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Best practices

10 Steps to a Perfect-Fit Admissions and Enrollment CRM

by Erin Newton · Sep 30, 2019

The who, what, and when of evaluating and selecting a CRM for higher education.

A girl is working on a laptop with scattered papers, a cell phone, and a glass of water next to her.

Choosing a new or your first admissions and enrollment CRM can be a daunting prospect. The dynamics and requirements involved in software decisions varies from school to school. Whatever your situation, it’s important to have a solid plan that strikes a balance between getting everyone’s input and arriving at a timely decision.

Below is a step-by-step approach that you can adapt to your needs. It will help you efficiently determine must-have features and evaluate vendors. Plus, it’ll ensure buy-in from your team and other stakeholders.

For more assistance, download our full guide to choosing an admissions and enrollment CRM.

When to begin your search: Start the selection and implementation process at any time rather than try to sync it with a new enrollment cycle. 

It’s actually advantageous to launch aspects of your CRM program, such as communications with juniors and sophomores, during a recruitment cycle. The real-world environment can help smooth out any unanticipated issues. You can take more time to transition things like applications to the new system.

A table is describing major milestones when researching a CRM and a proposed timeline.

4. Determine Requirements

Gather your project team for a hands-on session to decide what you really need out of your potential CRM. (Use the template in the full guide to map out required features.) 

5. Select Around 5 Potential CRMs

Using your requirements as a guide, come up with around 5 CRMs/vendors that seem like a good fit. Generate the list by having project team members search online, ask colleagues at other schools, and get ideas from professional social media groups. Make your list with your budget in mind, but don’t completely rule out options that may seem too expensive. Special pricing and packages may be available. 

6. See Demos of Potential CRMs, Eliminate Any Bad Fits

Have the project manager schedule demos with the potential CRMs. As many project members as possible should attend each demo. If there are any options that are clearly not going to work out, scratch them off the list.

7. Write an RFP (If Applicable)

If your school requires that you go through a request for proposal process, use the requirements as a base for the RFP document. Share it with the vendors you’re considering. 

8. Ask Follow Up Questions

After seeing the demos or receiving a proposal or other materials the vendor may provide, gather remaining questions from the team and submit them to the vendors.

9. Narrow to 3 Candidates, Possible Second Demo 

Decide which 3 CRMs best meet your technical, budget, and other requirements and will be the best partners to work with. 

For the project team’s final decision making, consider setting up a second demo to review features you want to see again and clarify anything the team needs additional information about. Consider inviting other stakeholders whose opinion and inclusion in the process will be beneficial (IT, marketing department, faculty representative).

10. Choose Your CRM

Discuss the pros and cons of the finalists to decide which CRM you want to implement. Put it to a vote if there isn’t a definitive winner.

Additional Resources

Our technology and admissions experts can help you select the right CRM. Get in touch:

Or download our full guide to choosing an admissions and enrollment CRM.


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