How to Select a CRM Consultant You Can Trust

December 14, 2023
16 min

Implementing a CRM system is a complex yet crucial business decision. Simply purchasing and installing a feature-rich CRM doesn’t automatically enhance customer relationships or increase sales. A well-planned strategy is essential to avoid costly and unproductive implementation failures.

According to a study from Grand View Research, Inc., the global CRM market is projected to soar to $157.6 billion by 2030. This surge indicates a growing number of CRM consultancies, making the selection of the best CRM implementation consultant increasingly challenging.

Choosing the right CRM consultant is crucial for successfully implementing and optimizing a CRM system. The right consultant brings industry expertise, technical skills, and strategic insight. They ensure a smooth CRM implementation process, enhanced customer relationships, and a higher return on investment.

If you look for answers to questions like “How do I choose a CRM consultant?Why do I need a CRM consultant?”, or “What does a CRM implementation consultant do?”. Or if you find yourself in need of external assistance with CRM implementation but have no idea where to start, keep reading to find out how to select a CRM consultant for various needs.

17 CRM Adoption Best Practices Checklist

Get the list of the best-working tips on how to increase CRM adoption in your company.

Full Name
Work Email

Understanding the Need for a CRM Consultant

In modern business, CRM is essential for managing customer interactions and data across various touchpoints. It helps to:

  • Get a 360-degree view of the customer,
  • Enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty,
  • Boost revenue,
  • Provide valuable insights for decision-making and CRM strategy optimization.

Hiring an experienced CRM consultant can be a wise investment. They offer specialized advice tailored to your needs and guide you through the entire implementation process.

Why Companies May Need a CRM Consultant Ascendix

Why Companies May Need a CRM Consultant | Ascendix

You also might need a customer relationship management consultant when you want to:

  • Select the ideal CRM platform that aligns with your specific business requirements,
  • Prevent overspending on unnecessary features or compromising security,
  • Get recommendations on CRM software optimization, data management, and security measures,
  • Maximize CRM feature utilization,
  • Get help with testing, deploying, and refining your CRM platform for peak performance,
  • Integrate your CRM with existing systems and guide you to fully exploit its capabilities,
  • Upgrade existing CRM systems to meet new requirements,
  • Switch to a different CRM platform with a complete business process mapping,
  • Get structured training programs to ensure rapid and successful onboarding for your team.
  • They can offer specialized expertise for compliance and best practices, helping to maximize ROI.

On the other hand, choosing the wrong CRM consultant can lead to:

  • Ineffective and costly system implementation,
  • A CRM system that doesn’t align with your business goals or needs,
  • Workflow disruptions and decreased productivity,
  • Extra costs for fixing errors, undergoing re-implementation, or even switching to another platform altogether.

Furthermore, a poorly executed CRM strategy can damage customer relationships and brand reputation.

Such setbacks can also delay your time-to-market and diminish your competitive advantage, making it harder to achieve desired growth and profitability.

Want to Make your CRM More Effective?

We will teach you how to use CRM software to the fullest without overpaying for unnecessary functionality.

What Does a CRM Consultant Do?

CRM consultants specialize in a range of services related to the CRM selection, implementation, and optimization of CRM systems. There are primarily two categories of CRM advisors: functional consultants, who focus on business processes and strategy, and technical consultants, who handle system configuration and integration.

Types of CRM Consultants Ascendix

Types of CRM Consultants | Ascendix

 

What is a Functional CRM Consultant?

A Functional Consultant specializes in tailoring CRM solutions to meet specific business needs. They gather both functional and non-functional requirements during various stages of CRM implementation and ensure the system aligns with these criteria.

Functional Consultant’s roles and responsibilities include system analysis, configuration, and fine-tuning to achieve desired functionality. They also draft detailed functional specifications and liaise with the technical team for precise execution. In addition, these consultants handle documentation, assist clients during user acceptance testing, and prepare specialized training for key users.

Functional CRM consultants can act as strategy and CRM implementation consultants.

What Do Strategy CRM Consultants Do?

Strategy CRM Consultants focus on planning and aligning the CRM system with a business’s goals. They analyze customer behavior and existing processes to craft a tailored CRM strategy, complete with KPIs and a roadmap for implementation.

What Do Implementation CRM Consultants Do?

On the other hand, CRM Implementation Consultants take these strategic plans and turn them into actionable steps. They perform the following tasks:

  • System configuration,
  • Data migration,
  • Workflow automation.
  • User training
  • CRM system issues troubleshooting

Both types are integral to a successful CRM deployment, often collaborating to ensure the system is both strategic and functional.

 

What is a Technical CRM Consultant?

A Technical CRM Consultant focuses on the technical dimensions of CRM solutions. They should:

  • Analyze a customer’s system needs,
  • Collaborate with pre-sales and functional teams on technical details,
  • Deploy and test CRM systems,
  • Handle integrations with external platforms and web services.

In complex implementations, they contribute to designing technical specifications and data models. Beyond consulting, they offer technical support to clients and mentorship to junior team members.

Common Challenges of Choosing a CRM Consultant

Selecting a CRM consultant can present several challenges for businesses:

Typical Challenges Choosing a CRM Consultant Ascendix

Typical Challenges Choosing a CRM Consultant | Ascendix

  • Sometimes businesses aren’t clear about what they want to achieve with their CRM system, making it tough to select the right CRM consultant.
  • Budget constraints can make it difficult to hire a CRM consultant with the expertise and experience needed.
  • Businesses must carefully assess whether the consultant’s fee aligns with the value they bring.
  • Ensuring the consultant is well-versed in the specific CRM platform you’re using is crucial. A mismatch can result in delays and increased costs.
  • Finding a CRM consultant with specific expertise in your industry e.g. commercial real estate, can be challenging. A lack of industry understanding could lead to ineffective strategies and implementations.
  • The consultant needs to blend well with the organizational culture and work effectively with in-house teams. Poor cultural fit can lead to communication issues and decreased productivity.
  • High-quality CRM software consultants are often in demand and may have tight schedules. Businesses might find it challenging to secure their preferred consultant within their timelines.
  • A CRM consultant might be effective for short-term goals but may not suit long-term objectives, which requires careful consideration during the selection process.
  • Being aware of these challenges can help businesses better prepare and make a more informed decision when selecting a CRM consultant.

Want to Improve Your Current CRM System or Migrate to a New Solution?

With 26+ years of experience in CRM consulting we will help you seamlessly and securely migrate your CRM data.

Choose Wisely: 15 Tips on How to Select and Hire a CRM Consultant

When you decided on hiring a CRM consultant, you should focus on key selection criteria, such as:

How to Select and Hire a CRM Consultant Ascendix

How to Select and Hire a CRM Consultant | Ascendix

 

1. Define Your CRM Project Goal

Defining your objectives is the crucial first step in selecting the right CRM consultant. Clearly articulating what you aim to achieve with your CRM system will guide you in identifying the type of consultant you need.

For instance, if you’re looking to streamline customer interactions and sales processes, a functional consultant may be ideal. On the other hand, if your focus is on the overall business strategy for customer relationship management, a strategy consultant would be more appropriate.

Lastly, if you have specific technical needs like system integrations or custom software development, a technical consultant would be the go-to expert. Knowing your objectives not only narrows down your choices but also allows you to communicate more effectively with potential customer relationship management consultants.

After understanding your business needs, categorize your consultant requirements into ‘must-haves’ and ‘nice-to-haves’. Define your immediate and long-term CRM requirements. For instance, you may not currently use email outreach or lead scoring but consider how these features might become essential as your business grows.

Take the time to create a comprehensive list of needs that includes provisions for growth.

This step ensures you’re targeting consultants who are best aligned with your specific needs and preferences.

An experienced CRM consultant will assist in articulating detailed requirements. Ideally, opt for a consultant who has a track record of solving similar challenges, so they can offer multiple, effective solutions tailored to your needs.

 

2. Choose a Preferrable Type of Engagement

There are three primary ways to engage a CRM consultant: hiring in-house, outsourcing to a CRM consulting firm, or working with an independent freelance CRM consultant. While the roles of in-house and freelance advisors may be straightforward, let’s compare their pros and cons.

Engagement Types Advantages and Disadvantages Ascendix

Engagement Types Advantages and Disadvantages | Ascendix

 

3. Calculate the CRM Consulting Cost

Understanding the cost structure is vital for budget planning and assessing the overall value a CRM consultant brings to your project. Consultants may charge by the hour, offer fixed project fees, or work on a retainer basis.

Common CRM Consultant Cost Models

Pricing Model
Description
Fixed Project Cost
The fixed total cost of the project after all the estimations of project scope and delivery timeline have been done.
This billing structure allows avoiding any unexpected expenses in the future. However, you can always discuss new ideas and recalculate the final cost.
Flat Monthly Fees
This cost model implies paying a flat monthly fee for a set number of hours you can use per month.
It’s a good option for CRM maintenance and support of basic ongoing projects.
Pay-Per-Hour
This payment option fits for short-term implementation projects that do not require much involvement in specific needs of the business or digging into the specifics of the client’s industry.
Common CRM Consultant Cost Models

Hourly rates provide flexibility but can escalate if the project takes longer than expected.

Fixed project fees offer cost certainty but may lack flexibility for project scope changes. A retainer model ensures the consultant’s ongoing support and availability when needed. However, if you don’t use the services enough, you may not get value for the money spent.

It’s essential to match the cost structure with the scope and duration of your project to ensure it provides good value. Additionally, always consider what’s included in the fee—like post-implementation support or training—as these can significantly impact the project’s overall cost and value.

Also factor in the duration of the project, as longer engagements can offer discounted rates but still add up over time. And don’t let a low-cost quote be the deciding factor for hiring a CRM consultancy. Initial cost savings may be offset by increased hours needed for project completion or significant delivery issues.

Some firms employ a “mixed delivery model,” blending local, customer-facing roles like project managers and business analysts with offshore development teams for cost efficiency. Although not the cheapest option, this approach offers substantial savings while maintaining the quality and experience you’d expect from a stateside consultancy.

More about hidden CRM implementation costs you may learn in our blog post.

 

4. Search for Potential CRM Consultants

Don’t just rely on official websites when searching for CRM consultancies; examine their social media presence and review sites as well. LinkedIn, with its global reach of over 660 million users, is an excellent platform for this.

On LinkedIn, you can quickly gauge the size of a consultancy, see the skill sets of its team members, and even note where they are headquartered. While not everyone has a LinkedIn profile, it’s a solid starting point for your research.

For instance, Ascendix Technologies’ LinkedIn profile indicates we have 140+ employees and are based in Dallas, TX.

Independent B2B review platforms like Clutch.co are also good sources for your research.

Ascendix has been highly acclaimed by Clutch and AppExchange (a Salesforce app marketplace and consultants listing site) for providing excellent consulting and development services.

 

5. Verify Years in Business and Expertise

The CRM consulting and implementation field is highly competitive, featuring well-known platforms like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics 365. Consulting firms with a long history in this domain often bring invaluable expertise, honed by witnessing the evolution of CRM technology. They possess tried-and-true best practices that only come from specialized experience.

Many businesses considering CRM solutions have team members who’ve used older, entry-level contact management systems like ACT, GoldMine, Maximizer, and Telemagic. While these platforms had limitations, they also offered user experiences and features that many found beneficial.

A seasoned CRM consultant will recognize these nuances and can guide you toward a CRM solution that not only meets your current needs but also incorporates those valued features from past systems.

Familiarity with multiple CRM platforms enables a consultant to align their recommendations more closely with your specific needs, thereby minimizing bias. It also empowers them to devise innovative, tailored solutions for your business.

For 26 years in the CRM business, Ascendix has worked with over 10 CRM systems and are long-term partner of Microsoft and Salesforce, two leading CRM vendors. This experience helped us to solve all possible challenges our clients experienced in their customer management processes.

MS Dynamics vs Salesforce: What We Learned Using Both

Over 26 years, we’ve explored both systems as users, developers, and partners. All we know is packed in this free PDF.

Full Name
Work Email

6. Confirm Technical Proficiency

Technical proficiency is a cornerstone attribute to look for in a CRM consultant. Your chosen expert should be adept at the nitty-gritty of CRM systems, including—but not limited to—data migration, system integration, and customization of features.

Data migration expertise is especially critical if you’re transitioning from an old system. System integration expertise is essential for a seamless workflow, especially if your CRM system has to connect with other existing systems like ERP or marketing automation tools.

Customization abilities are vital for tailoring the CRM solution to your unique business needs, ensuring it solves specific challenges rather than offering a one-size-fits-all solution. Confirming these technical skills along with related certifications beforehand can save you time, money, and headaches down the line.

 

7. Look for the Blend of CRM Consulting and Development Track Record

CRM consulting firms with product development experience offer distinct advantages for your custom projects. Consultancies that have developed their own CRM products or built commercial solutions on existing platforms possess a deeper understanding of user needs. They come equipped with ready-made solutions for common business challenges and can communicate effectively with you.

Additionally, these CRM consulting companies are well-versed in quality control and testing procedures essential for deploying and supporting products across a diverse user base. This level of expertise is often lacking in agencies that focus solely on CRM consulting services.

Ascendix not only provides CRM consulting services for Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics CRM but also developed its flagship product – AscendixRE CRM on both platforms.

On AppExchange AscendixRE remains to be one of the leading CRM solutions for commercial real estate which proves that we not only can build a viable software product but can constantly enhance it to go hand-in-hand with industry trends.

Besides that, our custom development arm has developed 17 software products among which are:

Marketspace  – a property listing portal with secure collaboration and deal rooms,

Composer – a brochure and report generation app for Salesforce and Dynamics 365 users,

Ascendix Search – an advanced search and productivity app for Salesforce apps.

Learn more about our custom development and proptech expertise on our sister site – Ascendix Tech.

 

8. Opt for CRM Consultants Specializing in Your Industry

Checking for industry-specific expertise is necessary when selecting a CRM consultant. Consultants familiar with your sector bring valuable insights into market trends, customer behaviors, and common challenges faced by businesses like yours.

This targeted knowledge gives them a competitive edge in crafting solutions that are not just effective but also tailor-made for your industry. Whether it’s healthcare, finance, manufacturing, or any other sector, a CRM consultant with industry experience will speak your language and understand your unique pain points.

This dramatically shortens the learning curve and helps you achieve quicker, more impactful results.

Besides a 15-year track record in CRM consulting and development in the commercial real estate sector, Ascendix specializes in:

 

9. Leverage Offshore Resources

The rise of advanced collaboration tools has transformed the tech community into a global marketplace. Offshore resources often come at a lower cost compared to local talent, allowing companies to allocate budget more effectively.

They often have a more global viewpoint, which can be beneficial for companies looking to expand or understand international markets. Such consultants bring a diverse set of skills and expertise that may be difficult or expensive to find locally.

U.S.-based CRM consulting firms, like Ascendix, have expanded internationally to tap into diverse talent pools and offer cost-effective solutions. Originating in Dallas, Ascendix extended its operations to several European countries, achieving cost efficiencies without compromising U.S. quality standards.

 

10. Look for Post-Implementation Support

Post-implementation support is a critical factor to consider when selecting a CRM consultant. The work doesn’t end once the CRM system is live; rather, a new phase begins that involves user training, troubleshooting, and continuous improvement.

Check if the CRM consultant offers ongoing support to fine-tune the system as needed. This support can be invaluable in ensuring a smooth transition and in aiding your team to adapt quickly to the new system.

Without adequate post-implementation support, you risk encountering operational hiccups or low user adoption rates, which can negate the value of your CRM investment. Make sure the consultant’s post-implementation services align with your long-term needs for a successful, enduring CRM solution.

Ascendix offers two types of post-implementation support – on-demand CRM administration and dedicated virtual administration.

 

11. Review Past Case Studies

Reviewing past work in the form of case studies or portfolios is an invaluable step when selecting a CRM consultant. This provides you with concrete evidence of their skills, expertise, and the results they’ve achieved for other clients.

Look specifically for projects that closely resemble your own in terms of scale, industry, and objectives. This not only gives you a clear picture of what they can accomplish but also indicates their level of familiarity with your unique challenges and goals.

Additionally, case studies can offer insights into their problem-solving abilities, timeliness, and customer satisfaction levels. By assessing the consultant’s track record, you’re better positioned to predict their performance on your project, thereby reducing risks and ensuring a more successful implementation. Review portfolio on Ascendix’s done projects 

 

12. Check Delivery Capacity

While it’s tempting to think that bigger firms are automatically better, focus on their responsiveness and engagement levels in communication.

Things To Check When Selecting a CRM Consultancy Ascendix

Things To Check When Selecting a CRM Consultancy | Ascendix

Be cautious about quality control and the risk of inflated consulting hours. Both freelance CRM consultants and smaller CRM consultancies may be in high demand, so allocate sufficient time for your search and inquire about their availability to start on your project.

Also, tailor your consultant selection to the project’s complexity. For simpler projects, a multi-skilled consultant could serve as project manager, business analyst, and developer, offering cost efficiencies. In contrast, larger, more intricate projects may necessitate specialized roles for optimal outcomes.

 

13. Choose the Right CRM Implementation Approach

Ensure that your CRM implementation specialist’s preferred methodology aligns with your vision and specific needs, as different projects require distinct approaches.

CRM Implementation Approaches Ascendix

CRM Implementation Approaches | Ascendix

Flexible Approach – choose a consultant who can adapt to your business requirements and culture.

“As-Is” Approach – this straightforward method allows you to focus on data transformation and training by using existing features, thereby reducing costs and accelerating time-to-value.

Proof of Concept (PoC) Approach– ideal for projects with unclear visions, a PoC approach transforms abstract requirements into a tangible model through iterative engagements.

Structured Agile Approach – for larger, more complex projects involving multiple business lines and system integrations, a structured agile approach is essential. This will likely involve dedicated project management and business analysis skills to control timelines, budgets, and scope effectively.

 

14. Assess Communication Skills

Effective communication is often an overlooked, yet vital aspect of successful CRM implementation companies. A skilled CRM consultant should not only be technically proficient but also an excellent communicator. They should actively listen to understand your specific business challenges, needs, and objectives.

Just as crucial is their ability to translate complex technical jargon into layman’s terms, allowing for easy comprehension by stakeholders who may not be tech-savvy. Poor communication can lead to misunderstandings, scope creep, and ultimately, project failure.

Therefore, during the selection process, pay close attention to how the consultant communicates. Look for clear, concise explanations and open dialogue, as these qualities will facilitate a smoother, more effective implementation process.

Once you’ve shortlisted potential consultants, prepare a list of questions to further assess their suitability.

Here’s what our clients are saying about our partnership:

Our experience with Ascendix has been excellent. The team is very responsive, seeks to understand the problems that the business is trying to solve, provides clear solutions, and delivers those solutions effectively and efficiently. The Ascendix team collectively, ensures that we have risks managed and works effectively with our other platform teams to ensure that our integrations are working correctly and are adequately tested.

Dan Koehler, a Product Manager at Agoro Carbon Alliance

15. Other Recommendations

Always ask for a comprehensive proposal from your shortlisted CRM consultants. The proposal should clearly outline the project’s scope, specific deliverables, estimated timelines, and a breakdown of costs. This not only helps you understand what you’re signing up for but also sets clear expectations on both sides, minimizing misunderstandings and scope creep later on.

Also, prior to finalizing your engagement with a CRM consultant, meticulously review all contractual documents. Pay close attention to clauses concerning confidentiality, data security, and the conditions under which the contract can be terminated. Understanding these legal provisions upfront helps mitigate risks and ensures both parties are on the same page regarding obligations and expectations.

Want to Customize your CRM and Integrate with other Systems?

We have a development team to help you customize your current CRM, configure and integrate it with other systems.

Bonus: 14 Questions to Ask Your Future CRM Consultant

To help you successfully select a CRM consultant, here is a list of questions you can ask:

  • How long have you been in the CRM consulting business?
  • Do you have expertise in my industry? Could you share case studies/portfolios/references?
  • How have you solved X challenge? (it might help you get new ideas for your future implementation)
  • What is your average project size (in terms of money, users deployed, data migrated)?
  • What CRM platforms have you worked with? Do you have an affiliation with a particular CRM vendor?
  • Do you have custom CRM app development experience?
  • How do you work? What will you need from us? What will be our responsibilities?
  • What CRM tools are you proficient with specifically?
  • Who will work on our project? Can you share CVs? (while the company might be in business for years, you want to make sure you work with experienced professionals)
  • When can you start working on our project?
  • What is your pricing? What is the average cost of a project like ours?
  • Do you provide training and support for our users? What is your SLA (Service Level Agreement)? Can I review your typical Agreement? (Make sure to check their and your responsibilities, liability, and payment terms)
  • How do you control quality and timelines?
  • What experience have you had in training teams to use and adopt a new CRM platform?

Why Ascendix Technologies as Your CRM Consultant of a Choice?

With 26 years of specialized experience in CRM, Ascendix Technologies is your go-to partner for CRM selection, implementation, and adoption. Our expertise spans around Salesforce and Dynamics 365 consulting and AppExchange app development, honed through numerous end-to-end projects. We employ industry best practices to tailor CRM solutions to your unique business needs.

In managing security, we adhere strictly to ISO 27001 standards to ensure best practices. Rest assured, your business and customer data will remain secure throughout our collaboration.

Also, we’ll help you with:

  • CRM selection by analyzing your specific needs to recommend the most appropriate CRM options through an unbiased market comparison.
  • CRM implementation consulting and designing CRM workflows to support your tasks, either using pre-built features or custom functionality and integrating comprehensive customer profiles.
  • Developing a custom CRM if you need to develop a unified system with all necessary custom modules.
  • CRM migration consulting for a seamless, risk-free transition to a more efficient system, ensuring data integrity and zero disruption.
  • CRM performance optimization by solving any lingering CRM issues and unlocking underused features to enhance your existing processes.
  • CRM consolidation by transitioning from multiple fragmented systems to a single enterprise-wide platform, ensuring unified processes and clean data across all departments.

As your dedicated CRM Consulting partner, we facilitate digital transformation by devising and executing comprehensive CRM strategies. Our seasoned team conducts workshops for optimal engagement, guides you through emerging technologies, crafts targeted user stories, and ensures smooth Salesforce deployment and user adoption.

Book a free CRM consulting call and we’ll show you how to solve your CRM challenges effectively.

How to Select a CRM Consultant FAQ

What is a CRM consultant?

A CRM consultant specializes in helping businesses select, implement, and optimize Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems. They assess a company’s needs, recommend suitable CRM solutions, and guide the implementation process to improve customer engagement and operational efficiency.

What are CRM consulting services?

CRM consulting services assist businesses in choosing, implementing, and managing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems. These services help companies optimize customer interactions and internal processes by providing expert advice, customization, and ongoing support for CRM platforms.

What is the CRM Consultant hourly rate?

The hourly rate for a CRM Consultant can vary widely based on expertise, seniority level, chosen platform, location, and the complexity of the project. CRM Consultant’s rates could range from $35 to $200 per hour or more.

Share:

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (36 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment
First name *
Email *

Comments

Laravel Development Services

Amazing! Your article is full of useful information, and I appreciate the time and effort you took to write it.

Anzhelika Serhiienko

Thank you for acknowledging our efforts and for taking the time to share your thoughts!

We’re thrilled to hear that you found the article filled with useful information.

kervinroy

The clearness in your post is simply excellent and that i can assume you’re knowledgeable in CRM Consultancy. Great, thanks for sharing this article post.

Anzhelika Serhiienko

We’re thrilled to hear that you found the article both excellent and informative.

Thank you very much for your kind words and for recognizing the clarity and expertise we aim to bring to our posts, particularly on CRM consultancy.

Sign Up for Salesforce Best Practices & Tips

Follow us and get expert insights and guides right to your inbox.