When you start a business and you have a list of 20–100 clients, Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel is enough to manage your relationship with them. However, as business expands and new customers emerge, these tools will lose their effectiveness, and you will have no choice but to start using professional CRM solutions.
Such software products are of two types: SaaS and user development. The first option involves access to the CRM-platform through a paid subscription (from $ 20 to $ 7,000 per month), the second - the creation of its own CRM-system. Today we will briefly evaluate the advantages of the second option and, based on open data from the Internet, we will find out how much development of a custom CRM system costs.
Advantages of custom CRM solutions:
- Development of an individual CRM system allows you to adapt an application to the needs of a particular business, while expensive and complex SaaS solutions are designed for the mass user, that is, for superficial satisfaction of all possible needs of all types of business.
- You get only the functions you need, which saves time and money to spend on staff training and CRM integration into your business processes.
- More complete integration, since the software is developed on the basis of a particular business, taking into account all its nuances and features (number of employees and departments, management hierarchy and distribution of responsibilities, etc.).
- No compatibility issues and easy expansion of the system, if there is a need to add new features.
- Full control over the database.
This is justified if you do not have free money to develop a custom solution, but if you have that kind of money, count how much development will cost and how much you will ultimately spend on a subscription for 5–10 years. Compare these numbers and make the right decision.
The cost of developing a custom CRM depends on which modules will be included in it. Mandatory modules for most CRM systems for business include: sales, marketing and customer support. Let us see how much each development costs and what functions are integrated into them.
Almost all sales modules in modern CRM systems have the tools to manage the listing of current and potential customers, analyze trends and market dynamics, as well as develop sales plans. Thanks to these functions, you can automate much of the work with clients and databases and make fairly accurate predictions of business profitability.
If you look at the CRM-systems tools for commercial enterprises, you will most likely find the sections “Accounts”, “Opportunities”, “Leads” and several others. The approximate cost and development time of these tools are presented in the following table:
Account Management is the main function of any customer relationship management software. In sales, this tool is responsible for processing data about existing customers, allows you to add data of new and potential customers and turns them into opportunities for new transactions.
When developing this element, it is important to make sure that employees can easily and quickly add and display customer data: name, phone number, email address, status of the customer, customer rating. Tables from different sections must be interconnected so that changes to data in one section lead to changes in similar or related data in another section. Besides, managers should be able to sort and filter information by key parameters: order status, customer rating, last contact time and the like.
Sales Analytics is another important feature that allows you to customize monitor panels and charts to explore and visualize (simplifies and speeds up understanding) of sales trends. Usually this function is implemented by dragging the panels. For better presentation of information, add filtering parameters: marking by time scale, color and location.
It is important here that employees can download data from external sources and combine them with spreadsheets of a CRM system. This is necessary for communication with other employees (for example, with the authorities or another department) and analysis of the business in the context of a problem or market trends.
Planning — tools to predict sales. To do this, sales staff must have access to marketing data, analytics and sales history. A good CRM system should be able to translate such data into graphs and charts, as well as create a calendar of future sales based on the predictions made.
The following features should be added to this calendar:
- create events, assign tasks;
- leave comments, messages, documents;
- create reports based on the tasks (number, implementation, productivity of a particular employee);
- remind of an event or task some time before the deadline.
Marketing moduleAs in the case of sales, the marketing module is needed to automate the control, management and tracking of the results of marketing campaigns. Its introduction into the business will allow you to plan and build marketing strategies in accordance with the data obtained (and not by the subjective considerations of marketers). The time and cost of implementing basic functions for the marketing module is as follows:
Marketing Campaign Management — tools for creating marketing events and tasks, handling financial issues and appointing people responsible for specific events. For example, a marketer may add an event “advertising promo on Youtube” and attach to it:
- the task “Create a promotional video and put it on Youtube”;
- marketing materials about what and how to advertise;
- bills to pay for video production;
- tables for video reports;
- other things.
Customer analysis — tools for customer segmentation, that is, to divide people into groups based on data collected by the sales department, and to study their profitability. For example, on groups of customers depending on their behavior (reactions to advertising, promotions, bonuses and participation in events), consumer preferences, as well as the average and total amount of purchases.
All this needs to be displayed using charts, graphs and indicators. Best of all, if the system itself will process some indicators of customers and assign them indicators that show the probability of sale: 20, 50 ... 90% of success.
Development strategy — a set of tools with which you can sort marketing campaigns by success, cost, conversion, performers and contractors. As in the case of sales analytics, this should be done through the interface of drag and drop and visualization.
Availability of information about contractors is important because it allows you to understand with whom it is best to work, and also protects the company from loss of contacts in the event of a marketer leaving. For example, so we will know exactly who made the video in the event “advertising promo video on Youtube”:
- if people didn’t like the video, we’ll know that this performer didn’t cope with the task and shouldn’t be approached anymore;
- if the ad was successful, we will know who to contact to create a new ad. In case of leaving or dismissal of the marketer who was responsible for this event, the video maker’s contacts may be lost. What happens quite often if you work with freelancers on the remote.
Support moduleHigh-quality implementation of the support module is the key to customer retention, as it shows them that you care about each of them and do not rely on single sales (the main thing is to sell the product here and now, and then at least the end of the world). Making people believe in the sincerity of such care is very difficult, especially if the process is automated. But this task can be simplified if the specialists from the support service can quickly find out the name of the client, what product he bought, if he applied to the support service earlier and why.
Support service — a central interface that distributes requests to customer support among staff and shows them customer data. With this tool, support service agents will be able to prioritize, assign and redirect tasks (customer requests).
Knowledge base — a handbook with answers to any questions that a client may have, as well as instructions for support staff, indicating what and how to do in each case. It is important that support agents have the ability to save, correct and publish these texts.
Service analysis — a tool for collecting statistics on client requests that logs problems and keeps track of whether they were resolved and how quickly. The analytical part of this module should collect and systematize information from a variety of sources: emails, phone calls, social networks and other means of feedback.
The price of CRM systems is not limited to the cost of directly developing a software product. It is also worth adding the costs associated with pre-project preparation, staff training, technical support and program improvement.
During the pre-project preparation, it is necessary to clearly formulate the purpose and basic requirements for the software. Each requirement is a concise description of the desired or necessary property of the developed CRM system. Requirements are formulated by the customer on the basis of market and domestic research, marketing analysis, competitor analysis and developer recommendations.
Typically, pre-project preparation takes place in six stages:
- The developer analyzes the business and customer requirements and, on their basis, develops tactical and technical requirements for development.
- A more thorough survey of the business is conducted, its structure, tasks and tools are studied, on the basis of which several concepts are created that satisfy the requirements of the customer. After that, these concepts show the customer, and he chooses the best.
- The developer tentatively determines what needs to be done, how long it will take and how much it will cost the customer.
- Preliminary design decisions for the development of a CRM system and its individual parts are determined. Sketch documentation is being developed.
- Development of design solutions and relevant documentation.
- Development of working documentation and its approval.
Staff trainingOf course, your company's employees are able to independently understand how to work with the new CRM system. But time is needed for this, and time is money. Therefore, it is better to immediately take care of the possibility of personnel training, for which you will need to select several employees who will study the developed program in advance and then will be able to transfer their knowledge to the rest.
In addition, you will need to develop training texts that contain answers to all questions that employees may have while working with the new CRM system. Such guides should be written in simple words, with examples and step-by-step instructions, preferably in the form of videos.
There is a very high probability that the developed CRM will contain errors and bugs (regardless of the cost and complexity of the project). To remove them, we need a technical support service, which will respond to staff requests for problems and solve them. This can be done by an individual, an entire department, or an outsourced company.
Technical support can be provided in such ways:
- Call support (call out) - when something happens, you call a specific number and call a specialist. In this case, you pay for the call and the materials that were used to correct the problem.
- Technical support for a specific period - you hire a specialist who works for you all working day. The duration of such a contract depends on the complexity and scale of the project, as well as the desire of the employer.
- Managed services - you hire a company that provides you with a predetermined range of services at a predetermined cost.
- Support in the form of crowdsourcing - you create a platform where employees and all interested persons discuss the problems encountered and how to solve them. Following the example of Apple and Mozilla discussion platforms.
CRM system improvement
Along with eliminating bugs and errors, you should also take care of improving the developed CRM system - sharpen it to the ideal. To do this, some time after the introduction, it is necessary to conduct employee surveys regarding the convenience, quality and speed of the software.
In addition, it is important from time to time to manually check the accuracy of the work of the new program, as in the process of drawing up documentation or development there could be an error in the formula, user script or design. This opportunity is also worth considering.
Disclaimer. Data on the cost and duration of the development of CRM systems are average values for the market (March 2019) taken from public sources: developer prices, expert texts, listings of development companies and research materials.