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Choosing a CRM product: Does the industry and type of business matter?

What is the best way to go about choosing a CRM product? Does the industry and type of business matter when making a decision?

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When choosing a CRM product, the industry and type of business you are in will be major factors in selection. It is important to assess your business needs and requirements before you move on to evaluating CRM technology. For example, the pharmaceuticals industry has unique sales processes and unique ways of defining customers. In addition, this industry is highly regulated and requires secure complaint document trails. In this case, the sales processes that a CRM system would need to encompass would not be the normal out-of-the-box sales processes that CRM systems often embed – either a pharmaceutical-specific product or a highly proficient customization toolset would be necessary, as would a strong document management and auditing capacity.

The size of the company is also significant when choosing a CRM product. There are levels of sophistication and internal IT requirements that differ greatly depending on the size of a company. For example, a small company with a few dozen customers and two salespeople won't need a lot of dashboards or in-depth pipeline management functionality – that would be overkill. However, a large company would need highly scalable and sophisticated pipeline management functionality because they are managing hundreds or even thousands of salespeople.

All of this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to choosing a CRM product. I would highly recommend my book, CRM at the Speed of Light: Essential Customer Strategies for the 21st Century (this is the third edition -- a fourth edition will appear in late 2008) or Jill Dyche's book The CRM Handbook: A Business Guide to Customer Relationship Management.

This was first published in January 2008

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