Ask an MSP ExpertQ: As my team continues to grow, we’re looking into CRM tools to help organize our sales efforts. What are some things I should consider when choosing a CRM tool?

You’re certainly on the right track. A good CRM tool can keep your team organized as you start to grow. As you accumulate more clients and foster more relationships, a CRM tool can help you pull all sorts of information together, such as phone numbers, addresses, contacts, and even notes, allowing your entire staff to be on the same page.

When you start searching for a CRM tool, there are a number of factors you need to consider. Most importantly, you want to find a solution that can grow with your business. To give you pointers on how to find a solution that is the best fit for your MSP, we spoke to Ellen Krupp. Ellen is the CRM expert at Intronis MSP Solutions by Barracuda, and she works tirelessly with the sales and marketing teams to integrate new functionalities and ensure that everything continues to run smoothly. Here are her tips on what your MSP should consider when looking for a CRM tool.

What a CRM tool can do for you

When used correctly, a CRM tool can benefit your MSP as a whole, especially with support cases and sales initiatives. This allows you to unify the message between the two teams. For example, if a support representative is on a call, they can recommend a product or service that sales has reached out to that customer about—and vice versa. It helps the company be more in sync.

handshakeA CRM tool isn’t the thing that helps you grow, though. It’s a tool that can support the growth of your company and make your efforts more scalable. More importantly, it creates a single, easily accessible location with all of your data about current and prospective customers, which gives you and your team an efficient way manage your business.

A few things to consider

There are quite a few things you should consider before deciding on a CRM tool. After all, what works for you might not work for an MSP in a different vertical. Take the time to research and trial different options (if you can) to find the best fit for you!

  1. Security. Good security is important and can be especially critical for certain MSP verticals. Some CRM tools allow you to restrict access to features that are non-essential to the user’s role in the organization. For example, Salesforce lets you to create user profiles allowing them to have access to portions of the database, while restricting their permissions and the type of information they have access to.
  2. Mobile Access. A lot of people in my career have really appreciated this feature. While it isn’t a necessity, it allows users to easily look up a customer’s phone number and account information or add notes when they are on the road. Plus, your sales team can easily check in and leave themselves reminder tasks when they’re out of the office. It all goes to the one place—and more importantly, it’s all right there when you need it.

  3. Integrations. CRMs that integrate with the other tools you use can be powerful and simplify your daily operation if you know how to use them correctly. For example, a simple integration with financial information allows your support team to know who hasn’t been paying. It puts all the information right there at your fingertips. Your integration options are essentially endless, and if you have industry-specialized software that can integrate with a CRM, that can be game-changing for your MSP.
  4. On-premise or in the cloud. You have two options. You can either use an on-premise CRM tool or one in the cloud. What’s best for your MSP depends on the resources you have to put into it. A homegrown or other on-prem solution might offer more unique customization options, but the more resources you will need to maintain the system. Your core business isn’t maintaining a CRM, so you need to determine what makes sense for your team. If you use a cloud CRM tool like Salesforce, someone else manages the development of the tool and the integrations.
  5. Cost. Pricing considerations are different for every MSP. There are many tools with different price levels and license levels, so you’ll need to find one that fits your budget and your needs.

  6. Built-in reporting. Some CRM tools have built-in reporting, which can be very beneficial. For example, if you gather the data of when support calls are placed, you can respond and adapt your MSP strategy accordingly. Say you notice that more customers are calling within the first year of service. You may then decide to set aside more time to onboard new customers. If more customers are calling in the afternoon, schedule fewer support technicians in the morning. Making a few changes like this can not only increase customer satisfaction, but can help you avoid unnecessary costs.
  7. Simplicity and functionality. If the CRM tool isn’t simple, you won’t use it and won’t get the benefits of all that extra functionality. If your CRM is simple but it doesn’t gather the information you need, then it doesn’t really help you. That may seem like a tradeoff, but you shouldn’t settle. Ultimately you should find something that will give you both simplicity and functionality. In the end, you don’t want to spend all your time training your staff how to use an overly complicated CRM tool—you want to give them a tool they can use.
  8. Scalability. Whether you want to run something in-house or in the cloud, you need a CRM tool that will scale. If you want to continue to grow, choose a CRM tool with the capability to grow along with you. It’s much harder to migrate once you start using a solution, so find the best one for you from the beginning.

The best way to find a CRM tool is by talking to other MSPs to find out what works well for them. Find out which functionalities they like and which ones they don’t. Another vertical in another industry can be completely different, so try to get advice from IT professionals who are in similar industries. While the research might be time-consuming, finding the right CRM tool for your MSP will pay off in the long run.

Ask an MSP Expert is a weekly advice column answering common questions from MSPs and IT service providers. It covers topics ranging from pricing and selling to marketing and communications—and everything in between.

Photo Credit: Nguyen Hung Vu via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons 2.0. 


Lauren Beliveau

Posted by Lauren Beliveau

Lauren is a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at Barracuda MSP. In this position, she creates and develops content that helps managed service providers grow their business. She also regularly writes The MSP’s Bookshelf and our Ask an MSP Expert column.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *