Same, same but different.

How do you spot a CRM Partner superstar?

The 5 hard questions you need to ask a prospective CRM partner

“Honestly, CRMs are all the same. And professional services firms (such as yours) are too. So, what’s in for me?”

You’d be forgiven for thinking that all CRMs and professional services firms are the same.

We all say the same reassuring things, have slick PowerPoint presentations, tout the new and amazing features of the CRM application we are selling, and can save the world and your business from certain destruction. Right?

But if you’re taking a first look, how do you choose the right partner? What really counts when you’re making your decision? And what questions should you be asking to help you sort out the superstars from the snowflakes?

We took a long, hard look at ourselves, and the things our customers – both happy and unhappy – told us made the difference for them. We’re happy to share the benefit of our experience to help you make the right decision for your business.

The 5 questions that might be hard to ask, but are well worth the effort:

  1. What happens when it’s all over? Is it money paid, sayonara babe? All too often you’re front of mind while the project’s in progress, and you’re a ready stream of income to your partner. But what happens post-project? What’s the plan for service and support? And will the solution simply stagnate until it’s upgrade time and your partner wants more money?

  2. Do you have an A Team? It’s sad but all too often true that the A Team you grow to love and believe in during the presentation stage, are not always the same team that will roll up to deliver the project. Ask who you will be working with, and if not the people you’ve met (after all, people do have holidays and take new jobs), then who will replace them? And if you simply don’t mesh with the new person - what happens then?

  3. How do we know we can trust you? Ask for proof of delivery. Check out the partner’s website references and ask for a minimum of three verbal or visit reference sites where the customer is in the same industry or has a similar business profile. And when you talk to referees don’t just ask about budget, timing and delivery (as this can often be skewed by factors beyond the control of the partner). Ask about the relationship. How their people interacted with your people, dealt with issues, provided solutions and ultimately met your business objectives.

  4. How do you work? Is it a matter of ‘us and you’? Cultural alignment is seriously important. You’re going to make a significant investment in the future of your business, so you need to know that the processes to get there and the final outcome matters as much to your partner as it does to you. So, ask what happens when things go wrong? Side note: if they say nothing will go wrong, we suggest you treat it as a red flag. And ask who is going to be listening. And how high up, if we have an issue?

  5. What’s the product roadmap? You’ll note that this question is at the end of the list, and for good reason. If you throw enough time and money at a product at any given point of time it will do the job – for the time being anyway. (However, we say people are more important!) But even the most talented consultants can’t overcome a solution which is still on-premise, short on features, has low user numbers, insufficient R&D investment and a roadmap that doesn’t extend beyond a couple of years. The idea is to move your business forward, not to tread water.

The winning answers (with a little help from our customers)


A great partner doesn’t love and leave you. They have a well-developed customer care programme which provides day-to-day break-fix support to keep you running smoothly, development resources for ongoing projects, and ongoing educational events, training and networking. And through regular account meetings, they maintain a tight focus on ‘where to from here’ so you are staying at the top of your game.

"I just wanted to let you know about our recent experience with one of your specialists. We were recently put onto Linda for our CRM support and changes, and I have to let you know that the experience has been excellent.  We find her to be proactive, with an excellent manner – and has pretty much completed all that we asked for and researched everything else! Keep up the good work - and give her a pat on the back!" 


Ian knows our system inside out and gets on to requests very quickly. Ian explains everything very well and clearly knows his stuff! We think the sun shines out of Ian and that NZ Spinal Trust is very well cared for when he is involved."​


An all-round investment in amazing people, not just an A team.

“Michael has been fantastic. He really understands the business process and has been really good to work with.”


“Linda has been fantastic and very, very patient.”


“Life Care Consultants have a high level of confidence in Amelia and Fusion5 to deliver their latest IT project. Amelia’s common-sense approach and respectful way of breaking down knowledge silos and barriers has meant that LCC really feel that the project belongs to them and represents the business. Life Care Consultants employees are excited to implement the new systems in October.”


Real evidence

“Life Care Consultants have had mixed results from IT implementations in the past. The professionalism around the way the project is being run by Tom has demonstrated how a project can be successfully project managed and provide the business with a steady stream of information on milestones and deliverables.  The level of confidence in this project is very high.”


Collaboration and culture

Cultural alignment is all about attitude and behaviour. It’s the difference between having an issue and together working out a positive, equitable solution, or reaching an embittered impasse which requires senior intervention. One builds rewarding relationships, the other draws rigid lines between ‘you’ and ‘them’. Your partner needs to listen, not lecture. Offer leadership, not a dictatorship. Work collaboratively, not combatively. And if you do want to talk to the ‘boss’, you need to know she or he will pick up the phone and be an impartial arbitrator.

“Fusion5 has delivered the goods,” says Iles. “Understanding our business, working with us, being part of our team and staying relevant to our team is really important. Fusion5 scored well.”


“We have more than just a relationship with Fusion5,” says Van der Lith. “It may be an overused term, but it’s more like a partnership. This was a well-managed and executed project with great collaboration between Barnardos and Fusion5. It was a great team effort, with the business clearly top of mind. Fusion5’s high-quality work and commitment to understanding the detail of what we do was instrumental in making this project a success.” 


Product roadmap

A leading solution will have a well-defined roadmap, a committed schedule of upcoming releases, and a generous R&D budget. It will support, if not accelerate your Information System Strategic Plan (ISSP), enable you to automate processes, democratise data and improve customer end employee relationships. You won’t be left in the lurch if it’s retired, and as it reflects best practice, you won’t be locked into expensive customisations to achieve your business objectives. And it will rank well in the annual Gartner Magic Quadrant for CRM. If you check out the link, you’ll see the only concerns are about vendor competence and resources, not the solution – in which case see questions 1-4.


We all like to think that we stand out from the crowd. That we’re not just another (somewhat faceless) professional services organisation. If we go by our own internal hype, then yes, we are all unique. But what makes an organisation like Fusion5 stand out from the crowd is what our customers and peers say about us.

Yes, we are a multi-award-winning Microsoft partner. These awards recognise our commitment to be the best in our field, and helping our customers achieve genuinely value-adding business outcomes. So, you know that we know what we’re doing. We have the skills and competencies to deliver great projects.

But best of all is what our customers say about us. Warm, heart-felt comments that show we’re trusted long-term partners.

Talk to us about our customer care programme, our well-above-average people, our customer evidence, our culture, and our success with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement.



Great outcomes start with great conversations