building a consensus about the best way forward. Above all the hard work begins once the decision is actually made – ensuring success in respect of implementation, adoption and benefit realization needs planning and “takes thinking time”.


Building the business case for the CRM system is vital – that is a compelling business rationale for the system.

The system has to be driven by a key business/sales imperative, it has to become part of the fundamental future vision of the sales organisation, as well as the success of the company generally.

Being very explicit about what CRM is required and what it is expected deliver makes sense, but it is all to often neglected. For example a report just published showing that in respect of the purchase of ERP systems only two out of 10 of Denmark’s largest companies prepared a business case and measured gains when the system came into use.

The rationale for CRM has to be something that each salesperson – the future users – can relate to. Whether it is saving 30 minutes a week on preparing reports, getting easy access to new leads, or being able to work remotely – users need to be helped to understand how they can personally (and perhaps even selfishly) benefit. This is key to successful user adoption.

‘We recommend dealing with the issue of project and technical risk head on…’

CRM like any major project has risk – there are lots of reasons the system might not be successful. We recommend dealing with the issue of project and technical risk head on, including the barriers to successful adoption. Common barriers and risks to adoption include: Poor training, limited data loaded before go live, over complicating the system, slow response times in the field, protectiveness of contacts, cynicism of the part of users, lack of leadership, a system focus instead of people and process focus. These risks and barriers need to be brought out into the open and dealt with in advance of implementation.

Also consider factors such as strategic fit, politics and compliance with respect to the why of the CRM purchase decision.

WHO Needs To Be Involved In The CRM Decision?

Key to success is to get everybody involved (Sales directors, sales managers, sales people, sales support staff, marketing , IT and finance) to consult and engage widely around why the system is needed, what data is needed, what customization will be required and what training and support users will need. Get marketing and sales involved jointly – as the system can provide a new platform for closer alignment between the two. The same applies to service and support.

As we have said already identify the barriers up front and profile users based on those who will struggle most.

If you would like to talk to us about maximizing the sales impact of CRM in your business please click here.