by Steli Efti, CEO
Last updated September 10, 2021
“This sounds great… But how much is it all going to cost?”
If you’re not prepared to answer this question, your whole CRM implementation project is about to go down the toilet.
If you’ve been following this CRM implementation guide from the start, you know that understanding the total cost of your project is an essential part of getting buy-in from higher-ups. And as we saw in the last chapter, going over budget is one of the most common risks you’ll come up against while implementing a new CRM.
So, how much does CRM implementation actually cost? Where are those costs coming from, and how can you reduce them?
Let’s take a look at the fine print on your invoice and discuss:
On average, a CRM implementation can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 (or possibly more) for a sales team of around 10 users. This includes the time spent choosing and implementing a CRM, plus costs for consulting, training, and reduced productivity during the migration process.
We know you’re looking for a straight answer to this question. Which is why we don’t want to just tell you ‘it depends’.
Instead, here are some of the factors that will have a huge impact on the cost of your CRM implementation project:
But true costs at this stage involve more than tallying up a list of high-ticket items. It’s your job as a sales ops leader to look at the value behind those costs.
For example: do you have to pay for consulting services to get your data migrated? How much time and effort will this actually save you? Will you need to pay for extra training for your team? How much value will they get from this training? How much faster will they be onboarded to the new system?
Or, what about the cost of the CRM itself? Which features are you expecting to get real value from? Which ones will your team hardly use?
When looking at these costs, remember to weigh the ROI against the price tag to see how much value you can pull from each item without sacrificing your budget.
Ready to dig into these costs (and some ideas on how to reduce them)?
When you’re excited about jumping into a new CRM, it can be easy to overlook some of those hidden costs.
So, let’s discuss 6 costs of CRM implementation that you need to consider, plus some tips on how to reduce those costs for your team.
Yes, we realize that’s quite a range. Assuming your team consists of 10 users, this is the average cost for a CRM. So, what affects the baseline cost of your new CRM?
Cloud-based CRMs give you pricing plans that adjust what level of features and services you can expect. Mainly, you’ll see changes in:
For example, one popular CRM software offers a very cheap starter plan, but without essential features like email sequences, custom reports, or lead scoring.
Also, some of the more basic CRM subscription plans don’t include a high level of customer service. With Salesforce’s most basic plan, the only customer service feature available to you is an online form with a two-day response time. And even with some of their higher-priced plans, you’ll still need to pay an extra fee just to get faster support responses.
So, look at the fine print before you sign on the dotted line. Know exactly which features you need, and exactly which plan allows you to have those features. Beware of add-on packages that make you pay for essential sales features.
To save on customer support charges, opt for a CRM that includes high-quality customer support that you can trust at no extra cost (*cough* like Close *cough cough*).
CRM implementation costs always include the fees for setting up your new CRM and migrating your data. This is one of those fees that is likely hidden way down in the fine print on the pricing page of your new CRM (or it may not be there at all)!
So, talk to your CRM vendor about migration costs before you make any decisions. Learn about training options for your team, read the fine print, and find out exactly what this is going to cost you. Online communities can be a great source where people discuss their experiences with CRM vendors. (Look particularly for those that aren't owned or sponsored by a particular software vendor for unbiased voices.)
To save on team training, look for tutorials and training content created by current users of the system. Take advantage of any free training offered to you by the company.
While data migration seems to be the biggest hidden fee for sales teams switching to a new CRM, there is a simple way to save: Switch to a CRM that will help you migrate your data without charging any hidden fees.
It’s hard to put a price on productivity, but it’s essential to count this into your budget.
While data is being migrated and your new reps are still getting up to speed with the new system, they’ll lose precious hours during the week (and you’ll still be paying them the same).
If you want to be more exact with this cost, calculate your team’s salary and assume they’ll be working at half-speed until they’re up and running in the new system.
Again, there’s a simple way to reduce this CRM implementation cost: choose a CRM that allows your team to jump in and get started from day 1.
Since calling is such an essential sales activity, make sure you have room in your budget for VoIP services. For a team of 10 reps, expect to add the above to your annual costs.
Add this charge as you consider your CRM implementation costs, especially if you have to pay for the service and integrate it yourself.
That said, some CRMs include telephony in their subscription costs. Others work directly with a VoIP service provider, giving you a discount or monthly credit towards your team’s calls.Make sure to look at the fine print. Some vendors offer a certain amount of calling minutes per user, but only for inbound calls, or outbound calls into specific localities.
Whichever is the case, make sure to count this when creating your forecasted budget.
Repeat after me: your CRM is not a lead generation tool. That’s something you’ll need to pay for separately.
Your sales stack will consist of more than just your CRM. When calculating your budgets and organizing costs, remember that, if you’re looking to upgrade your entire sales process, you’ll probably need to upgrade the rest of your stack as well.
Here’s how Nick Persico, Director of Sales at Close, explains it:
“You need to keep your lead generation stack separate from your CRM stack. I see a lot of teams mess up by trying to get their CRM to do everything, and it’s just not possible. You need to be nimble on the lead generation side, the tools and the methods are going to change way more rapidly than the CRM does. You need to think about them as separate entities entirely.”
So, take some time to dig around in your sales stack. Set up a separate stack for lead generation and determine your right tools for:
Simplify this stack as much as possible, and you’ll reduce costs.
You’ve checked to make sure your essential tool stack integrates well with your new CRM. But do you know how much those integrations are going to cost you?
Remember: not all integrations are native. With the invention of tools like Zapier, it’s become much easier to link all of your favorite tools together and automate repetitive tasks. However, that will generally come with an extra cost.
Zapier allows you to have 5 automated workflows (or ‘zaps’) set up on their free plan, which is great. But if you need to link a lot of tools and set up a lot of zaps and share them across your whole team, you’ll need to upgrade to one of their paid plans.
And even with native integrations, there may be hidden fees—for example, the integration you need may not be available with the CRM subscription plan you chose.
So, dig into the real costs of your integrations.
Pro tip: Want to see what effective CRM integrations look like in the wild? Check out how the team at Customer.io set up a powerfully automated workflow using their own email marketing tool + Close CRM.
Seeing all those zeros has probably done a number on your stress levels today, amirite?
Here’s an important fact to reduce that stress: your CRM implementation won’t just bring costs, it also brings ROI.
While it’s important to make sure you’re prepared for all the costs of implementing a new CRM system for your team, it’s more important to focus on the results that this new CRM will bring. Otherwise, you could get caught up in searching for the ‘cheapest’ option and missing out on the option that will actually increase your bottom line.
So, what is the ROI of a CRM? To get a detailed answer, use our CRM ROI calculator, based on the real results that our users are seeing right now.
In the next (and final) chapter of this guide, you'll find your ready-to-use CRM implementation checklist that will help you put all of this information into action.