An Ultimate Comparison of Custom Vs. Off-The-Shelf CRM Software Solutions

by Polina S. & JoinSoft Team
by Polina S. & JoinSoft Team
Technical writer
14 Aug 2020
Reading Time: 12 minutes

Ever noticed how easy it is to get lost searching a suitable tool for your firm? You can spend hours browsing the web and end up confused.

According to Statista, CRM usage will skyrocket in the near future. Get this. 2020 per employee budget worldwide amounts to $11.13 but it will surge and almost triple in 5-year period.

If you still don’t know whether to buy vs. build crm software, we’ve got your back. Today, we promise to take the search burden off your shoulders. Why do we say this? After reading this article you will have all the info necessary to make an informed decision. Let’s jump right in.



Difference Between Off-The-Shelf and Custom CRM Systems



Difference Between Off-The-Shelf and Custom CRM Systems


Before we go any further, learn what a tailor-made CRM in comparison to a ready-made solution is. The latter is like a prêt-à-porter collection in fashion: you buy something and you can wear it right after.


When you pay for off-the-shelf management software, you get a ready-made package. But before you can use it, a third-party provider will have to help you with the installation. He will need to adjust the system so it accommodates your operations. It sounds simple. But it isn’t. Because you will have to look for such a service provider first.


With the custom-made CRM, it’s more like an haute couture piece made to delight a single client. What might seem like an unnecessary investment at the start will always be  in vogue. Why?


Read more



Off-The-Shelf CRM Software Benefits


Be honest. It’s the question you ask yourself. What are the benefits of off-the-shelf crm products? Check this out:


Onboarding sessions

Most CRM providers offer onboarding packages. Using their software can be challenging for a newbie. You will find some video tutorials or online webinars and how-to guides that your team can watch at any time.


Quick setup

Listen: a cloud-based ready-made CRM is usually quick to set up. The step-by-step wizard should be straightforward and simple.


But if you’re not sure you can do it yourself or afraid to mess up, ask for assistance.


It’s not that complicated for an expert who’s worked with dozens of programs like this. After all, you don’t want to rack your brains over the installation.


Free test

Most software companies will offer you a demo and some time to play with their product. The latter they call a free trial. During it, you and your team can decide whether the solution meets your expectations.


Affordable product

Here’s the secret. Companies selling ready-to-buy tools have to be competitive to stay afloat. Thus, they offer some handsome prices as well as even better ones for those buyers signing up for the first time.


There are quite a few off-the-shelf crm software advantages. But its cost along with its integration time are determining factors for many.


User-generated content

As a company owner, you will be keen on hearing not only what a sales manager of CRM says. What if he is just good at marketing? On top of a promising sales copy, the voice of an end-consumer can help make informed decisions.


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When a Ready-Made CRM Solution Isn’t an Option?


And we’re done talking about ready-made CRM benefits. You’re ready to see another side of the same coin. Yes. We’re talking about drawbacks now.

But before we go deeper into that. Earlier we noted that the upfront cost of an off-the-shelf CRM is relatively low. Here’s the thing. This wow-factor has a short-term effect. Sooner or later you might need an all-encompassing engine to run your firm. The turn-off? Each component might come with a separate subscription.


Let’s have a look at Salesforce’s cloud-based CRM for sales. They suggest you buy it at a monthly $150. And that’s just one single user. Imagine. The headcount of your sales unit is 10 x 12 months = $18K. Boom! Approximately $20K to equip only a part of your squad. What about your marketing team? Surprise-surprise. That’s a separate bill. Yes, you’ve got it right.

Now let’s move forward. See why else an off-the-mill CRM might not be a sure win.


Redundant functionality

Sales analytics, forecasting, reports, and dashboards… How many of these does your team use daily? The truth is there will be quite a few that you won’t need. Ever. Monitoring and tracking customer interactions within your firm are essential. There’re tools for that. But paid extra?


Everything beyond required functionality is extra costs.


Limited customization

Unfortunately, you will not be able to tweak and tune ready-to-use CRM easily. This is the part where your team growth comes into the picture and changes it. Alternatively, your wish to scale might cause a necessity to add another feature.


Updates and versions

Does this sound familiar? Often these updates won’t work for you. Usually, developers use versions to polish inconsistencies and deal with bugs. But there are cases when they remove features or turn those into less useful ones.


No competitive edge

Are you sick and tired of your competitors stealing your customer base one client after another? Well, if so, going for an off-the-shelf offering won’t change the situation for the better. You won’t be far ahead of your competition because they might be having the exact same tools.


When you license software, its owners can make any changes without your sign-off.


Steep learning curve

There’s a likelihood a ready-made option is complex and takes too much time to master. The time that you will have to spend at work beyond regular hours. Unfortunately, many robust software packages come with not very user-friendly features and tools.



Reasons to Choose Custom CRM Software


Let us guess. By now you’ll be wondering what pros of creating a customized crm solution are. We will tighten up our prose and  go over each of the benefits  one by one.


Custom Vs. Off-The-Shelf CRM



Tailor-made to fit your goals

We have already mentioned that a tech partner designs a custom product to meet every need of yours. This means that it fits your corporate processes and reflects internal procedures. Why bother adjusting to software if it can adapt to you?


Easy to customize

No, you’re not dreaming. The opportunities to change software built from scratch are limitless. Do you want to tweak your sales component? Easy. Does your team need a more robust scheduling feature? Call up your tech partner to add that agility.


Your own idea and development

One more perk among all the beauty of DIY CRM is that you’re a sole owner of the product. Good news.You won’t have to bear any overhead costs paying for licences or renew subscription every year.


Quick to scale any time

Another benefit of custom vs. off-the-shelf CRM is its flexibility. If you plan to explore a new market, it will be easier to accommodate new processes as your company grows. Make it clear to your vendor what exactly you want an extra functionality to be.


Integration with other apps

Your tech partner will know you personally. Chances are you’d develop a good rapport while building the system. So he will make sure you can connect to other inhouse applications. Thus, integration should be considered when you compare ready-made crm vs. custom crm.



Custom CRM Systems Disadvantages


Perhaps unsurprisingly, customizable crm software pros and cons go together. And it’s time to unveil the mystery and tell you what’s not so good about a tailored solution. Ready?


Significant costs

No wonder good things cost good money. Well, you won’t regret it. But there’s a question to ask here. How much can you cut from your income and invest in development? In other words, you will have to sacrifice some momentary things for the sake of future ROIs.


Time-consuming process

Money is not the only issue, right? When you do not have much time on your hands, every day counts. You might be losing qualified leads while your custom instrument is still work in progress. This is where custom vs. ready-made crm-system loses another point.


Wrong focus

To make matters worse, let’s talk about focus. Is it in the right place or does it need a shift? What if your priorities are wrong? Often, we mix wants with needs. Only this time this confusion will cost you. You might pay for a useless instrument if your requirements reflect your wants.


Semi-qualified vendor

Anything can happen. So you might pick a wrong subcontractor. How? There’re many software development companies but not all deliver on their promise. And you know what? First impressions might be wrong. You might bump in the one unqualified for the job.


Conduct a thorough research and do not jump into conclusions when choosing a vendor.


Maintenance and assistance

When you subscribe to a CRM service, you do not have the pain of maintenance. However, if you build a CRM, you will have to maintain the software through its lifecycle. Put it another way.  Technical support and post-development costs will eat some of your returns on investment.



Comparison of Off-the-Shelf Vs. Custom-Built CRM Systems


Let us guess. You’re still not sure which one customized CRM or off-the-shelf solution you need, are you? We’ve made this table to sum up our quest for truth. But the truth is not the same for everyone. We bet you’ll figure it out with all the necessary info at hand. Let’s get to the point.


Ready-made CRM Bespoke CRM

✔️ User training sessions to onboard your team in no time

✔️ Quick installation and set-up – that’s a standard procedure

✔️ Free trial to test the waters and decide if a solution is worth paying for

✔️ Affordable cost of a ready-to-use corporate instrument

✔️ Users’ testimonials to consider on top of a sales manager’s presentation


✔️ Tailor-made to fit your goals and outsmart your competition has no clue about

✔️ Easy to customize and add game changing features

✔️ Your own idea and development to get more high-quality leads

✔️ Quick to scale any time you decide to expand operations

✔️ Integration with other apps to finetune your process webs


✔️ Functionality you might not need or use occasionally

✔️ Not much room for customizing if you want to add functionality on top

✔️ Overwhelming updates you might not be ready to deal with

✔️ Limited competitive advantage as your rivals will have it too (most likely)

✔️ Learning curve might take tons of time. The time you don’t have


✔️ Significant upfront costs not everyone can afford to bear

✔️ Time-consuming process that requires your participation

✔️ You might miscalculate priorities and create a redundant instrument

✔️ Semi-qualified vendor that can let you down

✔️ Maintenance and support can be a future headache



Tips for Choosing a Perfect CRM Software Solution for Your Business


You’ve made it. All the way here. OK, we know what you’re thinking. “Knowing all the tips on what to look for in management software, how do I choose that one and only?” That’s the question we’d ask ourselves, too. Let us show you how a simple checklist can help. Bear with us. There’re a few bullet-points left to cover.


Tips for Choosing a Perfect CRM Software Solution for Your Business



a. Decide on your end goals

Define what you aim at. Be as specific as you can. Decide what you want at the start. We promise it will be much easier to take off if you lay a strong foundation for your search.


The first thing to do is to determine the essentials of a product you want to buy or create. Operational, analytical, or strategic type of CRM? The choice will depend on where you need to level up your game.


But that’s not all. Think of users. Ask yourself: who needs CRM in your company? That’s another point to consider. In the end, you want to speed up the success of your firm and cover every meaningful touchpoint.



b. Conduct research

Once  you’re done exploring the market, narrow down the options to 3-5 companies. After, you have your short-list ready, take a close-up look at the packages each of the vendors offers. As an end-consumer, you have to decide what it is that you need. There is a chance you’ll require to mix and match and pick a few offerings to suit your operations.



c. Find a middle ground

Price vs functionality. Let us take a wild guess. You are asking yourself what if I like more or less a few options I chose but none really strikes that balance? On the one hand, option #1 seems legit but it lacks a few functions. Or, another option is too costly but has a pretty good feature set. Then one needs to go for a custom CRM solution.



d. Check companies’ expertise

Why is this so? Have a look at what their subject-matter expertise is. Is it within your niche?


How do you like the offered workflow? The trick is to pay attention to vendors’ communication style. Do they get back to you promptly? Do they address all the points you discuss and follow up? If you don’t like how they act at the start, it makes no sense to move forward and plan anything with such a laid-back partner.


Next, see what kind of contract they can offer. Fixed price, T&M, or a dedicated team – ask details about each type of collaboration to decide what floats your boat.


Beyond that, assess their technology stack. Do you have any specific programming language in mind? Can they suggest what will work for your software and explain why?


Similarly, years of professional experience matter. We would suggest you go for a tech partner that has stuff with 5 years + working history. So what’s it all about? Well, you don’t want any college grads experimenting with your project, do you?


Finally, see if they agree to sign an NDA. A custom CRM they promise to deliver is your intellectual property that you don’t want anyone to copy.



Bottom line:


Now let’s take it somewhere awesome – to the end. Only a thorough research and the tips we shared here will help you decide if you should buy vs. build crm software. But here’s something really interesting.


Fact. We speak from our experience. If you’re in a never-ending battle with your doubts, drop us a line. JoinSoft can separate your wants from your real requirements.




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