Getting set up with the right CRM platform helps users manage customer data, supports sales management, delivers actionable insights, and integrate marketing efforts to holistically enhance the productivity and efficiency of your organization. However, after evaluating the myriad of CRM options, it can become abundantly clear that not all CRM platforms are created equal.
Finding the solution that best fits your organization can be a daunting task. As you sift through the features and integrations available on each off-the-shelf software, looking at options like Salesforce, you may find that the perfect solution does not exist.
The more you evaluate these options, the more you begin to realize it looks like none of the existing options cover your company's needs. If you are beginning to consider whether a Custom CRM is right for you, consider this article your primer.
Deciding on a CRM solution for your company is an important step in maximizing the efficiency of your sales and marketing budget. From costs to anticipated usage, weighing your options is an important aspect of predicting the future. Salesforce is a common off-the-shelf solution and is a good benchmark when comparing to a custom software solution.
Any CRM purchase decision focuses on three categories: design and complexity, price, and integration. We will be comparing off-the-shelf solutions, such as Salesforce, to a custom CRM platform. Here are three things to consider.
Custom CRM Design and Complexity
A large commercial solution like Salesforce has pre-built paths that your sales team will need to learn to use correctly. Salesforce has a generic set of rules and funnels that you can apply to any sales process. You’ll still need to customize names, forge connections, and build reporting. All of these are accomplished using an administrator you’ll need to train to build out anything that is specific to your business.
You can also hire someone to do this for you. With a large number of turnkey solutions, you can easily pick a solution, if you’re willing to adapt your team to these processes.
A custom solution has more flexibility, but takes a bit more thought when implementing. You can build very fast, very simple data entry processes (or have them automated), or you can set up a series of inputs which lead your salespeople through a consultative sales process. For owners and executives with a custom sales process, a custom solution allows you to tailor the software to your needs.
How Expensive is a Custom CRM Solution?
A custom solution can have a larger upfront cost, as you design a system that works as you do. This cost should be amortized over time, which means dividing that cost by initial price, maintenance, and the number of users over the time you plan to use the CRM.
Often the specificity of the custom CRM means that additional areas of value are available over traditional out of the box options. When calculating total price, the relationship between upfront cost and long term value is vital to understand. Once the Custom CRM is built, you are free to enjoy it’s benefits indefinitely without incurring significant additional costs.
On the other hand, Salesforce can be purchased on a per-user license, or based on the size of your company, with a set-up or customization fee. The initial cost is usually lower than the custom option, depending on the number of users, but maintenance and upgrade fees should be built into and considered with those prices.
Salesforce final costs are almost always higher than what they appear on the surface. Additionally there will be added costs for further customization or making updates as your company grows. Often you will be paying for services and features your business doesn’t need or would never use that are a part of the larger suite.
Finally, Salesforce costs money for as long as you use it, and the longer your company is a Salesforce client the more dependent you will become on it. Over time, as your team grows, it can become a significant cost to carry.
You’ll need to calculate the true cost of both systems over a reasonable period of time, which will depend on your capital budget and revenue projections. A company built for sale will have a short window to compare costs, while a company built for growth will want a longer window of comparison.
Salesforce has thousands of applications that are designed to tie into their CRM. When selecting your solution, the advantage of built-in ties to your financial, accounting, and payment solutions can seem very useful. In your decision tree, you’ll want to look for popular integrations that tie in with your off-the-shelf sales process.
A word of warning: in selecting multiple app integrations, integration with an app with a smaller user base may leave you with a solution that stops working with no support. The same can occur with a merger or buyout of a popular application or changes in the Salesforce API.
The custom solution requires regular maintenance, but if something doesn’t work in your back-office integrations, you’ll know how to fix it, as it’s your software. When deciding on a build your own model, consider the importance of flexibility and reliability over convenience.
Conclusions and Recommendations
There are advantages to off-the shelf softwares and custom solutions. It’s best not to be taken in by the similarity of the marketing terms (for example, both decisions discuss the ease of customization to fit your needs). The focus on what you want the software to do, when you spend your marketing dollars (upfront versus ongoing licenses), and the decision on what your CRM needs to tie into for your company backend are the primary drivers.
Salesforce is a large and successful company, and many businesses rely on it, but just because it is the biggest does not mean it is the best fit for your business. Take the time to really explore the long term costs, benefits, and fit of your CRM.
When deciding, keep an eye to the future. A custom software is owned by the company and prevents yearly price increases, but can be difficult to manage in a merger. An off-the-shelf solution is easy to start with, but over time, is often customized to the point where it is as complex as the software you would have owned without any benefit of ownership.
Your decision ultimately comes down to your capacity for risk and your unique sales culture. Do you need customization, or convenience? For honest discussion on whether to build a custom application, get connected with one of our software development experts at Code Authority today for a free project consultation.