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How to effectively sell your boss on a brand new CRM

You’ve found the one — the SaaS product that’ll change everything. From its flexible features and friendly interface to its extensive integrations and customization options, this software couldn’t be a better fit for you and your team.

But there’s one thing standing in the way of you and your dream SaaS: your boss. They control the budget, which means you need to prove this software is worth the investment.

Collect evidence

You should already know how this SaaS product will address one — or more — of your organization’s major pain points. (If you don’t, it’s worth asking yourself if the product is necessary.)

However, your pitch will be much more convincing if it’s backed with proof.

Jared Houghton, co-founder of sales productivity software company Ambition, recommends asking each sales rep: “How focused are you in your outreach efforts? What’s your pipeline look like? How well are you tracking your current opportunities?”

Once you have those answers, you can map them to the CRM’s specific features.

Next, get feedback from companies that are already using the product. Most SaaS product sites will have a “Customers” page; pick a couple of the organizations on that list and ask them what they like, what they don’t like, and what results they’ve seen.

You can also ask the SaaS representative to introduce you to current customers, but be aware they will only give you the names of the happiest ones.

Prepare a cost-benefit analysis

Telling your boss how much money, time and effort this SaaS product will save your team will have a big impact.

With the data you gathered in the last step, figure out approximately how much you’re losing without this product. For example, maybe you estimate each salesperson will close 20% more deals with a new CRM. So, if the average deal is $5,000, and your sales team makes 20 deals per month, you can say to your boss, “We’re losing $20,000 every 30 days if we don’t buy this software.”

Next, calculate how much the software will cost. Houghton says there’s the sticker price (say, $60 per user per month), and there are the associated costs for installation, onboarding, support and so on. Even if the vendor doesn’t charge extra, account for the money you’ll lose while your team is moving to the platform.

Finally, give your manager the ROI. With everything included, the product might cost $6,000 a year — but you’ll be making $30,000 more. So your ROI will be $24,000 a year (and that’s if your sales team doesn’t get bigger).

“Ultimately, the investment you make upfront pays off in customers that you keep longer and who are thus much more profitable,” said Chris Bucholtz, who previously worked at SugarCRM and Aplicor and currently runs content marketing for CRM complement CallidusCloud.

Develop an implementation plan

When it comes to buying new products, inertia often holds us back. So, before your boss signs off on a new CRM, Bucholtz says you’ll need to present a solid action plan.

Here’s what to consider:

  1. When will training and onboarding take place? If this will interfere with the team’s daily activities, how will you make up for the drop in productivity?
  2. How will this tool work with the ones you already use? If it’s replacing another tool, how will you phase out the old one?
  3. Who will be involved? Will you be leading the project, or will someone else be in charge?

“A CRM is a complex purchase,” Bucholtz said. “Integration, onboarding and adoption require thought and foresight.”

Present to your boss

Once you’ve got quotes from customers and your sales team, estimates on cost and savings, and an implementation plan, you’re ready to present.

How you do this will depend on what you know about your boss. Do they like carefully planned, detailed presentations, or would they be more receptive to a casual conversation over lunch? Do they always zero in on the data, or are they more of a “gut feeling” decision maker?

By customizing your approach to your manager’s style, you’ll definitely increase your odds of success.

If the meeting ends and you get the go-ahead, awesome! But more likely, your boss will say, “I’ll think about it.”

In that case, it’s time for the next step.

Rally internal support

Showing there’s a strong demand for this CRM will understandably make your boss more likely to go for it.

“Managers know the CRM is as much the reps’ system as it is theirs,” Houghton said. “You’re going to be living in it every day — and if it’s not an enjoyable experience for you, then no one will get the value they want out of it.”

With that in mind, go back to the stakeholders you initially talked to, and ask if they’d be open to sharing their thoughts.

You might say, “Hey, I talked to Sienna about the new CRM, and she said she’d consider it. I know you were excited about switching to one we can open on our phones — would you be willing to tell her that?”

It’s also a good idea to ask your boss what reservations he or she has. Maybe your boss is concerned about how reliable your choice is, or how expensive, or how secure. Once you know what’s holding him or her back, you can figure out how to address the issue.

Go to Plan B

What if, even after all that, your boss still doesn’t bite? You have two options. First, you can move on. You never know if your boss will come back in six months or a year and announce, “I’ve been thinking. Let’s go with that CRM you suggested.”

Your second option is to propose a trial run. Most CRMs offer a free trial so your team can try out all the features and test the fit without any cost.

“A trial allows you to compare the new CRM solution directly against your existing one to get a real apples-to-apples view of impact,” Bucholtz said.

So, tell your boss you understand the concerns about X and Y, but before the final decision is made, you’d like to do the trial. By the end of the month, when your company’s productivity has shot up (along with its revenue), your boss might finally be convinced.

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