CRM selection in a team meeting

CRM Selection: How You Can Find the Optimal Solution in 6 Steps

Are you looking for a suitable CRM system for your company? Then you may have already noticed that this can be a challenge. There is a huge variety of CRM systems on the market. This can make the CRM selection very tiresome.ย 

Whether a CRM software is right for you depends on various factors โ€“ for example, your company size, your industry, and the workflows for which you want to use the software. 

Of course, it's not just about the processes of today, but also how digitalization will change your sales, marketing and service operations in the years to come. 

Smaller organizations can select a simple off-the-shelf CRM system that combines the basic functions in a standard software package. Medium and larger organizations, on the other hand โ€“ especially those in the B2B space โ€“ usually require powerful and customizable software with features that are tailored to their business processes.  

 If your organization meets any of the following characteristics, then customizations usually need to be made:

  • Your company doesn't have just one location, but several ones โ€“ possibly even with different languages, time zones and currencies.
  • You don't only offer products from stock, but also use Configure to Order (CTO) or Engineer to Order (ETO) with complex offers for plants or machines.
  • You not only sell directly, but also through distribution channels such as retail, ecommerce or franchise partners.
  • You don't only have transactional business, but also long-term and individually conditioned framework agreements.
  • You have a complex after-sales, spare parts or service business.
  • You don't just want to use traditional sales or service, but in the future you also would like to benefit from digital sales channels and digital marketing with a 360-degree view of the customer.ย 
  • But the CRM selection process doesn't have to be complicated! In this article, we show you how to define your requirements and find the right CRM provider in just six steps. 

Modern CRM systems offer extensive analytics and reporting capabilities.

CRM Selection: How to Choose the Best CRM Provider for Your Business

Step 1: Define the Target Groups

In the past, CRM systems were primarily intended to capture only customer data โ€“ hence the term Customer Relationship Management. However, modern CRM solutions also offer Any Relationship Management (xRM). This means that, in addition to potential and existing customers, you can also capture and process data on other actors that are relevant to your processes โ€“ such as suppliers, partners, or competitors. 

For example, if you add your suppliers to the system, you can document all actions and activities related to them - from initial contact and contract negotiation to contract settlement. For instance, your service department, which also works with the system, can then use information on the quality of the products supplied to evaluate suppliers and, if necessary, adjust ordering behavior.

Step 2: Engage the Future Users

Consider which employees and departments in your company will be working with the software. Involve them in the CRM project at an early stage to find out what requirements, ideas and wishes they have with regard to the new system. 

The saying "Asking questions is the first way to begin change" also applies to the introduction of a CRM system. The two most important questions for this stage of the CRM selection should be: "How do you work today? And what would help you do your job more efficiently and successfully in the future?" Not only will this give you valuable insight into operations, but it will also ensure acceptance among employees when the software is implemented. 

Step 3: Analyze the Status Quo in Your Organization

Have a look at the current circumstances in your company that are relevant to the implementation of the CRM system. In particular, these points are important:

  • What other systems are you already using?
  • Which software should be replaced by the new solution?
  • Where do the old systems have particular weaknesses?
  • Which software should be connected to the CRM system, for example, to resolve duplicate data storage and improve the flow of information?
  • Which functions and procedures have proven successful in your company in the past?
  • And most importantly: What are the biggest challenges that the CRM provider needs to support you with?

Use your process knowledge and look at the workflows of the customer journey. Ultimately, a modern CRM system is all about your target groups. Define along the respective customer journey which content and functions must be available when and for whom. This means both external persons and the relevant employees of your company. 

The customer journey in the CRM software does not have to be simply a sequential series of contact points with the target groups, as some agencies suggest when they talk about converting prospects into customers. Especially in the capital goods sector (B2B), the customer journey is usually not linear.

CRM selection during a workshop.

Step 4: Set the Right Priorities

During the CRM selection process, companies often create extensive requirements profiles with countless features, which they then compare with the functional scope of available solutions. 

Such a requirements document may look good at first glance, and it hardly contains anything that is not considered useful. In the end, however, it is a hodgepodge of features whose relevance to your particular situation is not sufficiently scrutinized.

So, instead of creating a long list of features that may not matter much to your particular use case, just gather the broad requirements for now. The details will come later. 

With a customizable, modern CRM system, even unusual features can be implemented. But not every functionality is really important, and too many functions even hinder user acceptance and thus the CRM rollout at the beginning.

Prioritize the important and difficult tasks first. When these crucial requirements are satisfactorily completed and up and running, you can take care of the less important issues.

Step 5: Formulate User Stories

In digitalization projects in companies, different departments work together, such as marketing, sales, service and IT. To ensure that everyone speaks the same language and that the requirements for the CRM system are clear and understandable to everyone, you should formulate user stories based on the list of key requirements created in the previous step. 

A user story usually follows this scheme:

"As a [user role], I want [function] so that [purpose]."

Here are examples of some user stories that could be formulated as part of the implementation of a CRM system:

"As a [sales representative], I want [the CRM software to provide me with a structured visit report after a customer visit based on my notes] so that [I can evaluate the results of the customer visit later and the right follow-up tasks are created automatically]."


"As a [sales manager], I want [the CRM software to show me the processing status of all business opportunities] so that [I will be well prepared for the case review with the sales rep]."


"As a [marketing manager], I want [the CRM software to show me leads and their channels ranked by revenue relevance in a dashboard] so that [I can make greater use of the most effective communication channels in the future]."


"As an [inside sales rep], I want [the CRM software to give me a complex quote quickly and with high quality] so that [our company is the first to send a quote to the customer]."


"As a [service technician], I want [the CRM software to help me access all the information about a machine at a specific location on site] so that [I can perform maintenance as quickly and effectively as possible]."

In a typical CRM project, there are about 100 to 150 user stories at the beginning. You can add new ones later, and the existing ones can always be changed, and reprioritized as needed. The user stories help you express the actual project goals in a non-technical way and are the basis for prioritization.

Finding a CRM provider through a personal consultation.

Step 6: Selection of the CRM Provider

If you have reached this point, you have a clear idea of what your new CRM system needs to offer. Now the most exciting part begins: With the list of your requirements and the user stories, you can evaluate the market and find the right system for you. 

When selecting a CRM provider, pay particular attention to these points:

  • Standard featuresCheck which providers already offer most of the features you need as standard.
  • Flexibility and integrationsModern CRM software must be highly flexible and capable of integration. This means that new features can be implemented quickly as well as cost-effectively, or existing ones can be adapted. Make sure that the software can be integrated as deeply as you like into your existing IT system landscape and that integrations with systems such as ERP, DMS, CTI, CMS and marketing automation tools are possible. If you choose such a system, you can be sure that it will continue to be used successfully for many years to come.
  • Cloud softwareModern CRM solutions are operated via mobile devices and the browser. This offers numerous advantages, such as immediate and permanent availability everywhere, whether in use at the customer's site, in the office, on a business trip or in the home office. In addition, the cloud offers the highest security standards and sufficient power reserves if the system grows over time and you want to protect your data in the best possible way. A CRM in the cloud also does not require its own IT infrastructure. The CRM provider takes care of backups, maintenance and updates in the background. With true cloud CRM systems, you also benefit from a flexible subscription model in which you are only billed according to actual usage. This eliminates the need for capital-intensive investments.
  • ComplianceBecause personal data is handled on a large scale in the CRM system, compliance topics such as the GDPR are of paramount importance. When screening the market, you should therefore make sure that the system already meets all important compliance requirements as standard and that any additional functions and processes required can be implemented easily.
  • Services and references of the providerThe provider should offer all services such as development, operation, or training, have many years of experience in the CRM field, and be able to provide convincing references. Ideally, the provider should have already successfully implemented CRM projects with companies in your industry.
  • Size of the CRM providerThe company should be large enough to be able to safely handle even complex CRM projects. At the same time, it should be small enough to be able to react flexibly to changing requirements and to support you unbureaucratically with all your questions and wishes.
  • The personal aspectIn the best case scenario, you will be working with the provider of your CRM software for many years, so you should feel that you are in good hands with them. Make sure that you have a contact person who knows and understands your CRM project and your company.ย 
  • AgilityTo be able to react as quickly as possible to new requirements and market changes, the CRM provider should work in an agile manner. The previously defined user stories are then prioritized and processed in small steps at intervals of two to three weeks รง also known as sprints.

Let the CRM Providers Work for You

If a company wants to become your CRM provider, this should be worth some effort for them.

Of course, you can perform our six steps for CRM selection yourself in your organization. However, there is another option that will help you get to know the providers you are considering: Select two or three CRM providers and conduct a one-day workshop with them along the above points. 

This way, you learn more about the provider's employees, its approach and the system. At the same time, you benefit from the experience of the providers and your selection documentation is created.

Get to Know One of the Most Well-Known and Powerful CRM Systems on the Market!

With PisaSales CRM, we offer medium-sized and large companies a flexible CRM standard solution that can be quickly deployed and individually adapted to your growing needs.

In a personal online demo with one of our CRM experts, you can get an overview of the system's capabilities and get help with your CRM selection.