Today, Cloud CRM solutions represent 87% of the market, whereas, back in 2008 it was only 12%. On premise systems’ days are clearly numbered. That makes shopping around for a new CRM a lot easier. After all, you only have to look at the pricing page to figure out which features you need and the matching plan will tell you the cost per user per month, multiply by the number of users and voila: you know how much a cloud CRM will cost. 

In reality, it isn’t that simple. There are other costs that most CRM vendors will only tell you about later on in the sales process and they certainly have a big impact on the grand total. Let’s take a look at what they are.

Data migration

If you are stepping on the CRM ladder for the first time, your business has already collected a lot of data about its customers. Whether they are stored in a spreadsheet, on paper or in emails, you will want to take all this information across into your new CRM system. Whilst collecting information from Excel files and importing them into a database is fairly straightforward, a substantial amount of time might be needed to export your data from less database friendly sources. Whether your employees will take time aside to do it or it will be the vendors’ responsibility, there is an underlying cost, be it time or money.

On the assumption you are switching from an existing CRM to another, moving the data across the systems can either be easy, tricky or impossible. This will depend on the volume of data, the type of database they are stored in and the data fields. For instance, if your dataset includes fields which don’t exist in the new solution, those will have to be created to ensure no information is lost. Therefore, it is important to look out for custom fields capability, some functionality certain CRMs do not have and that, those who do, will often charge you to create them.

Implementation

Traditionally a very technical process with on premises solutions, the Cloud has turned implementation into a much more agile and speedy step of a successful CRM delivery. All end users need to fully use a SaaS CRM, is an internet connection and a web browser. There is, however, a few more things to consider:

  • Building customized dashboards
  • Creating documents and email templates
  • Consulting fees

A rule of thumb is you should expect to pay £1 on implementation for every £1 you spend on an annual CRM subscription. If you have a large user base and require the most expensive plan, it’s easy to see how these implementation costs can pile up rapidly.

Obviously, the size of a company and the complexity of its processes will escalate those costs in an exponential manner, particularly when looking at implementing the world’s leading CRM solution: Salesforce.

When talking to any CRM vendor, make sure those costs are unveiled at a very early stage as they might simply be the difference between a CRM your business can afford, and one that it cannot.

Integration

Nowadays, businesses use different systems to perform different functions. Unless investing on a fully customized solution, in the software world, one size almost never fits all. Understandably, the more those software communicate with one another, the better. Else, it leads to scattered data, which, in turn, is much more difficult to exploit and gain valuable insights from.

There are 3 ways integration can work:

  • Native built-in integrations between a CRM and other software such as accounting, ERP and other legacy systems is definitely the best setup, although some integrations have fewer touchpoints than others.
  • Open APIs are also something to look for as they make connecting various applications a lot easier.
  • Using third party connectors like Zapier or Integromat opens o broad range of integrations between 2000+ applications but their subscription model based on usage can rapidly become a non-neglectable cost of your CRM.

Customization

Because every business tends to be unique, an “out of the box” CRM solution might tick a lot of boxes but chances are you will want some modifications to make it fit your processes like a glove. Customization certainly comes at a premium as it involves both consultants to understand what needs to be tailormade and developers to tweak the solution to reflect these changes.

Not all CRM have customization capabilities, but it´s certainly something to consider when evaluating solutions. Indeed, in the long run, being able to modify the system will financially work out in your favor rather than scratch it all and start over again with a different solution.

Training

Training is a double cost in a CRM implementation. The first one is the vendor’s time to train your employees: the more complex the solution, the more time will be needed to get end-users to properly use the CRM and ensure a successful adoption. The same is true for the number of users: it’s easy to understand that the time/cost to train 5 people will be very different than to do so for 100 or 1000 users.

The second hidden cost around training is an opportunity cost. Training requires time during which employees will be diverted from their primary role. For admin staff, it can mean having less time to quote, invoice or chase overdue payments, whereas, for sales teams, time they are not spending visiting clients and closing deals.

Choosing a CRM solution like Xapsys CRM, that has been developed with end-users for end-users, will guarantee a next to zero training requirements. Its simplicity combined with contextual help, knowledge base, how to videos, guide tours and tooltips are here to ensure users can start using the software in a flash.

Additional Services

SaaS CRMs are traditionally sold in “plans”, three tiers being the most common offering. Extra functionality often means switching to a more expensive plan that will impact all users, regardless whether such functionality is needed by all or just a few. 

Others are a bit more “a la carte” where an array of options will stack up on your monthly invoices. These can be different CRM modules specific to certain functions, the number of contacts allowed, how many emails you can send each month or the amount of Cloud storage you have been given. When these thresholds are reached, many vendors will automatically bill you for extra blocks. Understandably, as your business grows, so will your contacts/emails and the volume of your data. It is therefore important to look ahead and have a long-term future cost of your CRM of choice.

Make a list of what you need your system to do and give it to the CRM vendors.

If a CRM doesn’t meet 60% of your requirements, you must look elsewhere.

If you can’t find anything that meets 60% of your requirements, you have a few options:

  • Build a custom CRM
  • Give up some “nice to have” features
  • Customize an existing CRM

Once you find a CRM that meets an acceptable level of your requirements, try it out. Most SaaS CRM vendors will have someone showing you a demo of the solution, prior to offering a free trial so you can test the system.

User Adoption

This is potentially the highest hidden cost of them all, like having paid for all of the above and ending up with a CRM your employees won´t use. 

User adoption is pretty much the definition of a successful CRM implementation, and, as such, the most important metric to consider. Did you know that approximately 63% of CRM projects fail, user adoption being the #1 cause to blame?

What goes wrong?

  • People fear change so, often, the bigger the climb a new system represents, the more resilience. Whether implementing a CRM for the first time or upgrading to a newer, more robust solution, assess carefully both the required functionalities and the learning curve they require.
  • CRM is not a solo project initiated by a department. Rather, it has to collectively involve all levels of your business, with a detailed highlight of the benefits for each function. Most of all, a “buy-in” from leadership has been found to be one of the key factors of successful CRM implementation.
  • Keep productivity at the core. Using a CRM involves time spent entering information in the system. Make sure the benefits are clear and easy to understand, and that the system does more for your users, than they have to do for the system. Else, they won´t use it. Period.

There lies the status quo of having paid thousands for a CRM nobody wants to use, and the perspective of scrapping it all and start all over again.

Conclusion

Understanding where the real costs are is key to keep your project on track. It will help you make informed decisions and asking the right questions to CRM vendors, prior to making your final choice. Not only your budget and deadlines will be more accurate, but you will be able to set expectations more effectively for the tool and deliver a CRM that solves the problems most important to your business.

At Xapsys, we have a transparent pricing policy as we believe it to be key to a healthy and long-lasting relationship with our clients. We go the extra mile too, and, in most cases will bear the cost of these numerous hidden fees.

Xapsys CRM has a 14days free trial. Try before you buy.

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