In CRM investments bigger isn’t always best; Cheaper isn’t always better value; Best isn’t always most appropriate. It should go without saying that appropriate business choices must benefit the business. They must pay back. It is important when considering a CRM investment to pause and consider what ‘appropriate’ means.  In simple terms it means understanding yourself, your needs, your payback possibilities. Meet those and you’ve got a good business decision. But, sadly that’s not the way every organisation  approaches business purchases today, so it’s little wonder that the CRM success rate of 25% of projects pleasing their owners with acceptable benefits has remained unchanged for 20 years. And CRM shoppers this is for you; the chances of you getting it ‘right first time’ are slim. Business hasn’t yet come up with a successful process for ensuring good CRM decisions. For many, the ‘brand leader’ is the no-brainer choice. It used to be said that if you don’t understand what you are doing you won’t get fired for buying IBM. Why is CRM so difficult? I believe that one of the reasons is that people think it should be easy. Delegating a software purchase to the staff sounds like good participative management. It seems democratic. Knowing the CRM business as I do, and with 20 years experience watching people fail and helping some to succeed it looks unwise. Why? Well for a start, a staff committee can’t know what the business needs to do to transform customer relationships into business growth. Lesson one: Business growth is a senior management job. For years we have been encouraged to believe that business purchases can be managed using the same skills we learn when shopping at a major trusted supermarket.  And we are all aware how we demand immediate gratification. Go to the right aisle select the best you can afford, put it in the shopping basket; Job done! We also know that with so many excellent products to choose from we can quite rightly say ‘If it isn’t on the shelf, I can’t buy it’. If it was rubbish, Tesco (or other) would not allow it on the shelf. Of course you could always try some other similar outlet or web shopping, and the answer would only be slightly different. In a well-behaved market, there is little risk of getting it wrong. I know this is not yet sounding like a lesson in how to buy CRM, but stick with me. If you go shopping for CRM in the belief that you can’t get it wrong you might just skimp on the diligence with which you examine how the benefit will materialize and deliver to the ‘bottom line’. If you want coffee...