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5 things to look for when you’re choosing a cloud based CRM

We review dozens of cloud-based CRMs every year. Some are great, some are… less great. Thing is, the great ones always seem familiar. They share common strengths. Based on our experience, here’s a list of 5 ways to tell great CRMs apart from the rest.


1. Intuitive navigation. Software is only as helpful as the people using it. If you find yourself struggling to get things done inside a solution, imagine trying to launch it as a central piece of software for your employees. It’ll be an uphill battle. End-user usability should be a chief concern as you pick a CRM – don’t just focus on things managers like to see.

2. Extensive integrations. Great development teams know what their solution should and shouldn’t do. They’ll also integrate with other solutions to achieve functionality they otherwise wouldn’t have. In the case of CRMs, that means integrating with small business focused accounting solutions (like Xero or Freshbooks), helpdesk solutions (Zendesk), and, of course, Google Apps.

3. A+ support. Don’t just demo a solution – post on the forums and bug their support staff. Does it take a week to get a response? Forget it then – you’re implementing a vital software component and need (deserve?) top class customer service. Also, have a look at their partner page – do they have a network of 3rd party consultants who can help if you need additional support? It’s a good sign if they do. Dedicated partners means the solution is strong enough for other businesses to invest in.

4. Open APIs. “API” is nerd-speak for how solutions cooperate together. Great CRMs have an open API, making it easy for 3rd party developers (like us) to build our own integrations and add-ons. It’s essential, especially if you foresee building a network of applications for your business.

5. Frequent updates. Great pieces of software don’t stand still. Get a feeling for how often the software is updated (check the blog, updates page, or forum announcements). Is it more than once or twice a year? Are new features oriented with where your business is going? Be wary of software that isn’t being updated – it might mean the team behind it is working on other things.

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VM Associates is a New York City based cloud computing consulting firm. We help companies transition into newer, better, smarter software. Contact us to talk about your business, the cloud, and how we might help.

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Chris Bliss works at VM Associates, an end-user consultancy for businesses looking to move to the cloud from pre-existing legacy systems.

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