The Essential Guide for Visionary AI Enabled CFOs:  

Navigating the AI-Enhanced CRM Landscape

What matters vs. AI FOMO Vapor Ware?

As a CFO, you play the crucial role in shaping the strategic direction of your organization. You pay the bills!

One of the key decisions you’ll make is selecting the right Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system (yep yawn, but wait..).  

In today’s AI-driven world, this task is more complex than ever (does management know how hard all this new AI “stuff” has made your job?). Fear not, this guide is here to help you navigate this challenging process with a dash of humor to keep things light. 

Yes, we know you’re a CPA, not an MBA! 

TBS – We also know you keep your sense of humor in check for… obvious client protection reasons😊

Here is what a “Normal, Don’t Shake the Boat” CFO is thinking: 

  • AI? Who Cares? We’re hitting our numbers
  • I have revenue problems I need to solve this quarter– will you solve that for me in 30 days? If not, go away.
  • AI is just another fad, right?
  • AI will go away, I just need to wait awhile like the fax, cellphone, service cloud thingies-everyone will have one and it really doesn’t matter then, does it?
  • How many times do I pay for new tech the CRO or CIO bring to me promising “Major savings” yet never deliver? 
  • Heard this CRM is going to be awesome “story” before. Why is it different this time?
  • I don’t believe what the CRM salesperson has told me
  • Why am I paying for a new CRM, when salespeople don’t use the one we have now?

Any CFO will say, yes been there and “you have no idea how much tech investment takes up my time.” 

The biggest question always asked is undeniably the most important:

Which of my top 3 Problems does your software solve?

How long will it take to solve each problem?

How much does each problem cost to solve?

  • Most importantly – how can I trust you to deliver the solution? We both know I won’t keep my job if you fail. 

With that history of failed CRMs and salespeople that over promise and under deliver as a backdrop. The following CFO AI CRM evaluation checklist matters because it’s not about the “tech.” It’s about which problems can you solve that my CFO livelihood depends on?

Step 1: Identify Your Needs and Pain Points Start by conducting a thorough internal audit of your current processes. Identify the challenges your team is facing and the gaps in your current system. This could be anything from tracking customer interactions, managing sales pipelines, to automating marketing campaigns. Document these needs and pain points as they will guide your CRM selection process.

Step 2: Set Well-Defined CRM Goals Define what you want to achieve with the CRM. This could be improving customer service, increasing sales, or enhancing productivity. Make sure these goals are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Having clear goals will guide your selection process and help you measure the success of your new CRM.

Step 3: Identify Must-Have CRM Features List the features that are crucial for your business. This could include contact management, task automation, reporting capabilities, etc. Prioritize these features based on your business needs. It’s also a good idea to involve end-users in this process as they can provide valuable insights into the features that will make their jobs easier.

Step 4: Consider Which Team Members Will Use the CRM Identify who will be using the CRM in your organization and what they will use it for. This will help you understand the necessary features and level of user-friendliness. Consider conducting a survey or interviews to gather this information. The more user-friendly your CRM is, the more likely your team will use it effectively.

Spend the time to understand why they don’t use the current CRM (often the number one reason for replacement or upgrades). Find out which features and benefits they want they don’t have and ask them “If we make these changes – would you use the new CRM daily?” If the answer is no, you need to dig deeper. 

Step 5: Plan Your Budget Determine how much you are willing to spend on a CRM. Remember to consider both the initial cost and ongoing costs like maintenance and upgrades. It’s also important to consider the return on investment (ROI) the CRM will provide. A more expensive CRM may provide more value in the long run. 

In your budget plan on a discovery fee, a software fee, a configuration / implementation fee and then don’t forget out training and change management facilitation. In most cases 3 to 5 times what the software license will cost will be what you pay to make it work. 

Step 6: Research CRM Platforms Look at different CRM platforms and see which ones meet your needs and budget. Consider reading reviews and getting recommendations. You can also look at industry reports and rankings to get an idea of the top CRM platforms. Make sure to take note of the pros and cons of each platform.

Plan for the future. How expensive are the CRM software developers and are they easy to find for that particular CRM? How quickly and easily can we change CRM features to adapt to our changing business needs? Do I need AI specialists for the AI portion of the CRM? How expensive will it be to make changes and will that be in-house or an IT contractor?

Step 7: Demo the top 5 CRM’s that fit your criteria, rank them, look at total cost of ownership. Bring in sales and marketing people to review demo’s and get their feedback. 

Step 8: Plan for Success. Upon CRM selection line up all the resources you need to do a successful install. Before, during and after the software build with timelines, responsibilities and vendor penalties if they don’t comply. Make sure you don’t pay for software until it’s usable.

Choosing a CRM with so many options in today’s market is a significant challenge. Add AI-enabled CRM functionality into the mix and it becomes a vastly more complicated buyer journey and important that every CFO gets it right. 

By following these 8 broad steps and focusing on what problems to solve vs. wow that’s really cool tech (but does nothing new) CFO’s can enable their company with a long term winning AI-enabled CRM strategy. When done right it will generate more revenue than the competition. 

#ArtificialIntelligence #CAIO #AIstrategy #EthicalAI #DataScience #AITalent #Innovation #AIethics #AIgovernance #AIleadership 

David is an investor and executive director at Sentia AI, a next generation AI sales enablement technology company and Salesforce partner. Dave’s passion for helping people with their AI, sales, marketing, business strategy, startup growth and strategic planning has taken him across the globe and spans numerous industries. You can follow him on Twitter LinkedIn or Sentia AI.
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