Buying Crm

Putting the H Back into C-R-M: 5 Human Factors to Consider When Buying a CRM

As you read this headline you’re probably scratching your head. Obviously, there has never been the letter H in CRM, so what’s the meaning of this? Well, H stands for the human factor, let us explain.

Nowadays, buyers and vendors can be so focused on technology that they overlook the single most important component when it comes to a successful CRM project which are the humans who design, sell, implement, adopt and administer the CRM solution. The internet is flooded with people asking, “what’s the best CRM?” We suggest you start elsewhere, by considering the 5 human factors of any CRM decision.

If you’re a small or medium sized business (SMB) and you’re currently considering your first – or switching to a new  – CRM  keep reading. The purpose of this article is to help you find the best CRM solution for you by considering the 5 variables that are ultimately driven by humans.

#1 Design

Each CRM solution is designed based on a human’s assumptions of how a business operates

It is essential to understand not only the vendor’s history but also the background of its executives. Every product is influenced by the business and social environment of the humans who created it. Therefore, the CRM solutions you consider are ultimately a reflection of their founder’s background and perspective as well as those of the executives running the company.

If you are a SMB, should you be looking at the big CRM players out there such as Salesforce or Microsoft, or does it make more sense to identify smaller vendors who understand how smaller businesses operate (those who walk in your shoes).

Understand that CRM vendors design their product based on their own understanding of how businesses operate and will think of features and processes that could fit your way of working much better than those who cater to large companies.

#2 Sell

The human you engage with will sell you either on product features or on a solution to your problem

Once you have shortlisted CRM vendors that seem to have the right size, background and industry knowledge, you’ll work with a salesperson. They are humans too. Do they speak your language? Do you feel comfortable spending time with them? Is it someone you would have lunch with?

These questions are more important than you might think because you’ll likely spend a lot of time with them during the implementation phase and over the period of your agreement. A seller’s background will determine if he/she sells you features or truly understands your business and offers you a solution.

Consider asking the sales person how long he or she has held their current position. Often sales people are under enormous pressure to bring in business.

Salespeople who haven’t held their job for at least 18 months are often inclined to leave out information or provide inaccurate information in a rush to close the deal. This often leads to a bad awakening later in the process.

It should be mentioned here as well that it is not only the seller’s responsibility to provide the correct information and bring the knowledge necessary to assess the ask but also the customer’s responsibility to assign decision makers to this project who have experience in sourcing software solutions as well as have the right business background.

#3 Implement​

Humans should run the process and not the other way around

The implementation phase is critical for the success of the project. It’s essential that each party offers a single point of contact to drive the project forward. The CRM vendor should present a plan for the roll-out, milestones and timing and assign humans to each.

Consider your team’s resources and capabilities and if necessary slow the process down to accommodate realistic milestones. In addition, make sure you have buy-in for the project from all stakeholders – don’t assume.

#4 Adopt

Solutions should adopt to humans and not the other way around

In our view, poor adoption is the end-result of selecting the wrong vendor, the wrong product approach, and the wrong leadership. Get the first three steps of this buying guide right and you’ll lessen the risk of poor adoption. Having that said, there are 3 important rules to follow in order to drive adoption.

  1. Set a realistic timeline and milestones for adoption
  2. Provide a training schedule that is easily digestible for users
  3. Resist the desire to move fast! Take the time and customize the solution around the humans who will use it.

#5 Administer

Don’t create a super human to administer your system, design a super system to empower humans

Once you are past the hurdle of implementation and adoption. administration will be the next variable to conquer. You wouldn’t believe how many CRM projects fail because the CRM admin was offered a job elsewhere and no one else knows how to administer the system.

Make sure you train more than one person on how to administer the system so you’re never left stranded with a system no one can operate.

Administration is also linked to long term cost.

The CRM solution you select should enable users to create and configure forms and reports on the fly without the need to consult with the vendor or worse having to pay for extra development work. The system needs to be able to scale with your business without producing unanticipated costs.

Be careful if you purchase a CRM solution through a vendor’s partner. These partners often get very little of the license fee as compensation and are motivated to make their cut through services and consulting fees.


Just like a good salesperson who understands the importance of knowing their buyer, it’s advisable to reverse the technique as a CRM buyer. Understand who the people are on the other side of the table and what drives and motivates them.

Do they want to build a partnership with you or do they just want to close a sale?

Last but not least the non-human, technology aspect, cannot be ignored. Some products are in fact better than others, so don’t be afraid to ask for external help.

There are fantastic and affordable research companies that look beyond the logo and have worked with companies like yours and know to ask the questions you might not know to ask.

Thomas Kattnigg Pic

Thomas Kattnigg

CEO, Sellsation USA

Sellsation is a CRM software vendor catering to small and medium sized businesses. Thomas is a published author and a thought leader in the field of growth and sales strategies. With nearly 2 decades experience in selling, purchasing and implementing CRM projects, Thomas personally led the roll-out of over 200 CRM installations and identified what makes or breaks CRM success.