Debunking 7 EDO CRM Software Implementation Myths

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Economic Development Organizations (EDOs) face significant challenges in organizing communications. Many EDOs still track these interactions with outdated tools like Excel. But Excel wasn’t built for this. Relying on Excel to track constituent interactions can negatively affect the productivity and success of your EDO.

CRMs are designed to manage interactions with multiple dispersed organizations and individuals. It is purpose-built to track communications and tasks.

But if this is true, why haven’t all EDOs adopted CRM? The answer is that there are widespread myths that CRM is difficult and expensive to implement and adopt. EDOs worry that a CRM software platform is too sales-oriented and won’t fit their unique business model. Then there’s the concern that the cloud itself is somehow not safe.

These, and other common objections, are common myths holding EDOs back from making software changes that can increase productivity and effectiveness.

Challenges of Implementing CRM in the EDO

The trifecta for EDO efficiency is:

  1. Tracking customer interactions
  2. Setting follow-up tasks
  3. Reporting

EDOs are not sales organizations, but they do face competition. Yet the tasks differentiating the best EDOs are similar to the generally accepted best practices of top-performing sales organizations worldwide. That makes a CRM an ideal tool for an EDO.

EDOs regularly track hundreds of interactions across the communities they serve. EDO teams face challenges in effectively capturing conversational details and prioritizing follow-up tasks. These complexities affect how EDO staffers support stakeholders, ultimately affecting their success.

CRM software helps EDOs better handle these interactions. These tools can provide on-the-fly details of prior communications to create a consistent flow between your EDO staff and hundreds of constituents.

CRMs easily handle multiple stages of community outreach, making it less time-consuming and more effective to engage individuals and institutions in the success of your organization. When it comes time to share these activities with local stakeholders or government funders, a CRM allows robust but tailored reporting on your effectiveness in meeting your mission.

Let’s separate the myths from the facts when considering a CRM for your EDO.

Myths About CRM for EDOs

The reality of CRM platforms is that they are not created equal.

While we cannot speak to all the CRMs in the market today, our team regularly implements Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM for small and large EDOs nationwide. We’ve built enhancements to customize the software for economic development organizations. These customizations streamline and speed up implementation, lowering costs while raising productivity.

When using the Sikich Cloud Nine Economic Development™ for Dynamics 365 CRM (“the EDO Accelerator”) as the model, EDOs find the common myths around CRM applications do not apply.

Myth: Implementing a CRM is not cost-effective for EDOs.

A rumor is circulating that it costs $9,500 to $25,000 to onboard CRM software, even for small EDOs, and that doesn’t include licensing. In the case of Sikich’s EDO Accelerator, this isn’t accurate.

For example, Sikich offers EDOs two CRM implementation options:

  • Do It Yourself (DIY) CRM implementation typically comes with a training guide to self-implement for a one-time fee of $199 per user. Smaller EDOs often use this option, which includes licensing from $38 to $95 per user for the Microsoft platform and the EDO Accelerator.
  • Quick start implementation is typically for mid-size EDOs as it is a robust implementation that includes project management and configuration to meet your business processes. Quick Start costs around $12,000, with $95 per user per month in licensing fees. This service includes integrating with Office 365 and the import/export to Excel features critical for EDOs.

With this myth squashed, it is more expensive to extensively customize Dynamics 365 beyond the EDO Accelerator. However, this kind of customization only occurs in the largest EDOs.

Myth: A CRM is just for selling.

The Economic Development Department of the City of Austin is a case in point for the realities of CRM functionality in the modern EDO.

The City of Austin EDO partnered with Sikich to implement stakeholder relationship management functionality across their organization. The EDO wanted a single source of easily searchable and reportable data, better task management functionality, and a way to handle interactions with residents, small businesses, creative professionals, and nonprofits. They found all this and more in the Sikich EDO Accelerator.

Myth: Marketing software is not included in Dynamics 365 CRM.

Microsoft Dynamics 365’s CRM pricing includes marketing software for real-time reach outs to your constituents via email, text, and push notifications. Microsoft’s built-in marketing software helps you turn prospects into leads, leverage social media, and even run surveys to gain insights into constituents’ needs, wants, and priorities.

The outbound marketing features found in Dynamics 365 are perfect for starting conversations after a virtual or public-facing event. You can set up landing pages or send out a newsletter. Organizations can also use lead scoring to prioritize funding sources, which is all included in the base price of Dynamics 365 CRM.

Myth: Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM won’t work with my organization; it’s too complicated to learn and won’t integrate with legacy tools.

Any software implementation requires a learning curve. Yet more than 90% of businesses with more than 11 employees use CRM software. Would the numbers be this high if the software were that hard to learn or unwieldy to integrate?

The truth is that every software implementation requires learning beyond how to navigate the tool you’ve purchased. Powerful platforms like CRMs also change organizational behaviors and workflows. Change management is a standard best practice.

Most EDOs have used Microsoft products for years. The interfaces and interactions with any Microsoft product feel familiar—like an old friend. Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM integrates well not only with other Microsoft tools you use every day but with other platforms thanks to a robust app store. It doesn’t matter if you’re using MailChimp, Zoom, or Excel; Microsoft is plug-and-play for easy integration.

For 40 years, Microsoft has dominated the business market, with more than 258 million users of Microsoft Office 365. For end-users of these products, a robust Microsoft community forum helps solve training issues.

Myth: Price hikes are common in the CRM industry.

We can’t speak to other CRMs, but Microsoft did not increase prices from 2011 to 2022. A decade without a price increase is unusual for an industry in growth mode. But Microsoft innovated their products for 10 years without raising prices.

In March 2022, there was a 20% price increase on Microsoft Office 365 products in the U.S. These prices increases typically ranged from $1 to $3 per user per month and did not affect education or consumer products, just their business software line.

Myth: Cloud CRM is risky, exposing my EDO to possible cybersecurity breaches.

Cloud-based CRMs like Microsoft Dynamics 365 are more secure than on-premises applications. Data stored in the cloud securely encrypts from transmission through storage. Microsoft spends billions on cybersecurity annually. No matter how large, it’s unlikely that any organization can achieve the same level of security on-site. Most organizations do not have the required financial and staffing resources.

The most significant security breaches have not been in the cloud but in traditional on-premises architectures. Over half of all cybersecurity breaches occur on-premises. For EDOs, Microsoft offers additional security protections with its government cloud, which meets stringent federal, state, and local regulatory guidelines.

Myth: HubSpot offers a better CRM than Microsoft.

Every organization has different requirements. But the reality of HubSpot is that you cannot import Excel data directly into their platform, and it is even harder to export your data out if you decide to switch platforms in the future. That’s a massive problem for Excel-laden EDOs when transitioning to a CRM. So, is HubSpot better than Microsoft’s CRM? The answer is: It depends.

Why Consider Sikich Accelerator for EDOs?

If you’ve heard about the Sikich Accelerator product, we’re not surprised. Cloud Nine Solutions originally developed the software. They were purchased by PA Group USA in 2016 and in turn by Sikich.

During this time, organizational leadership remained consistent, facilitating continued refinements and innovations to the Accelerator product. Today, EDOs nationwide benefit from Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM and the customizations that make it better suited for these unique community services organizations.

If you’re an EDO ready to explore the world of CRM, check out our demo of the Economic Development™ for Dynamics 365 CRM. Or reach out to the CRM experts at Sikich.

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. In addition, this publication may contain certain content generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) language model. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.


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