Cost of a commercial CRM
More and more companies, in B2B as in B2C, are considering the idea of implementing a CRM. How much does a commercial CRM cost? Implied: beyond the cost of the software as such, which is far from being the main cost. We wanted to deal with this question in-depth, taking into account and explaining the different cost items of a commercial CRM.
Selection of sales CRM
Yes, even the process of selecting a commercial CRM costs money! Some companies spend years and thousands of man-hours choosing their CRM system. We do not recommend spending so much time there. But, conversely, you must still devote time to the selection. It is an essential step. You must identify your company’s CRM needs, expectations, and objectives, define the main use cases, deduce the target functionalities that the software will have to offer, build specifications, benchmark several CRM publishers, etc. It takes time and therefore costs money. You need to be able to distinguish “must-haves” from “nice to haves”. Too many CRM projects fail, too much software is not adopted internally because of the too great complexity of the chosen commercial CRM. One of the keys to the success of your CRM project is to choose CRM software that will, because of its simplicity, be effectively adopted by the various collaborators.
Here are a few tips :
- Identify in your organization between one and three people in charge of the dialogue with the CRM editors. This will prevent all collaborators from having to invest time with each of the editors. Having clear specifications, or failing that precise knowledge of what you want, will also save time in discussions.
- At the end of your research, select between 3 and 4 CRM publishers, no more. Ask these editors for a demo. Test each software. Check whether or not all the needs of your teams are covered. Build an analysis grid, with the list of all your criteria, to compare each of the solutions selected and be able to identify the best one.
- Organize internal meetings. The selection of CRM should not only be the business of management. All end-users of commercial CRM (marketing, sales, customer service, etc.) must be consulted and have a voice. This is the best way to optimize the adoption of CRM after its implementation.
- Negotiations with CRM publishers take time. You have to anticipate it.
In our table, we have estimated the time required for the CRM selection process at 83 man-hours, assuming that the commercial CRM will be used by at least 10 users.
Cost of CRM software
When you think of the cost of a commercial CRM, the cost of the software is the first thing you think of. But, as we will see later, this is not the only cost to be taken into account, nor the main one for that matter.
Commercial CRM distributed in License mode (or “On-Premise” as we sometimes say) is becoming an increasingly rare bird. The majority of CRM software vendors today use the subscription business model. The monthly subscription amount can be based on the number of contacts in your file, the number of emails sent, or the number of active users.
Sometimes several variables are used (file size + number of emails sent for example) to calculate the cost of the sales CRM subscription. In general, the commitment period is one year, with payment every month and tacit renewal of the subscription from one year to the next. It is sometimes possible to opt for a subscription without commitment, but in this case, the price of the subscription is more expensive.
The cost of the subscription naturally depends on the nature of the CRM software and its functional richness. Between a CRM dedicated solely to the management of email / SMS campaigns, a CRM enabling marketing automation, and a CRM enabling the implementation of a Single Customer Repository, there is a gulf. For emailing software (like Sendinblue for example), the cost varies between a few tens of euros per month to around a hundred euros. For complete CRM suites ( Microsoft Dynamics type ), the cost can reach 150 – 300 euros per month per user.
Watch out for other costs that can increase the price of the sales CRM subscription. These costs, often hidden, in any case rarely explicit, can be linked to the rental of dedicated IPs (a CRM editor can refuse you access to their shared IPs), to telephone support (rarely included in subscriptions), to access to advanced modules (reporting, tracking, connectors, etc.), etc.
But, as we said at the beginning, the cost of CRM software is only a fraction of the overall cost.
Implementation of commercial CRM All commercial CRM
vendors will tell you that installing and using their software is as easy as pie. That you won’t need any accompaniment. That you just have to log in to start using it. Let’s be honest: they are exaggerating. Others, conversely, will tell you that you need a certified consultant to make the settings.
Whatever CRM solution you choose and the level of complexity of it, tell yourself that you are going to implement in the organization a tool on which all employees concerning it will depend in one way or another. customers. It’s a real challenge. The most risk is the weakness of the adoption. Teams have their habits. The implementation of a CRM, for them, implies a modification, sometimes profound, in their ways of working. Badly implemented, a commercial CRM can have a very negative impact on the productivity of teams, the quality of the service delivered to the customer, and even on the profits of the company.
There is a rule that recommends investing as much in implementation support as the annual cost of the sales CRM subscription. If the cost of your subscription is 1,500 euros per year, you should invest as much in support for the implementation – by recruiting an expert consultant in CRM.
The costs associated with the implementation of commercial CRM software correspond to several things:
- Data cleaning. You are probably going to need to gather data from several sources. Files managed by salespeople, databases used by marketing, data from accounting, e-commerce, etc. There is necessary data cleaning work to be done, especially deduplication. To successfully bring all of this data into one file, you must first identify the data that matters and its sources and then call in a database management expert to centralize all of that data in the file.
- Data migration. Once all your data has been put together in a single database, you must load it into your new commercial CRM software. If the file is in .xls format, this step is fairly straightforward. But there are chances that you need to load the data into the system using different formats. To know what data to load, where to load it, and how to do it successfully, you will most likely need some advice from the editor or hiring a CRM consultant.
Time is a crucial variable. Customer data is a living matter. It is constantly evolving. If you take too long to clean your data and migrate it to the CRM, chances are that at the end of the process half of your data is no longer up to date. Which, of course, can prove to be very costly for the business. The ideal process would be to bring together the most recent data from the most important sources, to merge them before loading them as quickly as possible into the CRM. And this even before ensuring their quality.
- Customization. It is the most important piece of the puzzle. At first glance, CRM software may immediately seem suitable for your business. But very quickly you will realize that the dashboards for example, which you find very well done, do not include all the information you need. You will see that settings and adjustments are necessary to be able to operate the customer dialogue that is yours. You must implement the specifics of your customer relationship management in the software. For this, it may be advisable to call on an external consultant, who will be able to advise you on the functionalities to activate, the data fields to use, the processes to set up to manage and automate your reports, etc. A good balance must be found between simplicity and completeness. Too many data fields and too many new procedures to store will discourage software users. We recommend a pragmatic and step-by-step approach: start by implementing the priority features and specifications, and deploy the rest as you go.
- The configuration of campaigns and relational scenarios. The implementation of customer dialogue scenarios, in itself, is not time-consuming. What takes time is the work of building these scenarios. You must also create the templates for your marketing campaigns.
- The creation of documentation. If you customize the CRM software, the documentation provided by the publisher will no longer be sufficient. You need to create a document, a “user guide”, allowing commercial CRM users to easily understand the procedures and the distribution of roles, tasks, and responsibilities among the different users. This accelerates the adoption of CRM by teams. This documentation must be regularly updated, to incorporate changes that have occurred over time in terms of functionalities or processes. Make this document easily accessible by collaborators
- Integration of CRM with third-party tools. You must, via connectors or APIs, connect your CRM to your other systems (ERP, CMS, marketing tools, customer service tools, etc.). This requires quite advanced technical skills that even some consultants do not have. Here again, you can opt for gradual integration, for example by favoring initially the integration with the CMS
In total, we have evaluated the cost of the implementation at 7,500 €, which can be broken down into:
- € 2,000 man-hours of your internal resources (66 man-hours).
- € 5,500 in CRM consultant fees.
Sales CRM training
Once you have progressed in the implementation, we strongly recommend that you organize training sessions. This makes it possible to ensure that the main procedures are correctly understood and to avoid the drops in productivity that often accompany the start-up of a new tool.
If several departments of the company use the CRM, you can organize specific training for each profession/role: marketing, customer service, sales … For example, training that explains to the sales representatives how to manage the pipeline and other training, at destination marketers, who explain how to manage leads. If you do not have an in-house person who can lead the training sessions, be aware that CRM software publishers generally offer training services. You can also hire a CRM consultant who is knowledgeable about your software or an approved training organization.
We estimated the cost associated with the training at € 3,000:
- 500 € of expenditure on internal resources, i.e. about fifteen hours (to organize training courses: search for service providers, exchanges, recruitment, organization of training days, etc.)
- € 2,500 in services, which corresponds to 3 or 4 consultant man-days.
The cost of the “CRM Training” item closely depends on the number of training sessions you want, the number of teams to be trained, and so on.
Maintenance of commercial CRM
The CRM crash is undoubtedly the highest cost item if it occurs. You must work to minimize the risk of crashes, bugs, data loss, etc. by setting up an efficient maintenance system. If you choose a SaaS commercial CRM solution, part of the maintenance of your system is provided by the publisher. In this case, check the guarantees offered by the publisher in terms of system backup. How often is your data automatically backed up? What are the possibilities for manual backup? Has your chosen publisher suffered any outages? If so, how long do outages last on average? If you choose licensed software.
All these precautions taken before choosing a CRM can considerably reduce maintenance costs.
We have estimated the cost of maintaining the commercial CRM at € 500 per month (or about fifteen hours) for internal resources. This cost corresponds to both the time spent by your teams on maintenance and the money lost due to breakdowns and other bugs when they occur. In the event of a serious problem, the use of an external service provider may be required.
It is possible that this article has completely discouraged you and that you are now more hesitant than ever to initiate a CRM project. Wait before doing it. Because you have to tell yourself that the cost of a commercial CRM is much less than what it can earn you if you use it correctly: increased sales, extended customer life, improved lifetime. value, etc.
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