4 common CRM assumptions & how to tackle them Sales by MATT KEENER August 18, 2020Oftentimes C-level executives are the ones calling the shots on selecting a CRM, even though they’re rarely the ones who use the system on a daily basis. As a result, CRM decisions are frequently made based purely on vendor name recognition rather than business fit.As a CRM power user, this puts you in a difficult spot. On the one hand, you need the best CRM technology to successfully perform your job. On the other hand, disagreeing with your boss (or your boss’ boss) is not an enviable position.This article offers tips for using data and real-world evidence to challenge flawed assumptions about finding the right fit for your CRM tech stack, while recognizing the political dynamics of a company.Assumption 1: “Users just want leadership to make the decision”This assumption wrongly presupposes that staff do not possess the proper experiences or perspectives to participate in the CRM decision-making process. After all, selecting a CRM is a multifaceted endeavor that impacts numerous departments and teams. It’s understandable why leadership would view this as a strategic decision that requires a top-down approach.How to challenge this assumptionStart by volunteering to participate in the conversation. If you never offer, your leadership team may not think to ask for your opinion. Gently reaffirm the importance of the decision at hand. More data is better than less data, and you’re certainly an excellent source of it. You possess invaluable firsthand knowledge about your legacy system. You know its challenges and have ideas, backed by data, for overcoming them. True, you may not know what other departments need, but you definitely know what your team needs. If you receive continued pushback, point out that there are several approaches for selecting a CRM and that a hybrid approach, which harnesses the collective genius of leadership and frontline staff, has been documented to work well.Assumption 2: “Bigger is always better”Choosing the most well-known brand in any product category is tempting for the risk-averse executive, especially when multiple executives are involved. Executives are competitive people, and they don’t want to face future embarrassment for today’s bad decision. Therefore, selecting a big-name vendor often presents the least amount of perceived risk. If the solution is good enough for the world’s largest and successful companies, then surely it’s good enough for your company. Right?How to challenge this assumptionDo your homework and come prepared with data-driven insights that support your perspective. If you feel that a niche CRM vendor better aligns with your company’s unique needs, prepare an executive summary (one to two pages) that concisely explains why. Ideally, the executive summary should contain statistics from objective analyst reports (for example, Gartner, Inc.) that speak to your product category, revenue size, and user base. Develop a side-by-side matrix that compares how your preferred vendor stacks up against the big-name alternative.For example, if you’re a midsize manufacturing company with 150 users, your comparison matrix might look something like this:To enrich your quantitative data, collect reviews and case studies from customers in your cohort group. Using third party testimonials and use cases increases your chances of success with leadership.Assumption 3: “Emerging vendors can’t compete on features”At face value, large technology companies should be able to deploy useful features faster than smaller competitors. Vendors with tens of thousands of customers have massive cash flows, allowing them to hire more developers and make aggressive acquisitions. In reality, however, the larger a company becomes, the harder it is to move quickly. Layers of bureaucracy and a tendency toward risk aversion create opportunities for innovative contenders to develop better solutions and capture market share.How to challenge this assumptionYou might not be able to convince leadership that smaller tech vendors are more agile than larger, established brands (even though they often are). Instead, a better approach focuses on the impact that certain features will have on meeting your company needs and growing revenue. Go beyond feature talk and orient the conversation toward the end result. Why does your company need a CRM in the first place? Is it to grow your business, reduce cost, maximize productivity, and/or grow revenue? Whatever your CRM goals are, they are not going to be about a vendor’s 22-page feature list.Spend time to identify and agree on the features that actually align with your CRM goals. Then, get to work understanding how usable those features are by requesting a free trial. As pointed out in a recent Insightly survey, usability is a major reason why companies switch CRMs. It’s therefore important to find a healthy balance between feature availability and usability.Assumption 4: “Sales and marketing data must live in two separate, yet integrated systems”Which came first…the CRM or the marketing automation system?Although we may never discover the answer to this question, many executives have grown accustomed to having one system for sales and one system for marketing, creating artificial walls between sales and marketing. Therefore, consolidating into a single sales and marketing platform that serves both functions is, for some executives, a difficult concept to imagine.How to challenge this assumptionThere’s a lot of chatter today about the customer journey. Use this to your advantage. Provide leadership with helpful content that reaffirms the importance of developing a cohesive journey for each relationship—from initial interaction all the way through renewal.To get you headed in the right direction, check out Insightly’s series about how to create alignment for the buyer journey. Also, begin evaluating vendors that provide sales and marketing under one roof. Insightly’s platform is a good place to start.Advocate for the best CRMYour voice is important to the conversation. Be bold and share your opinion. Use data and real-world evidence to help your cause. It’s time to advocate for a better CRM that meets your needs, helps you do your job, and, ultimately, makes your company (and you) more successful.Looking for additional resources to help you make your case? Check out the articles below:How to do a CRM needs assessmentGo beyond features when comparing CRM vendors5 reasons why companies switch CRMsHow to select a marketing automation system: Here’s a checklist Adoption | Sales & marketing alignment | Sales Force Automation MATT KEENERMatt Keener is a digital marketer and President of Keener Marketing Solutions, LLC. In addition to consulting for Insightly and other SaaS clients, Matt enjoys blogging about remote work. Get Matt’s top-rated book or connect with him on LinkedIn.