CRM Pricing: Why Retainers Make Sense

After your company decides to implement a CRM solution, such as GoldMine sales software, the next step will be choosing a consultant. Your payment arrangement with the consultant, in many ways, will impact both the pricing of the overall project, and oftentimes, your relationship with the consultant.

Most consultants work for their clients on either an hourly or retainer basis. Hourly consultants will charge a particular hourly amount for their time spent consulting, training or implementing your program. Hourly rates may even be different depending on the nature of the service (i.e. Consulting $175/hr vs. Training $165/hr vs. Programming $150/hr). In a retainer arrangement, an agreed upon fee is charged each month, or each quarter, regardless of the specific service or time spent on the project.

When considering CRM pricing, with products such as GoldMine sales software, establishing a retainer arrangement with your consultant can be most beneficial for several reasons:

1) Retainers Usually Cover Everything. Many times CRM consulting firms offer hourly charges for servicing the technical aspects of the project, while other services such as reconfiguration, reporting and training are handled on an additional project basis. Retainer fees are usually all inclusive, with the expectation that the retainer fee will apply to all areas of the CRM project implementation, from consulting, through rollout, and reconfigurations and training. This allows the client to have all of their needs met without the constant decision making of whether to spend more hourly dollars on other aspects, such as training, that are often skipped, but are critically important to the overall success of the project.

2) Retainers Make Budgeting Easier. There are no billing surprises for the client in a retainer relationship. The charge from the CRM firm is the same from month to month, or annually, making it easy to forecast and budget for the future.

3) Retainer clients tend to get high priority. By initiating a retainer relationship, the client has demonstrated its faith and commitment to the project and CRM consultant in a long term relationship. In turn, the CRM consultant will be motivated to do everything necessary to preserve the relationship. This translates to a heightened level of customer service for the client and the client usually has greater success in the rollout and adoption of the CRM solution across their company.

4) Retainers Prevent Conflicts & Disappointments. Squabbles about hourly time spent and rates are the most common consulting problems that breakdown relationships. Instead of focusing on the project at hand, valuable time is lost focused on billing matters. In a retainer relationship, clients have license to call at will, whenever a problem arises. At the end of the month when the client receives their bill, they need not go over every invoice with a fine tooth comb to make sure they have been billed fairly. Also, there is an expectation to do things quickly, which is not necessarily the case with an hourly arrangement.

5) Retainers Build Relationships. A paid-hourly CRM consultant moves from the position of “vendor” to the position of ” trusted adviser” when they assume a retainer relationship with their client. The client’s services are no longer reactive, but proactive. The continued success of the consultant is tied to the success of the client. The relationship itself carries the invitation to help solve whatever problem arises, whenever it arises.

When comparing CRM pricing, whether it be GoldMine sales software or another brand, a retainer arrangement might seem like an unnecessarily high upfront cost on the surface. However, because of the nature of the retainer relationship, the client can be assured it is the most cost-effective, productive way to develop a successful business relationship and guarantee a successful CRM implementation.