Selecting a CRM for Marketing: Definition & Selection

Instructor: Tara Schofield
Are you considering selecting a CRM? There are some important factors to consider when choosing a CRM program. Use the suggestions in this lesson to make good decisions about your new system.

What Is a CRM?

A customer relationship management program (CRM) is a tool for gathering and organizing customer information. A CRM is a tool for managing details about your customers, analyzing data related to sales and marketing activities, and reporting results. There are a broad range of CRM systems, from a small easy-to-use system, like Quickbooks, to a massive program that has the potential to manage millions of records, like Oracle.

Let's imagine you own a plumbing and heating business. You have several employees that offer commercial services to business customers. You also offer in-home service that provides heating and cooling services for private individuals. The biggest part of your business is your retail store, which offers products and services for your clients. You need to keep track of your various clients, your vendors, and manage details of your business. You realize you need a system to manage the details and help you gather information for marketing and growth. Let's look at how you decide upon which type of CRM to select.

Factors Affecting CRM Selection

A CRM is an investment and requires research to ensure the right system is selected. Switching systems will require resources, including time, money, and system upgrades. It will affect your business operations and how you interact with your customers and vendors. Spending time up front to make sure the new system is what you need is important to the success of the implementation. Let's take a closer look at the factors you should consider before selecting your CRM.


A CRM system can run from hundreds of dollars to hundreds of thousands, depending on the size and function of the system. As you evaluate systems, understanding the price will be an important factor to ensure you don't buy more than you need but that your system will be large enough to meet your needs. It's a serious investment and one you don't want to have to pay for multiple times. Make sure you make it right the first time.

Your plumbing business is doing well, and you have about $10,000 to invest in a CRM system. As you start to investigate options, you realize you can easily spend $100,000 on a system that has a variety of bells and whistles. However, as you narrow down the systems to those that are in the $10,000 range, you become more focused in your options and look for the systems that will fit your business needs and financial limitations.

Business Objectives

The CRM systems have a wide variety of options that may or may not be appropriate for your business. Before you even start looking at systems, consider what needs you have in your operations. Do you need easy access to what customers have purchased for several years? Do you want to analyze sales extensively? Do you want to review in-depth reports? Understanding what you need and what goals you need your system to support will help you as you research and narrow down systems.

Your business management team has created a list of information each person wants to track and analyze from the new system. You collect the data and create a spreadsheet that allows you to analyze each potential system based on what features you need. This helps you to evaluate the systems more effectively to see which CRMs are the best fit for your needs. Those that don't have the features your management team needs can be eliminated from the potential system.

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