How to select the right CRM platform for your sales team?

Consider any organization – large and medium. One of the first things it does when it wants to increase its market share, its sale revenues or, more broadly speaking, invest in digital initiatives, is to choose a technology platform. Possibly the right one to support it sales force. This is a big decision for most organizations.

In this paper, I am reviewing the various criteria we are usually using for the assessment, emphasizing the importance of carefully looking at the vendor’s viability over a longer period.

As I always say, the most important aspect of selecting a technology solution is to ensure it will support the company’s business ambition and drive value over time. This is a rather big investment for most organizations and it requires careful approach. The solution must meet the business requirements, facilitate user adoption, be conform to technical standards, be low risk and easy to implement and maintain, while meeting the costs at the same time.

So I highly recommend taking the necessary structured approach for the selection process.

Of course, most of you may have already been through the process in the past. You may already have a methodology in place.

But, if you are in the process, you may wonder what the best way is to select a partner and how to ensure that the approach is comprehensive in scope.

Which criteria should we consider?

Before we continue, we need to break down the different elements that we need to cover.

  • Strategic Fit: The overall alignment with the organization’s business and technical strategies as well as implementation considerations
  • Best functional fit: The degree of fit to business requirements including ease of use, reporting capabilities and breadth of service offering.
  • Best technical application fit: The degree of fit with technical requirements including the flexibility, system complexity, data synchronization, upgrade path, scalability, and integration capabilities.
  • Cost Analysis: The one-time costs (cost to configure, customize, etc.) and the on-going costs (license, maintenance, upgrade costs).
  • Implementation considerations: Roadmap and timeframe to achieve the business objectives, associated costs, risk and mitigation approach, etc.
  • Vendor Viability: The vendor financial stability, “proven” history, customer base, knowledge, responsiveness, vision, and ability to partner

The preferred platform should ensure the right balance of usability, functional and technical fit, cost (implementation and TCO), risk, and integration complexity.

It should also match the “accepted” level of risk in regard to the viability of the vendor. Let us consider why.

Why assessing the vendor viability is critical.

I have been working in the CRM market for more than 20 years. Over the years, I have seen many vendors disappearing and newcomers joining.

The Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Sales Force Automation is often one of “must-have” sources of information when selecting a platform for managers.

Often, I have heard executives say, “We have a looked at the Magic Quadrant, picked the first three in the top, and sent Request for Information”. Easy and straightforward.

But is that enough?

I have collected and put side by side several Magic Quadrant for Sales Force Automation platforms. From 2003 to 2022, the most recent.

The results are insightful, quite fascinating.

It demonstrates the importance of considering the vendors over a period of time. The latest evaluation might not be enough in the long run.

  • From the vendors in 2003, only two (Salesforce and Oracle) are still in the picture today. All others have disappeared. Even the market leader (Siebel) and its first contender (Peoplesoft). Microsoft had not started to invest in the field yet. It will soon.
  • When Oracle bought Siebel and Peoplesoft, it naturally became the market leader. But interestingly, it never managed to capitalize on the purchases and already in 2009, Salesforce was leading.
  • Salesforce’s vision has proven right over time, being the market leader until today.
  • We observe insightful journeys in the quadrant for some vendors as SAP, Sugar CRM and Pega, moving between challengers, leaders and visionaries’ roles. This might indicate that the market is very active functionally, technology, and competition wise. This is also confirmed by the number of disappearance and newcomers in the last 5 to 6 years.


Altogether, I wanted to show, visually, the importance of looking at a vendor viability over a good period before making a decision. This includes financial strengths, R&D investment, management vision, customer base and maturity of the platform, stock performance, and years in business.

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About the Author

Didier Dessens

CRM and Digital Experience Advisory