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How to find the best Membership CRM system

Finding the best membership CRM software shouldn’t feel like climbing a mountain. After all, you’ve got members to manage and an organisation to grow.  So, whether you’re new to the world of member CRM, currently weighing up the best CRM membership management system for your organisation, or have decided on a Microsoft Dynamics 365 membership management system, here is what you need to know before you sign on the dotted line.

When it comes to CRM for membership organisations, many claim to offer the latest, the greatest and the best membership management software. But if you’re a membership organisation, how, exactly, do you know what’s best for you?

Amidst the noise of a plethora of membership software companies vying for your business, how can you quickly and effectively establish the difference between an online membership system, a membership CRM platform and a membership management system? In fact, is there even a difference?

If you’ve suddenly found yourself saying ‘I need a new membership CRM system’, or have been asking yourself ‘what membership management software should I use?’, then the following information may be useful.

Membership database management in 2022

This year’s Digital Excellence Report by Memberwise, an independent professional network that provides practical help and support to over 6,500 membership and association professionals based in the UK and overseas, revealed that the top six priorities for the membership sector in 2021/22 are:

  1. Member engagement
  2. New member acquisition
  3. Member retention
  4. Member value
  5. Member satisfaction
  6. Member participation


Given that effective member relationship management can address all six priorities, it’s important that we clearly define exactly what constitutes CRM for membership organisations – or, at least, explain why a membership CRM system, as opposed to a generic CRM system, is what membership organisations need.


5 Reasons to use Membership Management System


The following five aspects are worth considering before investing in membership management software:

Specificity is everything
When choosing a membership CRM supplier, make sure that they specialise in producing CRM for membership organisations. To do otherwise is akin to expecting the finest French cuisine in an Italian restaurant. It might be possible, but you’re immediately reducing your chances of success the moment you enter a place that doesn’t specialise in what you’re looking for. To help you in your search for the best membership management software and give yourself the greatest chance of success, rule out general CRM suppliers and those without any experience in supporting membership organisations. It really will pay dividends long term.


Credibility counts
The membership CRM landscape is large and varied. On one hand you have small organisations that have created their own bespoke membership management software. On the other, you have member CRM systems built on the latest technology launched by global institutions such as Microsoft. The ultimate decision is likely to be based on budget. However, a membership CRM system is a large investment and one that you want to get right the first time. Smaller membership CRM companies might be less expensive, but can their technology scale in line with your organisation – and what happens to your investment if they go out of business? Membership CRM software built around Microsoft Dynamics 365 might be more expensive, but at least you have peace of mind when it comes to security, longevity and credibility.


Ease of use is critical

If you and your members are using a member CRM system day in, day out, then it needs to be easy to use. It also needs to provide what you and your members need quickly, save you time and money through making day-to-day operations easy to execute and require less manual customisation – a process that can take huge amounts of time in itself. A CRM supplier that doesn’t have experience of catering to membership organisations will not have the sufficient knowledge and skills to be able to do this. Well, they might – but they’ll need significant direction from you and the level of customisation required is likely to carry huge cost. 

When commissioning membership CRM software, you need to rely on membership experts who, after working with membership organisations, know exactly what you might need now – and in the future. You can’t be expected to brief a supplier on this. As they say, you don’t know what you don’t know. When it comes to choosing a membership management system, the dog needs to wag the tail – not the other way around.


Reinventing the wheel is expensive (and unnecessary)

Existing membership CRM software built by membership CRM specialists will have typically undergone thousands of hours of software development to get to where it is. Of course, things change over time and features and processes need to be updated. However, upgrading an existing member CRM platform is much easier, quicker and cheaper than building a new one. Don’t get led to believe that you need to have something built from the ground up. You don’t. And with a number of membership CRM system providers that provide out-of-the-box solutions and offer an extremely rich feature set, why would you want to?


One platform, multiple tools

There are many aspects to consider in order to deliver effective membership management. From membership billing software to membership registration software for events and courses, your membership organisation needs to keep a number of plates spinning at all times. Not only that, but you ideally want to manage everything under one easy-to-use membership management platform. Find a membership CRM system that can deliver everything that you need and seamlessly integrate every aspect of membership management. Remember, whatever system you choose must be secure, reliable and supported by one company. Avoid a situation where you’re reliant on multiple companies, each of which deliver one function.



Need membership CRM advice from membership CRM experts?


Contact the Silverbear Team 

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