How to eliminate the need for costly CRM consultants Business & tech by MATT KEENER September 10, 2020 Getting a CRM or switching CRMs can seem like a highly complex and risky endeavor. That’s why midsize companies frequently hire CRM consultants to help with implementation, training, and ongoing support. CRM consultants possess intricate knowledge about particular systems, features, and integrations—knowledge that may not exist within your organization’s four walls. Of course, hiring a CRM consultant comes with its share of tradeoffs. Cost is certainly at the top of the list, as CRM experts are in high demand and, as a result, highly compensated. This article discusses the topic of CRM consultants and how to form a game plan for eliminating, or at least minimizing, consulting fees. Why are CRM consultants so costly for midsize companies? Midsize companies have customer data management needs that are similar to those of larger organizations, but with budgets that are considerably smaller. This means that every dollar of your CRM project really counts. However, when you’re spending the majority of your CRM budget on consulting fees, it’s hard to make traction toward your actual business goals. Here are just a few reasons why consulting fees can add up so quickly for midsize companies: CRM onboarding expenses Bringing in a consultant to document use cases, develop architecture plans, and serve as an independent advocate is a common starting point. You also need someone who can extract data from legacy systems, prepare data for import, configure custom fields, onboard users, and coordinate training. And, of course, all of these tasks require meetings—lots of them. Before you know it, the consultant has logged 100+ hours, which begins to rival the total cost of your first year’s subscription. Ouch. Ongoing expenses Consulting projects have a way of evolving into never-ending engagements. What seemed like a one-time setup morphs into an ongoing relationship. After all, new customer data continues to flow into your CRM. Someone also needs to stay on top of deduplication, record management, provisioning new users, offboarding old users, and ensuring everyone has proper access to the right data. Since you’ve already invested so much time (and money) into the consulting relationship, it seems logical to keep the consultant around to provide ongoing support, even though the hourly fees continue to add up. 5 tips for eliminating dependency on CRM consultants So, what are your options for minimizing dependency on costly CRM consultants? Consider these five tips: 1. Start with an intuitive, easy-to-use CRM Users and administrators want a system that is easy to use and manage. When you go against their wishes and select a CRM with a complex data structure and antiquated user interface, consultants become almost unavoidable. If you’re still in the consideration stage of your CRM selection process, take a few minutes and ask yourself these four questions: Do other midsize companies use this CRM? Is data management intuitive and customizable? Can we save money and improve efficiency? Will this CRM scale to align with our future growth? Then, look for a CRM that’s built for the exact needs of midsize companies and offers features that accelerate user adoption, such as: A modern, intuitive user interface Easy-to-use administrator tools Customizable data fields Integration to business applications that your company actually uses 2. Avoid shiny objects Go back and reevaluate your motivation for implementing a CRM in the first place. Take a CRM needs assessment to get your creative juices flowing. Is your primary goal to centralize customer data? Or, are you looking to scale sales operations and give SDRs more tools for prospect engagement? Identify your primary and secondary goals, then focus all conversations and resources around achieving those goals. Do not be distracted by features that, while interesting, do not support the mission. For example, if your main goal is to streamline the handoff between sales and operations, you should not spend much time worrying about APIs or custom objects. Rather, focus on the features that accelerate project delivery, such as automated workflows and record linking. You might be surprised by how much your in-house team can accomplish on their own once goals are clearly defined and understood. 3. Use every resource at your disposal Most likely, your CRM vendor’s pricing page lists every feature and service that you’re entitled to as a customer. (Your contract might include similar information.) Look for the expanded version and familiarize yourself with every resource at your disposal. Examples might include: Standard support services (i.e., email support, chat, etc.) Success plans that provide dedicated support and continuous improvement Online user communities Sample data import templates On-demand training resources Native integrations Self-help documentation (For example, here’s Insightly’s documentation site.) Go through the feature and service list to identify resources that could make the biggest impact on your CRM project. Make sure your team is also aware of these resources and references them often. 4. Continuously invest in your people Your team is a talented, diverse group of professionals. From IT to sales and marketing, your organization already possesses many skills that are necessary to successfully implement and manage an in-house CRM project. Perhaps they just need extra training or coaching to give them the necessary confidence boost. Believe in your people. Capitalize on their strengths and identify opportunities to help them develop new skills. In doing so, you’ll be supporting their professional growth while simultaneously establishing a new core competency for your business—one that’s far less reliant on consultants. Empower your team with modern and easy-to-use CRM, like Insightly CRM, that can drive up productivity, free up time for more creative work, and help your team reach goals. 5. Run the numbers on a CRM success plan If you’re still not sure how to eliminate costly consultants from your budget, maybe it’s time to consider your vendor’s CRM support and service plans. Although there’s a cost, such plans can be easier to budget for as compared to hourly consulting fees. In exchange for a predetermined amount, your vendor provides additional services to help your in-house team be more successful with your CRM project. For example, Insightly’s support plans include a variety of value-added services such as: Onboarding Admin and user training Phone support A dedicated customer success manager/personalized guidance Regular check-ins for continuous improvement Why not tap into the collective genius of the people who are developing and supporting your CRM software? Seems like a logical place to start. Get your game plan Perpetually relying on consultants to manage your CRM is a losing proposition. It’s time to take control and develop a game plan that maximizes the impact of each dollar invested back into your CRM. Explore Insightly and schedule a demo to get a free CRM needs assessment and see Insightly CRM in action. Request a demo Adoption | Measuring ROI | Sales process | Sales team | Unified CRM MATT KEENER Matt 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. 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