CRM Step 1: My secret to shopping for CRM software

Gone are the days of consistent mass marketing. Sending out mass emails or snail mailings, or calling on a large list of prospects with the same script is like an amateur throwing darts at a dartboard or a child pinning the tail on the donkey -- you might get lucky and hit the bull's-eye or the back of the donkey, but there is no guarantee that you will hit your mark.

Just like the child needs to get a feel for the donkey before he or she attempts to attach the tail, an organization will do best if they truly understand what it is their customers' needs or wants are. (See the Value Map for tools to uncover those customer pains and desired gains.) While this process can take some time, the most important part of obtaining information about your customers and prospects is having a secure place to host, organize and analyze that information for targeted business applications -- a concept often referred to as Customer Relationship Management (CRM). At the center of CRM, is the technology that manages the process.

Does the process of searching for the right CRM software platform make you sweat a little? Don't fret, there are several online tools for vetting the best. My favorite and most used resource is G2Crowd. G2Crowd provides business professionals with real time trusted peer-to-peer business software comparison charts and reviews. In addition, G2 Crowd compiles all the data from peers and experts and aggregated data and presents an indexed score for each competitive product on The GridSM. When I use G2Crowd to find the best CRM and Marketing Automation tools for my clients, I spend less time spinning my wheels sifting through disparate vendor resources outdated analyst reports -- it's as easy as shopping for a consumer product on your favorite ecommerce site.

Once you have obtained and setup your desired tools, you can now address and implement your targeted CRM strategy and database marketing approach. We'll talk about that in the next step.

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