Time and time again, workforce and education organizations struggle with how to objectively evaluate customer relationship management (CRM) platforms currently on the market to determine which one provides the best value for their operational structure. Without knowing the right questions to ask a vendor, there are predictable outcomes that lead to unnecessary costs, inefficiencies and low adoption rates including:
- accepting state-mandated job boards as a “CRM” that falls woefully short in functionality and customization, especially in collaborating across multiple agencies;
- selecting platforms that require multiple applications with proprietary language(s) that creates unpredictable configuration and customization costs on an ongoing basis;
- trusting big name companies because of their brand recognition versus being prepared to ask the questions you need answers to, so you can see what’s really “under the hood”;
- using vendors that offer “free seats” without realizing that these freebies are probably bundled into other line items such as hosting and customization;
- paying more money to get out of a contract due to data hostage situations.
Business U is on a mission to educate workforce and education professionals about the hidden costs when considering the purchase of a CRM. We will continue to provide you with the questions you need to ask prior to committing to a platform for your organization.
What’s our hidden agenda for this campaign? It’s to provide you with Business U’s educational philosophy and to learn more about the technology that drives our platform, B2B Engage®. A 2017 International Davey Award technology winner, our CRM platform has been developed specifically for workforce and education markets. Without a doubt, B2B Engage® will successfully go up against any CRM on the market—feature by feature, benefit by benefit. We’ll provide you with complete transparency on all costs upfront. And because our CRM has been developed for your market, we pass the savings of customization on to our customers. Just ask them. 65+ workforce and education organizations strong that are using B2B Engage®.
“Doing regional work as a workforce board means that we are in the relationship business. It’s critical to the success of workforce boards that they have relationships with their customers (businesses and job seekers) and regional partners that are based on trust and credibility. Business U understands this. They have given us the professional development and CRM technology tools we needed to strengthen relationships with our customers and partners. They are the best vendor I have ever worked with! Really.”
MARTY HOLLIDAY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
NEW RIVER / MOUNT ROGERS WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT AREA
“Love the benefits that B2B Engage® provides my organization and workforce partners. Easy to use in the field, cost effective and automates our business engagement outreach and operational strategies.”
DAVID HOLLARS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CENTRALINA WORKFORCE
Top 6 Questions to Ask Your CRM Vendor – NOW!
To unearth the hidden costs with CRM vendors you need to start asking questions. Below is a starter kit to help you do just that during your vendor interviews. It includes, what questions to ask; the reasons why these questions are important; and how B2B Engage® addresses the questions to save you money, time and increase your operational efficiencies.
|Question to Ask
the CRM Vendor
|How B2B Engage®
Answers The Question
|What is the seat cost per month?
||If the answer is “free,” then you definitely need to ask the remaining questions as some vendors are bundling the cost of user seats and hosting into configuration and other line items. Make sure to ask for a detailed line item budget that includes the vendor's specific tasks, number of hours to complete, and cost per hour for complete transparency.
||We offer highly discounted rates to non-profit and public-sector organizations. We break out costs for you in a line item budget so that you can see what it is you are paying for exactly.
|If we want to automate a workflow process, do we have to learn proprietary language to do so?
||This is a key question as most CRM vendors use closed source proprietary programming language that only their coders and/or their 3rd party vendor will know, which might mean that every time you want a customized change, you are at the vendor’s mercy such as being charged when you need to customize or configure a new workflow process.
||You don’t need coding knowledge or experience to understand our easy drag and drop system to automate workflow processes or make changes to your system.
The administrator or Super-User(s) of your B2B Engage® platform is fully trained and empowered to make these changes on the fly 24/7 at no cost to you.
|Do you use a separate app for marketing automation?
||This is such an important question, as many organizations use eMarketing to conduct outreach. You’ll find that many vendors have to bolt on an app that doesn’t have all the great functions of an eMarketing platform like Constant Contact.
The apps may use different languages and databases creating duplication of effort in maintaining your various lists/databases. Extra burden is placed on you when you need to automate workflow processes so that the two databases can “talk” to each other.
|B2B Engage® has marketing automation built into the platform with all the features of a Constant Contact including rich analytics, which means you are not paying for redundancy with your eMarketing efforts. You can say “good-bye” to those 3rd-party marketing vendors, and you will no longer have to manage two separate databases. After all, isn’t that one of the main reasons for a CRM—to have a single database to maximize your business engagement efforts?
|What is the process and timeline for getting my data out of the platform?
||This is a follow up question to the previous one above. The CRM vendor should explain to you a step-by-step process as to how to get your data exported back to you when your contract has expired, or you would like to terminate it. Don’t forget to ask if there are any costs associated with the export.
||You own your data. There is no cost to export your data nor are there any penalties attached. Your administrator will be provided with a step-by-step process to export at your convenience, 24/7.
|Do you allow software-to software-interface such as an API (application-programming interface)?
||Workforce & education organizations depend on other databases to evaluate labor market information and not duplicate efforts. The CRM vendor should allow you to interface with other databases (software-to-software) using an API tool. If they don’t, it could be a red flag and a sign that they want to hold you to their proprietary systems and customization costs.
||If the vendor(s) from the various databases you use allows APIs, then B2B Engage® can interface to maximize your productivity by allowing all of your software applications to talk to each other.
|Do we get charged based on the amount of contacts in the database and if so, what is the cost?
||You may get a free seat in the CRM, but you may have to pay for the amount of contacts in your database. For example, the more contacts you have or import into the database the more you have to pay. Get the breakdown of contact costs upfront.
||B2B Engage® doesn’t punish you for building more relationships. Engagement strategies such as increasing your interactions to get more contacts are exactly what we teach in our accredited professional development courses and during our CRM training. And we highly encourage you to do so, go out and get more contacts. Your expanded reach means more opportunities for your job seekers and students. We would never charge you for that!
For those of you who have recently signed on the dotted line with a CRM vendor that you believe is not performing or is costing you too much money, it’s not too late to go back and ask these important questions. We’ve helped organizations that have realized that the CRM they chose was not a match by easily converting them to B2B Engage®. To learn more about how you can migrate from your current CRM platform to B2B Engage® or receive more information about Business U’s CRM platform, send us an email to schedule a consultation and test drive.