Why you should know how to cancel your CRM before you sign up

The most important thing to know before committing to a CRM, would be to know if there are any rules about cancelling. This is why.
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It's important to know how to cancel your CRM before you even sign up for an account because it often comes with stipulations you might not have anticipated.

Many CRMs make signing up for an annual contract fast and easy, but they often come with some fine print that you might have missed. The most important thing to know before committing to a CRM, would be to know if there are any rules about cancelling. Will there be a refund? Will there be a fee? Who can cancel? Will your data be deleted?

I've reviewed the cancellation policies of 20 popular CRMs, and read all the fine print. Here's what I've learned.

If decide to pay annually, you likely will not be able to cancel before the year ends.

You either will not be able to end the contract at all until the term ends, or you can cancel the use of the CRM but still have to continue paying for the rest of the time you've signed on for. I.e. no refunds.

For example, Hubspot requires you to pay for your full commitment term even if you cancel before then. I.e. if your commitment term is 12 months, you'll still need to pay for the remaining 9 months even if you cancel 3 months in.

If decide to pay annually, you likely will not be able to switch to a different pricing plan until a specific period of time has passed.

If you change your mind and want to switch from annual to monthly billing, this is often either impossible, or requires you to stick to the annual plan for an amount of time before you can make a change.

For example, Nimble only allows you to switch from an annual to a monthly plan 30 days before your annual plan is completed (i.e. after a full year).

There is often a "cancel by" date each month you need to be aware of. If you cancel after this date, you will still have to pay for the next month.

This "cancel by" date is normally 7-90 days before your next bill. If you try to cancel after this date has passed, it will not be honored and you will need to wait till the next cancellation period.

Some CRMs will include this date on your monthly invoice, and some CRMs will include friction in this process: you either need to file a request, write a letter, or speak to a representative directly in order to cancel. And all of this needs to be done before this 'cancel by' date.

For example, Keap/Infusionsoft requires you to speak to a rep or fill out the cancellation form at least 10 days before your next invoice before you can officially cancel.

Exporting features may be hard to find, or exports might be in a format you are unfamiliar with (e.g. a .db file is harder to use that an .xls export).

Perhaps you'll need to chat with a representative to run an export, or perhaps the export file is in a format you can't work with. These factors will determine whether or not you're able to seamlessly migrate to another CRM system on your own, or if you would need to pay for a "migration expert" to work with unfamiliar files.

Worse yet, a CRM company might not even tell you that cancelling an account means an immediate data purge -- meaning that if you forget to export, you've lost your data.

For example, Maximizer gives you a backup of your database in a .BAK file (and charges a Backup Request fee). Only specific programs can open a .BAK file.

All CRMs will only allow specific users or administrators to cancel the account. If you're not signing on to be an administrator, you will not be able to close the account even if it's not a fit for you.

In order to close an account, you will likely need to be an administrator, but some CRMs will require you to be the account owner, the billing user etc. It's important to know who has the ability to close an account instead of finding out later on that the wrong person on your team is given this authority.

This is the case with all CRMs, but some CRM companies may have additional rules: for example, a Monday.com account can only be closed by an administrator, and only on the web version (not in the app).

In sum: Knowing a CRM's cancellation policy needs to be part of your vetting process.

Reach out to the support team, read their cancellation policies, and make sure you know how to opt out of what you're signing for before you even sign up. With how complicated pricing and subscriptions can get today, not only is it important for you to know whether you can afford a CRM, you need to know if you can afford to cancel a CRM.

If you're not sure where to find these policies, or just want to skim through what you can expect, here's my guide to cancelling the 20 most popular CRMs on the market today.

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