How to Fairly Evaluate, Score and Rank CRM Software Demos
- CRM software demos shift your technology evaluation from quantitative to qualitative. They assess subjective but essential criteria such as simplicity, ease of use, intuitive navigation and the user experience.
- Too often, vendor led demos focus on what's cool but not relevant. They are entertaining but not helpful in making an informed and objective evaluation. A software demo script is the tool to ensure that the presentation focuses on what's most important and creates consistency for evaluating multiple solutions.
The Customer Relationship Management software demonstration shifts your evaluation from identifying what capabilities exist to seeing how they are delivered.
The demo provides a visual verification for how the solution accommodates your most important requirements. It also validates these requirements in a way that just can’t be verified any other way. Benefits such as ease of use, a clean and simple user interface and a rewarding user experience must be seen and experienced.
Apply the following 5 best practices to aid your CRM evaluation and make the most of your demos.
Start with a short list to 2 or 3 vendors
It smarter to go deep with fewer vendors than broad with many. Demonstrations are long and detailed so more than 3 tends to blur memories.
Good sales reps help their customers solve problems. So, provide the publishers a background document on your company and software selection process. Offer them time before the demo to understand the company, what’s most important and what challenges need to be solved. Also share your decision-making criteria. There's no benefit to keep it a secret and the transparency can help the vendors be more responsive.
Focus on what separates the applications
These applications have evolved over decades and accumulated rich functionality. All the market leading apps, and most of the up and coming challengers, cover all the basics. We have learned from many years of CRM consulting that about 80% of features and functionality are common among competing vendors. So, you are better off to focus on the 20% that differentiates the solutions. Identifying and ranking those differences that are relevant to your business will deliver the most value in the shortest timeframe.
Apply demo scripts
Demo scripts are needed to focus on what's most important and create parity for solution scoring. Without scripts you are likely to see many cool features, most of which are not relevant to your company or decision-making criteria.
The best demo scripts focus on measurable user, customer and business outcomes. Refrain from telling the technology vendors how to do something. Instead, share with them what you want to accomplish and let them share with you how they do it. Their ideas may change your thinking.
Also, focus on end-to-end business processes, not individual tasks or activities. A software screen may look fine for a standalone activity. But the system may become onerous, complex or confusing when performing broader processes.
You will want to recommend time limits by topic or objective so vendors do not over invest in areas where they are strong and gloss over topics where they are weak. It is also helpful to structure the presentation in sections so employees can attend just the topics important to them.
Finally, demos should be interactive. Don’t interrupt the demonstration but reserve frequent breaks for questions and dialogue. It's also a good idea to have staff actually enter a few leads, accounts, opportunities, cases or other transactions in the system. There can be a big difference between watching a trained salesperson effortlessly enter transactions, and your staff enter similar data or navigate screens.
Score the demos
The demos should be scored immediately after the presentation while memory is still fresh. Not all capabilities are equal in importance so demo script items should be prioritized or weighted. Common weightings include a 1 to 10 score or designating each requirement as a must-have or nice to have. If you choose this later method, refrain from the natural inclination of making too many items must-have.
All staff should be included in scoring for their respective areas. That means users, administrators, managers, executives, IT staff and anybody else who is a user or beneficiary of the new application. Scores can then be consolidated and displayed in a side-by-side comparison.
Perform post demo briefings
A facilitator should lead a collaboration and briefing exercise after each demo. It's surprising how the observations of others may pick up things you missed and can influence group opinion.
The initial goal of this briefing is to develop a consensus for each assessment area, or to note the differences where there is not a consensus. The next goal is to confirm software gaps. Every effective demonstration uncovers gaps but quite often you can work with the vendor to identify creative configurations, work-arounds, third-party products, or software customization as a last alternative. The post-demo briefings should solidify the teams conclusions and any concerns in a document with enough detail to be helpful if it needs to be reflected upon weeks after the presentation.
It's a big effort to do this right but there's a lot at stake. Choosing the best CRM system for your company will maximize user adoption, accelerate the most important outcomes, prevent excessive customization and amplify your technology ROI.