Before businesses begin to look for a CRM solution, cost is a very important factor to consider. There is no point in even considering a product that is beyond your budget. Also, with the abundance of CRM products on the market nowadays, it is always a good practice to narrow down your choices as much as you can right from the beginning. Cost is one such factor that you can decide right from the start, since it is determined externally to the product itself.
However, it is not immediately obvious what the “cost” of a CRM is. Every CRM product lets you know about their pricing, but it is a gross oversimplification to take the “price” as its “cost.” The price of a CRM is, at most, part of its cost, and there exist many other variables that add to the cost of implementing a new CRM solution in your business. In almost all cases, the actual cost would be greater than the price of a CRM quoted on its website. Let’s understand how and why.
First of all, this discrepancy between price and cost arises because of simple mathematics. CRM vendors normally quote their prices “per user per month” so assuming multiple users will be using the product, which is sensible since CRM software allows advanced collaboration and exponentially more benefits when used business-wide, the cost per month will multiply depending on the number of users that will be engaging with the product.
Apart from this semantic difference between the two, there are other factors that cause differences as well. One of these factors which you encounter early on in the process of procuring a new CRM is the cost of resources, like time and employees, invested in researching for viable CRM solutions for the business. Getting a CRM product is a crucial decision for a company that requires proper research and discussion with the vendors, and not all of those discussions result in successful deals, which means that you will most probably engage in fruitless discussions with vendors who turn out to be a bad fit for your business. All of this elongates the process and, naturally, adds to the costs of investing in a CRM.
Once the research phase is over and a decision has been made, more factors come into play that add to the cost of your CRM. There are various costs associated with things as basic as migration of business data to the CRM product to as complex as training employees and setting up new processes across the business that incorporate the CRM into the daily workings. The exact costs associated with these tasks depend on your vendor. Some vendors may provide complimentary data migration as well as basic training, while others charge an additional fees for these supplementary services, while yet others do not provide these services at all and leave it up to the customer to set things up. So it is important to be sure of which services your business would be needing and which you can handle internally, and communicate about this with your vendor. Similarly, it is also important to attain a precise figure about the total cost for the services you request so that you can incorporate that into your budget and make an informed decision accordingly.
Once a CRM is implemented and incorporated into your business and employees are trained to use it- a process that is easier said than done- there are yet other costs to consider that result from a CRM solution. These include costs associated with maintenance of the software, sorting out any bugs that may arise, and any resources wasted due to software downtime resulting from either internal technical failure or external failure from the vendor’s side. Again, to forecast these costs, communication with the vendor is key. One should be aware of the software uptime, if any, that they guarantee and the level of customer support they offer. This is another factor where practices vary widely between different CRM vendors so open and honest communication is the best policy. It is important that all of these costs are forecasted as precisely as possible beforehand and incorporated into the budget for the CRM to pre-empt any ugly financial surprises for the business in the future.