Friday, October 25, 2013

Selecting a New CRM - Some Good Advice

Given what I do as a membership marketing consultant with a background in Information Management, I'm often asked to give advice on selecting a CRM.  To that point, I read a great post on ASAE's Collaborate (Membership Section) by Paula Aviles, Membership Director for The Special Libraries Association (10/25/2013), which is worthy of repeating.

She prefaces it by writing that these are "Some lessons learned..."

TIME: It always takes longer than expected.
DEMO: Be watchful as it shows you what it can do, not how, so it may end up taking more time or staff hours then anticipated.
REPORTS: Most systems capture data. It's pulling it out "where things take a turn." Check the queries and reports and be sure that they are reporting the metrics YOU USE to communicate with your leadership.
HISTORY: What data points will it capture, maintain or discard/overwrite when updated?
TRAIN AND TEST: Make sure you allow for training and testing (all we need to do is look at what's happening with the health-care website to realize that testing BEFORE launching is essential).
LAUNCH DATE: Remember the first item mentioned - 'Time' so keep the launch date movable as long as you can. Yes, at some point you need to fish-or-cut-bait, but don't rush it.
This is for the MEMBERS: You're doing this for them.

This is what Paula advises and I think its pretty good. The only item I usually add is:

EASE OF ADAPTABILITY: Change is constant. What will our Association look like in 5 or 10 years and can this system handle the change? How many of us are paying the price with poorly constructed or operating websites because they can't interface properly with the CRM?

In summary, its about properly setting the expectations of leadership, staff and your membership.

Good luck and my sincerest appreciation to Paula for her great post and clarity of thought.

Erik Schonher is Vice President for Marketing General Incorporated. A sought after speaker and writer, he has over 30 years of successful experience in marketing to include associations, designing and implementing member acquisition and retention programs, research initiatives, promoting conferences and guiding leadership. To speak with Erik about your programs, you can call him at (703) 706-0358 or through his email erik@marketinggeneral.com .  

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