Tag: Buying

Are you buying the CRM the right way?

Are you buying the CRM the right way?

There has always been a hell and a heaven difference between consumer products and software application purchase. While the former has had a run-of-the-mill selection process, software investment has been a long-planned one. However, with time, the line between the two has got blurred.

In the words of Charles Tatum – ”although CRM buying process is different than buying consumer products, the fact is that even in CRM selection, most business entrepreneurs are falling prey to sales hyperbole. And the best example to substantiate this fact is the list of LinkedIn’s top ten sales buzzwords released in 2013. Although all of the terms are generic-based not specific to any particular industry, it’s not hard to imagine how these terms are being used ubiquitously to sell CRM. ”

How is the ever-presence of buzzwords influencing CRM selection?

The excessive use of catchphrases by CRM vendors has already started affecting CRM software solutions buying process. Reportedly, it has become a common denominator among most CRM software providers to pitch their products with buzzword-rich lingo. In fact sales reps are specifically trained to explain their CRM packages using a fair share of product jargons. And unsurprisingly, majority of business decision-makers get easily carried away and select a CRM not entirely based on their organizational needs.

What can the businesses do to evade this predicament?

Experts recommend a careful planning and evaluation process as the best way to avoid falling into the trap of fancily-worded CRM feature sets. Once an organization takes time to develop a comprehensive CRM plan and strategy, it will develop a list of core features and functionality to evaluate each CRM vendor. In sum, it will have a clear picture of the type of CRM application required.Business entrepreneurs or for that matter business decision makers will become less susceptible to being influenced by marketing and sales overstatement.

For those about to embark on, or currently in the middle of the CRM evaluation process, below enlisted is a few recommended steps:

1. Hold a session with End Users

This is a no-brainer. If you want your CRM investment to be a productive one, it is essential that the CRM application gets used across the organization. And this can only be possible if the CRM solution is selected addressing the needs of both management and end users.

Explaining this context better, Mark Johnson states -Remember that customer-facing employees spend all their time interacting with customers/prospects in one form or the other; which is why they have a comprehensible idea of the inefficiencies and user pain points with the current organizational systems. Consequently, they can cite them before you and also suggest creative solutions which can be included in the CRM.

Benefit: the management can become aware of customer dissatisfaction arising out of organizational inefficiencies which otherwise would have remained in the dark.
Also, prioritizing the opinions of the end-users will definitely make them feel important. Resultant to which, they will act as active CRM participants once the CRM solution is rolled out.

2. Consider your Budget

Small or big, local or global: irrespective of the size and nature of the organization, budgetary concerns will play a major role in the selection process. However, unlike 5-10 years back when CRM was primarily considered a privilege for the large MNCs, the CRM market now supports enterprises in both camps. Thanks to the technology of cloud computing that has put a full stop – to the series of trauma small and medium-sized enterprises had to face after deploying on-premise software applications.

Now with cloud-based CRM applications, there is literally no headache of servers, storage, disaster recovery, networking capabilities and an in-house IT staff. Not to forget the annual maintenance fee and integration cost which also goes out of the window.

However, stating that cloud-based applications are embraced only by the organizations facing financial limitations will be wrong. Gartner, Forrester and Ovum – all three have released several reports which has cited the rising number of large companies employing cloud-based applications because of advantages such as reduced labor costs and hardware requirements.

3. Vertical Market Requirements

Most renowned CRM vendors have gone deep into vertical markets by creating industry editions. You too can look for such CRM vendors who specifically design and develop a CRM solution suited to your industry type. Opting for customized CRM software holds specific relevance for industries that –

* Deals with unique forms of customer data
* Customers use a non-standard path to buying
* Use of channels (resellers/distributors)
* Need to manage different tiers of communication, namely – customer relationships with partners, direct customers and so on.

In any of the above-mentioned scenarios, it is advisable to choose a customized CRM solution tailored to yourvertical industry.

Experts recommend scheduling tailored presentations. You can pre-brief to the prospective CMR vendors about your organization’s current state and desired future state. Based upon your company’s functional areas and the roles within it, they can put up a customized demonstration of their solution.

To increase their chances of selection, most of the vendors will put up a complete picture as to how their solution will solve your organization’s most important business issues.
Note: Most likely, a single presentation will not be enough for you to finalize upon a vendor. A subsequent technical session will be helpful to ensure that the benefits of the solution can be visualized and understood in relation to your organizational loopholes.

4. Vendor selection

Post a thorough analysis, the last thing you’ll want is that your vendor over-promises you and ultimately under-delivers. Or worse is not able to support you in the future. This is precisely why it is of unequivocal importance that you choose a reliable CRM software provider.

Following are a few of the steps you can execute to zero in on the right CRM vendor:

* Examinevendor’s track record
* Check in with the vendor’s references. Ask if the CRM implementation was genuinely transformative. Inquire about the CRM vendor’s role in it.
* Research in social media about the reputation of the vendor.

Paul Anderson is a CRM consultant based out in California. For over five years he has been offering CRM solution for SMBs. During this period he has observed what works and what doesn’t work for companies. He brings in his wealth of experience on CRM customization and solutions to his writings on blogs. He is an avid reader and enthusiast blogger and engaged with many online communities. He also loves outdoor sports and often goes fly fishing with fellow enthusiasts. Follow him at Twitter: @paul_corelynx

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Buying Car Insurance? Shop for Best Car Insurance Quotes and Save Money

Buying Car Insurance? Shop for Best Car Insurance Quotes and Save Money

The right kind of car insurance will take care of all the expenses that you might incur in an accident or major breakdown situation involving your car. Considering its importance, you absolutely need to make sure that you select the best insurance plan for your car so that you get the optimum financial support in times of emergency.

Whenever you shop for a car, whether brand new or used, just make sure that you also search for the best and cheapest car insurance quotes offered by different auto insurance companies. It’s like looking for particular features while buying a car that suits your lifestyle as well as your pocket. While buying car insurance, too, you have to choose from among different types of insurance covers for your car depending on your requirements and needs.

The ideal place to hunt for some of the cheapest car insurance quotes is obviously the internet! There are thousands of auto insurance websites featuring several types of car insurance plans at attractive premium rates. You are sure to find one that complements your budget and necessity.

While surfing the net for cheap car insurance quotes you can log on to various websites that provide you with many free, instant insurance quotes from different competitive auto insurance companies. In this way you can compare several quotes simultaneously and select the best deal, thus saving a lot of money on your car insurance. You just have to fill up a form online specifying your insurance requirements and other necessary details and within seconds you can view several insurance quotes together.

Many states and many other countries require your car to have basic liability coverage. But you will also need additional financial cover to meet extra expenses whenever required. So you have got to select the right kind of car insurance package that will financially protect you, your family and your prized asset – your car.

A liability car insurance plan provides the following coverage:
* It will cover only the person(s) named in the insurance policy, his/her spouse, legal or foster children, as well as relatives living in the same household and directly related to the person whose car is insured. However, a car thief who steals your car by chance will never be covered.
* Such a plan covers only named vehicles, added vehicles and temporary vehicles.

Other common types of car insurance plans include:
o Collision Insurance
o Comprehensive Coverage
o Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
o No-fault automobile insurance

You obviously don’t want to put a dent in your pocket paying hefty annual premiums against your car insurance. The premium rates that you have to pay to insure your car are highly variable depending on several factors such as:
– The driving record of yourself and other closely related family members, especially your kids and your spouse.
– The car model
– Your marital status
– The state where you reside
– Regional weather conditions
– Local car repair and maintenance costs
— Your age
– Your sex

If you are looking forward to saving money on your car insurance schemes and lowering the premiums then make sure that you follow these guidelines before buying your insurance.
* Maintain acceptable driving records. Drive safely maintaining speed limits. Do not drink and drive.
* Compare car insurance quotes from at least 3 different companies before buying the insurance to save money.
* Consult your insurance agent and gain information about which cars call for high rates of insurance premiums. Buy a car that will suit your needs but wouldn’t require very high premium rates.
* Check out discount insurance packages permitted in some states and offered by some insurance companies.

So for a tension-free and safe driving experience get hold of a car insurance plan that will share the risks of driving and provide adequate financial coverage in case of car theft, accident or repair.

Get a quick and easy car insurance quote now.
A 10-Step Guide To Buying CRM

A 10-Step Guide To Buying CRM

You’ll find this guide to buying customer relationship management (CRM) software in two parts: Know Yourself and Know Your Requirements. Know Yourself will ensure you that you take the details of your business into the purchase decision. Know Your Requirements will help you match what you need to the products and services available. Both sections are important since customer CRM connects to all aspects of an organization.

I. Know Yourself

Buying CRM starts with the question, “Why do I need a CRM solution?” Many CRM projects fail because that question is never asked. With that in mind, here are four steps that will help you provide an answer and prepare your organization to evaluate CRM solutions.

Step 1. Look At Your Business

Develop a thorough understanding of how your business really works. Not how it should work or how you assume it works. Take this opportunity to map your business processes, their dependencies, and how changes to those processes can affect others. Begin with processes that aren’t working well. These will correlate with areas of your business that can be improved and help you identify those that can be addressed with CRM. Process mapping will also reveal processes that work well. These processes may not need to be changed, but changes to other processes could affect them.

The evaluation that accompanies process mapping requires total honesty, which can bruise feelings. The objectivity of a third-party consultant can help minimize the dissension this might cause. A consultant can also reduce the internal resources needed to conduct process mapping.

At the end of the process mapping exercise, you should have a list of processes and activities that can be improved with CRM.The mapping exercise could show that your business isn’t ready for CRM or that the problems it faces can’t be solved by CRM. This is valuable information to have. Making the jump to CRM too early or for the wrong reasons will result in frustration and dissatisfaction.

Step 2. Pick The Right People For The Team

In addition to executive leadership and IT, enlist a group of front-line users to participate in the selection process–and listen to them. Not only will this ensure that you understand what users want and think is important, it will help accelerate adoption among their peers once a solution is chosen. Too often decisions are made about CRM applications without input from the people who will use them.

Step 3. Know The Regulatory Environment

It’s also important to take into account how information systems impact your ability to satisfy compliance requirements in your industry. Regulatory bodies vary in the restrictions and procedures they mandate for how data must be stored and managed. Solution delivery methods such as software as a service (SaaS) may not be appropriate in certain industries because they rely on a shared services model.

Step 4. Understand How The CRM Delivery Model Will Impact Your Budget

On-premise CRM software requires companies to own or lease the technology infrastructure–servers, storage, backup and recovery, and networking capabilities–and to provide the personnel who maintain it. There are also software license costs, maintenance fees, and integration expenses. Cloud-based SaaS software uses infrastructure provided by the CRM vendor, and while there may be integration costs, the software licensing expense is paid as a monthly subscription per user.

Certainly, smaller, cash-strapped companies often use the cloud. Likewise, larger companies with IT resources frequently use on-premise. But there are many exceptions to that general rule. More and more large companies employ cloud-based applications because they shift hardware requirements and the installation of patches and updates to the vendor. Conversely, smaller companies in fields where regulation makes the cloud problematic elect on-premise solutions.

Now You Have A Framework

The first four steps give you a framework to make a CRM selection that addresses your problems while creating a minimum of new ones. The framework includes:

* A list of processes and activities you need to improve

* A CRM decision-making team that includes users

* A knowledge of the regulatory constraints that may influence your decision

* An understanding of how the CRM delivery model will affect budgeting

II. Know Your Requirements

What is a good CRM solution? A solution that fits your business. Features are part of the equation, but more important are business considerations such as stakeholder interests, budget, support, integration, and industry demands. You also want a vendor that will work well with your organization over the long haul.

Step 5. Integration Requirements

Whether you plan to use CRM as a departmental solution or across your entire organization, integration can add significant cost and delay to a CRM implementation. So it’s wise to make ease of integration one of your preliminary criteria. Even if you have no immediate plans to integrate, a solution that’s too rudimentary or too complex to integrate with existing systems will almost certainly cause problems eventually–problems that will be expensive to fix.

Step 6. Support Requirements

No matter how adept you staff, they’ll need some degree of help with the CRM product you choose. Knowing their level of sophistication will help you determine how much, which is important since levels and costs of support vary from vendor to vendor.

Use your social network to find peers who have employed support from CRM vendors. They can be a source of unvarnished opinions about this important area. When you’re comparing vendors with similar capabilities, how they stack up in terms of support–cost and responsiveness–can be a deciding factor.

Step 7: Vertical Market Requirements

Are you in an industry that collects unique forms of customer data or in which customers negotiate a specific, non-standard path to buying? If so, there may be CRM solutions tailored to your industry. Purpose-built CRM applications have been created for insurance, real estate, agribusiness, non-profits, and others.

Companies such as resellers or distributors may need to manage tiers of customer relationships with direct customers, partners, and customers who buy from partners. These companies often buy CRM and find it ineffective. A related technology, partner relationship management (PRM), could be a better option for these businesses.

If your market does have unique demands, don’t forego a look at horizontally targeted CRM systems. They’re often more flexible than purpose-built solutions and, with the right customizations, may work better for your organization.

Step 8: Feature Requirements

Good CRM solutions have the same basic features. And features that are rarely used shouldn’t drive purchase decisions.

Feature selection is where the process mapping exercise proves especially valuable. In that exercise, you identified business problems you needed to solve or activities you wanted to improve. Look for features that map to those areas. For example, if you want to incorporate social media into your CRM strategy, look for a solution that can link with social networks to offer an expanded view of the customer relationship.

Listen to your front-line users on the selection team. Allow them to identify things that will make their jobs easier and use those ideas to guide decision-making about features.

Step 9: Financial Requirements

By now, you probably have several solutions in mind. It’s time to decide which of these is most affordable. As stated earlier, costs will vary depending on the delivery model. For example, on-premise software may carry an annual maintenance fee of 22 percent or more. Assess the full initial cost of your CRM candidates and their projected annual costs. Solutions that don’t fit your budget can be scratched from your shortlist.

Step 10: Vendor Requirements

When you think you’ve found the right CRM solution, examine that vendors track record–and do it independently. Vendor’s cherry pick their references so they may not reflect the majority of buyers’ experiences. Again, social media can be useful here. Ask whether a CRM implementation was genuinely transformative and, if so, what role the vendor played in that. You should also learn something about a vendor’s financial stability. Once you’ve made your selection, you want to be sure the vendor will remain in business to support you in the future.

Getting It Right

The road to buying a CRM solution contains multiple decision points where your business requirements intersect with what the market offers. Take the time to make informed decisions. Even if your company decides against implementing a CRM solution, the evaluation process can improve efficiency and be the catalyst for a more customer-centric approach to business.

Chris Bucholtz is Editor in Chief of CRM Outsiders, a founding editor of both InsideCRM and Forecasting Clouds, and a recognized influencer in customer relationship management. To find out more about how to empower your employees with Social CRM please visit http://www.sugarcrm.com
Web Site Hosting – What To Check Before Buying

Web Site Hosting – What To Check Before Buying

As the Internet becomes more popular, people’s trust in online shopping is increasing so reliable web site hosting is needed to reinforce that trust. Consumers will not continue using companies who have web sites that are slow loading or are constantly having technical difficulties and down time. A growing online company could see that growth stop and then disappear due to that sites unavailability for lengthy periods because of server issues. The choice of a reliable web site hosting company is then imperative.

Online companies along with individuals will want to select a reliable web hosting company that also offers great customer service, fair and competitive pricing plus first class management. There are several areas you need to consider when looking for a reliable web hosting company. If you are seeking quality and reliability you will want to do a some research before you make your final decision.

When you are ready to start a web site either for business or personal needs, you need to find a reliable hosting service. The reason for this is because that will be the place you keep the web pages for viewing by consumers and possible business clients. If you are just starting with an online presence either as an e-commerce venture or even as an individual you want to first understand the basics of web hosting. A server is a computer that gets the requests for pages or files from the Internet. When someone types in a domain name a server somewhere is accessed. It then shows the requested pages or files to the computer requesting the information. Another way to look at a reliable web host is, they are a landlord renting you space on their computer to others. You then have a choice between shared hosting or dedicated hosting. The difference is evident in the name. A shared host shares it’s server with more than one client and a dedicated host has one client on it’s server. Dedicated servers normally are used by e-commerce sites that require a large amount of space disk space and more personal management plus cost a little more.

The number of companies offering internet services is growing on a daily basis so it is becoming quite competitive. Some offer inexpensive monthly prices, some even offer free hosting. Free may sound good, but remember, you get what you pay for and with free services, it generally means unwanted third party advertising. In general a free web host does not have the quality of customer service a paid reliable web hosting company would have. Cheap shared hosting means you are sharing with others including some sites that you may not wish to be associated with. Many have technical issues that may include down times which could have a negative effect on your new business. These should all be considered before buying your hosting service.

Paying more for a reliable web hosting company is a better option. You want to make a good entrance into the web and if you are already established you want to keep your appearance and your clients experiences positive. Another issue to think about is future expansion. A reliable web hosting company can offer a multitude of services and packages to grow as you do. When choosing a reliable web hosting company think of it as a long term business arrangement.

Before starting an online business, find out what features you are going to need for your online business. This not only in regards to the web site, but to other aspects such as budgets, what you want to accomplish, short and long term goals. All these factors need to be considered. Sit down with other companies about their relationships involving several different reliable web hosting companies. This will give you an idea of where to start looking.

We mentioned budgets which most start up businesses need to deal with. A word of caution here, a reliable web host may not necessarily be the cheapest but you will get what you pay for. Reliable web hosting can be found at a price to fit just about every imaginable budget.

Want to find out more about web site hosting, then visit our site and discover more on how to choose the best hosting package for your needs.