There was a thread on the National Food Hub community of practice list this week about Customer Relationship Management tools (CRM’s). I added a response which can be used when thinking about any new tool, and thought it would helpful to post it here.
At Local Orbit we evaluate a lot of tools. When we are comparing different services, we come up with a list of questions to consider when deciding what provider to choose. Here are some things to consider when deciding which CRM to use:
- Are you looking for something to support sales or ongoing relationship management?
- How does your team currently work? Do you want the CRM to integrate with your email system, or do you want your team working from within the CRM?
- What other tools do you use and how do you want the CRM to work with them?
- What kinds of information do you want to capture? How granular do you want the data? How do you want to be able to search and find information as the quantity of data increases? (Think at least 3 years ahead.)
- Do you need user permissions, to restrict access to any functions or information to different team members?
- What’s the financial ROI you expect to see from a CRM? Will it increase sales? Keep your headcount down due to efficiencies? Help you manage and increase outside fundraising or media exposure? Etc.
Once you answer the core business process questions, there’s a list of specifics you can use to assess each CRM. In addition to cost, these may include:
- What’s the user experience? Will your team want to use it? Is it easy to set up rules to ensure that you’re capturing all the information you need?
- How much time does it take to get up and running as an organization – and to train new team members?
- What processes will you need to change internally? Is it a good time to modify any of your processes? Similarly, how can you set up the CRM to support and enhance your current processes?
- What integrations does it offer out of the box? Is there a marketplace of supporting services? Can outside developers create add-ons or integrations?
I have worked with with Nutshell, Capsule, Batchbook, Salesforce and a number of other CRM’s. Local Orbit currently uses Pipedrive, which best fits our current and future business needs. All of the services mentioned are worth considering, but I don’t recommend Salesforce for small organizations because of the complexity, the cost of training and onboarding, and the price tag (unless you’re a non-profit).
Tools like Hubspot and Marketo are also powerful – but they are focused on marketing automation, which is probably not relevant to most food hubs. They’re also expensive.
Our highest priority, when we make a decision, is simplicity and thoughtful design. Complicated tools or clunky user experience are very costly over time.