Shopping with a Purpose

Once your requirements list is complete, it's time to go shopping. As mentioned earlier, don't start shopping seriously until you have a fairly good idea of your requirements so you don't waste time evaluating unsuitable vendors on the one hand and you don't ignore potential good fits on the other. It's useful to organize the shopping process into four stages:

  • Creating a long list. There are hundreds of vendors that claim to be CRM vendors so it makes no sense to attempt to evaluate them all. The first step in the process is therefore to create a so-called long list of likely candidates by performing an abbreviated evaluation of vendors' capabilities against the requirements list.
  • Evaluating the candidates against the requirements. Through a structured process, you perform a more thorough evaluation of the candidates on the long list against the checklist, rating them as you go.
  • Creating a short list. Using the results from the evaluations, you narrow down the list of vendors to the two or three best candidates. Creating the short list is usually fairly simple, as leaders emerge rather naturally.
  • Negotiating the best deal. After the evaluation is complete, you need to check references and negotiate the best possible agreement.

This chapter covers creating the long list, evaluating candidates, and creating the short list. Checking references and negotiating the best deal will be covered in the next chapter.