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Consultant help for CRM software evaluation and selection

Paul Greenberg discusses the benefits of using a consultant during a company's CRM selection process in this expert tip and gives advice on what to look for in a consultant.

What's your take on using consultants for a CRM evaluation? We're trying to decide if it's worthwhile to hire someone to help with our selection process, or if it makes more sense for us to evaluate our options in-house, since we know better what we need. We are just not sure if we have the time to devote to the evaluation process ourselves, since many of our employees are already stretched thin with other commitments.
I'm huge on bringing on consultants for the CRM evaluation. But there are a number of things to consider. First, on your side, whether you have a clear strategy, program for execution of that strategy and the culture change associated with it and thus the processes that need to be changed or added or eliminated to make you a customer-centric company. THEN it's time for evaluation of CRM applications/services.

If you had a consultant to help you with your strategy, then work with them or someone they recommend so that there...

is continuity in the thinking and collaboration between you and the existing consultants and anyone new. If not, and you developed all those other items on the agenda in house and know what they are, bring in a consultant who not only understands features and functions, but has relationships in the industry and understands the companies that are providing the CRM technology. As I've said since day one in CRM, "When you buy the applications, you buy the vendor." Plus, a consultant who can work with you to understand what you're going to need will also be able to work with the companies to get you the best deal possible both in price and in relationship.

Yes, you do know better what you need, but a consultant knows better how to get it and who provides it, so there is a good marriage there. I would stick to a consultant who knows not just the technology, but the players at the companies and how to access them.

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