A company will know when they need to invest in a CRM type system. It is likely that as a growing business you have become reliant on excel spread sheets and access databases to manage things like customers, suppliers, your sales pipeline and even sales orders.
When a business requires all data (this includes customers, suppliers, orders, stock ect..) to be managed from a central single location then you need a CRM type system.
Different businesses will experience issues at different times of their development. But if you are finding the there is a lot of human error or time consuming tasks in current methods of operation then the time is right to start looking.
When you start looking into CRM type systems you really need to make that you go in with an open mind and not only consider the cheapest option, but also which of the vendors has chemistry with you as a business owner. The last thing you want is to find a nice cheap system from a company that simply will not work with you to either better the system or better the relationship.
There are hundreds of CRM type systems in the market so I would also suggest to small businesses that you allow for a 3 month selection process. You want to build up a long list of say 7-10 different systems. Once you have received information from them you can narrow this list down to about 4-6 and then have online demonstrations (personally I advise against trials as you are new to the system and won’t get the full value). Once you have had your demonstrations you will select a short list of 2-3 and this is when you get down to the nitty gritty of talking costs and deployment options.
Always remember that some vendors only offer cloud systems, some only offer on-premises systems and others can offer cloud, on-premises and hosted which gives you more choice to negotiate if that system fits.
Thanks and Good Luck
Business Development Manager