CRM

10 Questions To Ask When Evaluating CRM Software

Apr 22, 2024

Prevent buyer’s remorse with this list of interview questions for CRM providers.

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Lauren SpillerSr Content Writer
10 Questions To Ask When Evaluating CRM Software

What we'll cover

Sixty percent of software buyers in our 2024 Tech Trends Survey regret a purchase they’ve made in the past 12 to 18 months.* Creating a list of interview questions to ask vendors before investing in new software can help safeguard against buyer’s remorse. It’s especially critical to do so for big-ticket software purchases that serve multiple departments, such as customer relationship management (CRM) software.

Here are ten questions that you as a CRM manager or software buyer should ask during discussions with vendors so you know exactly what you’re paying for. Along the way, we’ll weave in insights from our proprietary reviews and advisor call data [1-2] so you can better understand how these questions take the needs of your users into consideration.

Question #1: What are the features of the CRM software?

Learning about the features offered and matching them against your business needs is the first step in the software evaluation process. It’ll help you decide if the CRM tool meets the requirements of your business.

All customer relationship management tools include contact management, interaction tracking, and lead management features, and most share a variety of common features such as activity dashboard, calendar management, and email management

According to reviews left by CRM software users over the past year, the five most important CRM features are: [1]

  • Contact database: This feature lets you maintain a centralized database of customers and their contact information. It’s rated as a critical or highly important feature by 91% of reviewers.

  • Contact management: This feature allows you to manage, organize, and store customers’ contact information, such as names, addresses, phone numbers, and social media accounts. It’s rated as a critical or highly important feature by 91% of reviewers.

  • Lead management: This feature helps you store information about leads and contacts and track them through the sales process. It’s rated as a critical or highly important feature by 82% of reviewers.

  • Interaction tracking: This feature allows you to track customer interaction history by documenting conversations with contacts. It’s rated as a critical or highly important feature by 82% of reviewers.

  • Sales pipeline management: This feature lets you use the pipeline view to visualize, track, and manage the leads in your pipeline. It’s rated as a critical or highly important feature by 81% of reviewers.

Related questions to ask

Ask the vendor about features that directly help your organization achieve its CRM goals. Here are some related questions:

  • How does this tool allow me to visualize and track the movement of leads?

  • Which metrics does this tool automatically track?

  • Does this tool use artificial intelligence to deliver personalized customer experiences and/or predict sales? If so, how?

Question #2: What is the total cost of the CRM software?

If you’re like most small business buyers, you’re price-conscious and have a budget. Besides the subscription cost mentioned on the vendor website, you’ll want to keep in mind the several other indirect or one-time expenses involved in a software purchase. Implementation, data migration, customization, and customer support are just a few. Salespeople may not be forthcoming about these hidden costs, so be sure to proactively inquire about them. 

In terms of price, entry-level CRM systems can range from $10 to $6,500 per month. [2] Higher-priced enterprise products may include additional or advanced features such as unlimited workspace members, advanced customer reporting and tracking, and sales funnel creation.

Need something affordable?

If you’re working with a tight budget or prefer to try out a platform before buying, there are free CRM tools available as well as options that offer a free trial.

Question #3: Is the CRM software easily scalable?

It’s convenient to keep the same software as your business grows and changes. Ask the vendor whether the software allows you to add new users or remove existing ones as required. Also, inquire about the time it takes to add a new user and the discounts or benefits the vendor offers when you scale up.

If you expect your sales or customer service team’s headcount to increase over the next few years, ensure the CRM software you select can be scaled (up or down) easily and is also capable of accommodating future functionality needs.

Tip to scale sustainably

It’s not necessary for everyone on your team to have a personal user account—team members can share accounts if they won’t be using the software regularly.

Question #4: What level of support and training do you provide?

As a buyer, it’s only natural to expect the best customer and tech support from your vendor. However, vendors aren’t obliged to provide the same level of service to all customers. Customer and tech support levels vary based on users’ subscription plans, and some vendors offer premium support and training at an additional cost.

The table below shows what support and training options can look like in basic versus premium plans.

Support and trainingBasic planPremium plan
HoursMonday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.24/7
ChannelsEmailPhone, email, and live chat
AgentsRandom live support agent or chatbotDedicated live support agent
TrainingUser manualsUser manuals, in-person sessions, and video tutorials
Issue resolution timeWithin 48 hours to one weekWithin 24 hours
Other resourcesCommunity forumsKnowledge base, FAQs, and document libraries

When not to outsource

If your internal IT team is experienced in troubleshooting software issues, you may not want to pay extra for premium support. Instead, consider asking your IT team to collaborate on a training program for CRM users.

Question #5: Which integrations does the CRM software support?

Below are some examples of how tools used by your sales, marketing, and customer service teams can integrate with CRM software:

  • Pairing sales forecasting software with CRM data, such as customer preferences and purchase history, can result in more accurate sales forecasts.

  • CRM integration with marketing automation software helps optimize marketing campaigns by improving the way you track, monitor, and engage with prospects.

  • Email marketing integration with CRM software helps tailor email messages by providing insights into your customers’ communication preferences.

  • Integrating CRM with customer experience software helps personalize communications, create a consistent customer experience, learn more about customers’ likes and dislikes, provide attentive support, and more.

  • CRM integration with customer support software makes customer service data visible to all relevant teams so customers receive the same level of support irrespective of who they interact with.

  • Pairing accounting software with CRM helps access and manage customer data and financial information in a centralized platform. This process streamlines operations, reduces manual data entry, and minimizes the risk of errors.

  • Connecting help desk software with your CRM makes it easier to pull customer data into support tickets. 

The software must also integrate with your website and social media platforms, so data from web forms and browsers can be seamlessly collected for supporting marketing campaigns.

Avoid integration issues

During vendor discussions, state your integration requirements clearly and understand the vendor’s application programming interface (API) and custom integration policies so you don’t run into integration issues after purchasing the software.

Question #6: What level of customization can I expect?

Many cloud-based CRM vendors let users customize the software interface layout, create custom fields, add sales projects or tasks, and set compliance checks. Some CRM tools, like our example below, also allow users to establish custom workflows to automate tasks.

GA_04222024_10CRMQuestionsWhileEvaluatingSoftware-zohocrm

CRM solution Zoho CRM allows users to automate tasks using customized workflows

Keep cost in mind

Ask the CRM company what level of customization can be achieved with the software and if that would attract any additional costs.

Question #7: How long will it take to implement the CRM software?

Most cloud-based CRM solutions are easy to set up and require users to simply log in to an online portal. But you may want the vendor’s help if you have many users and their accounts need to be preconfigured with data from your existing systems.

Work with the CRM vendor to chart an implementation plan along with a detailed timeline that tracks deliverables. Some vendors may tie up with third-party service providers for implementation services. In that case, you’ll also need to inquire about the third-party provider’s role, reputation, charges, etc.

Save for reading later

Once you’ve implemented your new CRM software, how do you know if the investment was worth it? This article provides you with four signs to look out for.

Question #8: Do you offer data migration services?

Thirty-eight percent of prospective CRM buyers who call our software advisors are currently using spreadsheets or other manual methods to store customer contacts and information. [3] If you’re like them and are looking for ways to automatically import the data saved in your existing tools and applications, you’ll need migration services.

Ask the vendor whether the software supports data migration and if there are any migration challenges or data loss chances during the process. Inquire if there are any preliminary steps you’ll have to take to standardize your existing CRM data for a smoother migration. If your CRM data is poorly managed or organized, chances are you’ll have to pay a higher data migration fee.

Looking to DIY?

Data migration can be complex and time-consuming, but if you decide to do it yourself or with the help of your internal IT team, we recommend planning your migration in stages. Start by identifying critical data and applications to move first. Also, be prepared for potential hiccups, and have backup plans in place to minimize downtime and disruption.

Question #9: What are your data security and storage policies?

A CRM tool handles confidential customer information such as client addresses, payment details, and contact information. Double-check with the vendor about the security measures incorporated in the software to prevent breaches, hacking, malware, and DDoS attacks.

Ask questions about data center certifications (e.g., SOC II) and adherence to the GDPR, PCI DSS, and other global or local regulations applicable to your operations. Also, let the CRM provider know if you have any specific location preferences for data centers that’ll store your CRM data. 

Additionally, check the data storage limits offered in your subscription plan, and inquire about the charges for additional storage needed on a permanent or temporary basis. Look into the vendor’s data retention and backup policies as well.

Better safe than sorry

Consult with your IT security team to check if the vendor implements ample data protection measures. If you want to alter the terms and conditions of the software contract to add more provisions around data security and recovery, you can seek the help of your legal team.

Question #10: Do you offer native mobile apps, and which functions do they support?

Most CRM solutions offer a mobile app, but some don’t provide full access unless you upgrade to a premium pricing plan. Similar to software support, mobile app access can be limited per the pricing plan you’ve chosen.

GA_04222024_10CRMQuestionsWhileEvaluatingSoftware-netsuite

CRM platform NetSuite lets users work from anywhere at any time through its mobile app

During a CRM demo, ask the vendor to take you through their mobile app. Check for security features, update frequency, ease of use, and offline capabilities. Having a mobile CRM application with full functionality is imperative for your customer-facing staff and will allow them to get their job done even on the move.

Look for this mobile functionality

If the CRM you’re eyeing comes with a native mobile app, that’s great. It’s even better if the app includes an easily accessible dashboard so you can track events, calls, and tasks. Click here for CRM tools that offer both mobile access and dashboard capabilities.

Choose the right CRM tool for your team

Buying software is no easy task. It can take several months of research, discussions, and planning. With some foresight, you can steer your buying team away from the wrong CRM software.

Survey methodology

*GetApp’s 2024 Tech Trends Survey was designed to understand the timeline, organizational challenges, adoption and budget, vendor research behaviors, ROI expectations, and satisfaction levels for software buyers. The survey was conducted online in July 2023 among 3,484 respondents from the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, France, India, Germany, Brazil, and Japan, with businesses across multiple industries and company sizes (5 or more employees). Respondents were screened to ensure involvement in software purchasing decisions.

Sources

1. GetApp reviews data

GetApp reviews are collected from verified users for individual software products. All reviews are manually examined by our team of experts. During this process, our team verifies the reviewer’s identity, checks for conflicts of interest, and evaluates the review against our site guidelines. Reviews represent user opinion and do not represent the views of, nor constitute an endorsement by GetApp or its affiliates. For this report, we analyzed reviews from Feb. 28, 2023, to Feb. 29, 2024. Read more about our review verification process.

2. GetApp software pricing data

Only products with publicly available pricing information and qualified software products within the category are included in the pricing analysis. We summarize publicly available pricing sources including vendor websites beginning with the lowest monthly pricing (not including annual discounts) for packages that include the core functionality for the software category. We also list pricing for more advanced packages (per user, when available) that include these core software feature(s). Your company’s specific needs may differ, and final pricing will vary. 

3. GetApp advisor call notes

Findings are based on data from conversations that GetApp’s advisor team has daily with software buyers seeking guidance on purchase decisions. The data used to create this report is based on interactions with small-to-midsize businesses seeking CRM tools. For this report, we analyzed phone interactions from Feb. 28, 2023, to Feb. 29, 2024. The findings of this report represent buyers who contacted GetApp and may not be indicative of the market as a whole. [Data points are rounded to the nearest whole number.]

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About the author

Lauren Spiller

Sr Content Writer
Lauren Spiller is a Sr Content Writer at GetApp covering customer service and customer experience with a focus on customer acquisition through SEO. She has an MA in Rhetoric and Composition from Texas State University and has presented her work at the European Writing Centers Association, Canadian Writing Centres Association, and the International Writing Centers Association conferences.

She is currently developing content for a workshop series on SEO writing.
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