Every organization can benefit from a means to organize and track relationships. But like any important relationship, you don’t want to dive in blindly. Whether or not you have a customer relationship management tool in place, it’s smart to keep your options open.
When courting CRM options, there’s a few broad categories you’re sure to encounter, each with their own benefits and potential drawbacks:
The Brand Name – Expensive, high-maintenance, and proud.
- Examples: Salesforce is king
The Niche – This variety of CRM solution is built specifically to cater for your industry. A key here is to get to know which CRMs comparable organizations are using. If many or most of your peers use something specific, there’s a good chance they’ve found something that suits your needs. For instance, since the Drupal CMS is quite popular in the the non-profit community, these same non-profits might want a CRM that plays well with Drupal.
- Drupal CRMs: CiviCRM, CRM Core, RedHen.
- NonProfit CRMs: NeonCRM, DonorPerfect
The Fixer Upper – Cheap, sometimes free even. There isn’t going to be much automation and the features are going to be relatively low when compared to the brand name. But some of these tools are filled to the brim with potential. As is the case with even Brand Name Solutions, the secret to any CRM solution is that you get out only what you put in.
- ZoHo is a great example. Customizations can improve an already great product, but it’s great on its own.
The Custom Solution – This is basically the ‘going stag’ solution. Whether you’re working with a brand name, specialized niche solution, or a fixer upper, a general CRM framework works best when’s its tuned to your business model and the individual workflow of the individual(s) who will be using the finished tool.
But if your business model is unique? Well, then you might need a custom CRM built from the ground up. You might even be building your own software as a service (SAAS). Unless you have a talented developer on your team, you’ll likely need to pay a proven development team with experience in your general wheelhouse.
- A moderately to extremely customized CRM brand
- Your brand new and wholly owned CRM solution (Make sure you own it!)