Express Version

  • Reference checking rounds off the evaluation process with critical insights on how other customers are using the system. Checking references is the only way to properly evaluate some requirements. Checking references should not be viewed as a substitute for a proper technical evaluation, however.
  • Target reference accounts that have similar needs to yours in terms of size, type of business, and product use. You may need to check various aspects with different reference accounts to get a complete picture.
  • Prepare reference checks using your requirements list. Ask specific, detailed questions rather than staying with "Are you happy with the tool?" For large decisions, make a site visit and include technical staffers and super-users.
  • Negotiate each aspect of the contract, paying careful attention to the warranty and the terms and conditions for maintenance and support. Maintenance and support last essentially "forever" so missteps there will cost you in the long term.
  • You can expect significant discounts from list prices, especially for high-end tools, large purchases, and if you time the purchase to coincide with the end of the vendor's fiscal quarter. Don't focus blindly on the license price. Since you will keep the tool for many years, maintenance and support costs will exceed the purchase price and should be negotiated with the same level of attention.
  • It's often a good idea to buy licenses for more users than you need today since you can get a much better price that way. Make sure you don't buy more licenses than you will need a year from now so you don't pay maintenance and support on unused licenses, which will negate your savings.
  • Preparing an ROI analysis is part of any major purchase. Do not overstate the benefits in an effort to make the justification more attractive. Most CRM purchases require months after deployment to become profitable.