(Part 5 of a series of 5)

Welcome to Part 5, which wraps up my series on choosing an admissions CRM! (In case you missed it, here’s why I wrote this five-part series.)

In this post, I’ll provide you with five tips on getting the best outcome from your CRM RFP. I’ll also share two valuable resources with you …

First, the Master List of Admissions CRM Requirements. It allows you to simply pick and choose the requirements that make sense for your school. It also tells you when to ask to see a screenshot from the CRM.

Second, the What Your Admissions CRM Demo Should Include resource. It describes everything you should ask to see in a CRM demo.

My hope is, with these resources at your fingertips, you’ll be able to identify about 80 percent of your CRM requirements, which will save you MONTHS of time and headaches!

Now, on to the five tips!

1. Limit the number of vendors you send an RFP to.

As my previous blog posts indicate, I encourage you to use the RFI process to narrow down your list of vendors to no more than six. Ideally, the responses you get from your RFI will make it easier for you to narrow your list even further.

Each vendor should be aligned with your priorities, staffing resources, and budget. That way, reading through each RFP response will be a valuable exercise, not just a drain on resources.

2. Set reasonable deadlines.

When you ask for a proposal on a complex system, such as a CRM, you need to give the vendors adequate time to respond – a month is reasonable. If you give them less time, the vendor(s) you’re most interested in may not be able to prepare a response at all … leaving you with the least desirable CRMs to choose from.

3. Focus on what’s most important.

Rather than focus on the bells and whistles, focus on the specific core requirements that you need to get your job done and meet your enrollment goals. Here’s the good news: we’ve done the heavy lifting for you – check out the Master List of Admissions CRM Requirements, and pick and choose the requirements that are the top priorities for your school.

Remember, a common IT adage is that 80 percent of all software users generally use only 20 percent of a software product’s features and functionality.

4. Carefully consider weighting and scoring.

You should put more weight on admissions requirements than on IT requirements. (Often, RFPs get this backwards.) Sure, you should consider the needs of the IT department, but be certain to place the most importance on YOUR needs; you’re the ones who have to “live” with the CRM every day … and are responsible for enrolling your class!

5. Be clear about what you really need to see in a demo.

Demos should put the software through the paces of performing scenarios that are directly relevant to your requirements. For the best results, let each vendor know your top priorities; check out our What Your Admissions CRM Demo Should Include resource for suggestions. (Be sure to give the vendors a few days of advance notice so they have adequate time to prepare.)

Conclusion

I hope that this series of blog posts and resources has been valuable to you, and has equipped you with the knowledge and tools you need to choose a CRM with confidence. In addition, my hope is that the information I’ve provided will save you months of time, and lead you to the best possible outcome (minus the surprises).

I’d love to get your feedback on these posts and resources, and any ideas you have for additional ones! Feel free to email me at shelly@fire-engine-red.com.

Shelly Spiegel has nearly 30 years of experience in the education market – including 15 years as CEO & Chief Creative Officer of the company she founded, Fire Engine RED.