CRM is such an important part of any business these days, so it’s crucial to know as much about it as possible.
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is an essential tool for any business to be successful. It can help you manage prospecting, customer service, and sales in order to keep track of your leads and customers.
CRM platforms are usually offered by software companies as a part of their suite of products or services. Salesforce is one such company that offers CRM software that has been used by many well-known brands like Google, Apple, IBM, Coca-Cola, etc., but there are other good options out there too!
Do you need a CRM in the first place?
The first question you need to ask yourself before buying a CRM is, do you need one?
Do you need a CRM? Do you want to streamline your customer relationships and increase sales? If so, then this blog post is for you.
A CRM is an essential asset to any business and can elevate your customer experience significantly. On the flip side, they also require a significant investment of time, money, and effort from your organization to be deployed and used successfully.
Signs that your business needs a CRM
Regardless of whether you’re a small business or an enterprise, one thing remains constant. Your success depends on the relationships you build with your customers.
Managing your leads and customers with just an excel sheet can start to take a toll on your sales team and hurt your revenue in the long run. So lookout for the following signs that indicate you need a robust CRM solution.
Questions to ask yourself before considering a CRM:
- You’re not sure how many customers you have
- You need to keep track of all your customer data, but don’t know where to start
- Your sales team is spending more time on administrative tasks than selling products and services
- You want a system that will help you manage campaigns and marketing efforts more efficiently
- Your business has grown too quickly for an Excel spreadsheet or paper-based filing systems
- The staff turnover rate has increased – either due to lack of training or because they are unhappy with the CRM system in place
Difficulty in following up with leads
When you start generating a steadily increasing flow of leads, your sales team may have trouble prioritizing which ones to focus on.
It becomes harder to track the sources of your leads or identify leads worth pursuing. As a result, your sales team often ends up spending their time and effort on unqualified leads that may never close.
Scattered customer information
Often your customer information is spread out across a variety of different mediums. For example, you’ve got contact information in your spreadsheets, your tasks written on sticky notes, and your conversations stored in your emails.
This means that your team will have to endlessly comb through all these different sources to find relevant information when engaging with multiple customers. This ultimately leads to delays in responses and misinformed decision-making.
Poor customer experience
Customers crave personalization these days. They want businesses to understand their needs and engage them with relevant offers and solutions. However, achieving this level of personalization becomes impossible when it’s hard to stay on top of all your interactions with a customer—all their different needs and preferences.
All your interactions end up becoming generic and scripted, which can turn off many prospects from doing business with you.
Connecting with your customers
Modern customers are often active across multiple communication channels, like email, social media, calls, and more. If your business finds it hard to engage with these customers on their preferred channel and keep track of all your previous interactions, you might want to buy a CRM.
Guidelines to buying a CRM for your business
Do a quick online search for the term “CRM”, and you’ll be inundated with results from dozens of vendors all offering their CRM solutions. You may also come across software reviews and aggregator sites offering detailed comparisons between popular CRM vendors.
These can often overwhelm people looking for a CRM for their business. So we’ve put together the following simple guidelines to help businesses of all sizes find the right CRM for them.
What type of CRM do you need?
Are you a small business trying to effectively manage your customer information in a single place while keeping it accessible across different devices? Or, are you a large business trying to manage your end-to-end customer journey and improve customer satisfaction?
Depending on the size of your business, your needs may differ in complexity. This will be reflected in the type of CRM solution you will need.
Ask yourselves the right questions.
Your sales team, decision-makers, and all stakeholders must sit down and ask themselves a series of questions. Answering these questions helps establish your pain points and can help paint a clear picture of what you’re looking for in a CRM.
- Identify the challenges you are trying to address.
- What are the business processes that you need to implement?
- What third-party applications are you using that will need to be integrated?
- How many people would be using the CRM system?
- How much is your business ready to invest in the solution?
Frame your objectives
Once you identify your pain points, you may be tempted to choose a solution that helps you address several immediate challenges. But you will reap the most benefit if you frame your long-term objectives around your CRM process rather than the CRM solution.
It will help you reduce the implementation time, cost, and business complications. But, always remember, The CRM you choose should be molded to fit your business requirements and not the other way around.
CRM is Easy. So why is CRM so complex?
Everyone in the business of CRM shouts from the rooftops that “CRM is easy” and the continuous improvement of new technology getting easier by the day. Not only can you use it with any device anywhere at any time, but you can also even talk to it as of Dynamics 2015 (which comes with Cortana built-in). So how much “easier” can things get?
But this is the problem. The technological aspect and features of CRM are straightforward to use and a great business enabler. However, designing the business element remains so tricky that companies so often fail to address it.
Thinking about your own CRM project, how easy are you finding it to design, implement or increase adoption? I would imagine if I asked a crowded room how many were finding their projects easy, there would hardly be a hand showing.
So why the mismatch? And what can we do to make this easier?
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Systems-First vs Process-First
First, let’s start by explaining my perspective. I think there is a pretty strong case for saying that the software systems from all the major vendors have come on in leaps and bounds over the last few years.
Some companies forget, however, that CRM is not just about a system. It is the overall management of customer relationships. To some extent, this has become harder over the years with multi-channel engagements, new buying processes, live chat, marketing automation, and changing consumer and business behaviors. The CRM has to adapt to fit the business needs, not the other way around.
For many companies, there is often friction between the needs of the sales staff (who often need to enter minimal information quickly) versus the needs of marketing staff who need to profile and segment customers, which requires richer and deeper knowledge.
Combating this is tricky, as it can cause all sorts of problems with inter-departmental relationships. Mainly if the CRM implementation failed to involve their department, and suddenly the workflows and requirements are either too convoluted or not fit for purpose any longer.
A slightly uncomfortable truth some CRM partners might not like to share with you is that their most successful implementations typically benefit from a mixture of “carrot and stick”.
Strangely enough, the slightly old-world approach of “they’ll use it because we tell them to” probably isn’t going to get the job done anymore. So instead, you need to either sell the benefits, incentivize staff, link internal processes (such as lead referral), or try a combination of all 3.
One of our significant clients takes the slightly more novel approach of rewarding staff who use CRM consistently (they can achieve a bonus) and penalizing teams who don’t (they can lose some of their compensation). CRM adoption skyrocketed. You could also incorporate gaming techniques where winners can get prizes both for results and effective use of CRM, whether leads logged, tasks completed, or otherwise.
Another approach one of our clients uses is to tie expense claims to visit reports in their CRM system. No visit report, no expense claim.
The Human Element
But why is all this necessary? Because whilst the software is easy to use, changing habits is not.
Change is rarely easy, and adopting CRM generally means changes to day-to-day working habits as users get used to new systems (even with old processes).
Given that most people lead hectic working lives and are used to working in specific ways, any disruption to that workflow will be unpopular, despite saving them time in the medium term. Timing is also key – one of the key challenges many businesses don’t initially consider.
The bad news is that the time of maximum pain (right at the start/go-live) tends to be the time of minimum gain. So anytime CRM is positioned as a panacea solution to all problems, it is without a doubt that on Day 1, there will be lots of negativity as users cannot get to grips with the new system.
To minimize the pain and maximize early gains, you need to think carefully at the start of the project about what you expect to gain from the system for three key stakeholder groups:
CRM does a great job at providing analytics and insight that is often far in advance of what the company had before and is available 24*7 with little or no effort. Potentially, a quick win.
However, all of the benefits derived for managers are dependent on the “users” actually making use of the system. Failing to ensure users adapt to change can mean that buy-in can be lost early on, and the project will soon fall as managers no longer enforce practices.
Little things can make a big difference, so try to understand your employees’ existing pain points. For example, how long does it take a salesperson to compile their sales forecasts manually? CRM can be a great win for them if you can give them more time to put back into selling.
You can tailor the forms so that different groups of users see only the information they need for their role, laid out in a simple and straightforward format. This can be a powerful way of ensuring every department gets what they need from CRM without losing buy-in, as 20 fields need to be filled out before closing a record.
We see many legacy CRM projects where benefits may have been defined for both managers and users, but there were little if any defined for customers. Don’t forget the “C” in CRM – start your project by asking how you can use these technologies to improve the experience your customers have with you.
More Reasons Why Your Business Needs a CRM Solution
Streamline your sales process
The foremost advantage of a CRM solution is that it accompanies your sales team throughout the entire process of acquiring a lead, converting it into a customer, and closing subsequent opportunities. It’s right there in the name: a CRM will streamline the management of customer relationships.
If your sales team needs help being better organized and working as a unit, then a CRM can help as well. For example, if your team works as a group on a particular project, or if certain members handle different parts of a chain, then coordinating tasks can be complex. The right CRM solution can let you program customer-related tasks and assign them to members of your team.
This way, every salesperson has a defined role and clear objectives. As a result, no sales opportunity will go ignored, and no one on your team will be left hanging.
Centralize customer information
A CRM solution will keep customer information in individual files. These files can be fleshed out with new data with each new development of your relationship with a customer. Every phone call, email, contract, offer, etc., will be kept in one convenient place.
Your whole team will access this information and update it so that everyone stays on the same page. This will save your team time and effort since they won’t have to scramble to access a client’s file in a pinch.
Moreover, centralizing and digitalizing sensitive customer information is more secure than keeping paper files. Storing data on the cloud means it will be accessible to your team from anywhere in real-time, so long as they have an internet connection. In addition, most SaaS CRM providers include regular backups of your data, thus being proactive in the case of disaster recovery. Moreover, your files are less likely to be misplaced, lost, or accidentally destroyed if they are digitalized: the cloud is much more secure than most realize.
Lastly, your CRM solution can be integrated with the rest of the software your business uses daily. Consequently, you can keep track of support tickets, phone calls, live chats, emails for each client right in their files.
You can cross-reference with your calendar to schedule appointments and stick to deadlines. This allows your team to refer to their CRM for direction since both your customers’ information and your team’s schedules are gathered in a single interface.
Accompany the customer journey
In your CRM, you will be able to plan your course of action. Rather than relying on a spreadsheet, planner, or (god forbid) a Rolodex, a course of action can be laid out every step of the way. For example, this will allow your sales team to focus on closing rather than spending time doing paperwork.
Your CRM will allow you to quickly identify and follow up on promising leads. It will keep track of the process of signing a new customer, so the latter’s specific information is available to the whole team, both sales, and support. Finally, it will remind you to stay in contact with a customer at regular intervals to encourage product adoption and stay on top of solved support tickets.
Lastly, monitoring a customer’s involvement with your business can help your team identify cross- or up-selling opportunities, thereby organically growing your business while helping customers succeed.
All of this means getting closer to your customers, being proactive, and keeping your finger on the pulse of individual customers’ needs and expectations to better satisfy them. Implementing a CRM solution can drive customer retention and mitigate churn.
The entire customer journey is tracked in your CRM solution, visible to your whole team, and accessible for reference every time a specific customer gets in touch. As a result, your CRM solution can become the hub around which your entire sales strategy is organized.
Foster inter-departmental cooperation
Since your CRM can gather all types of information, it can be the rallying point for the different departments in your company. However, coordinating sales, support, marketing, and development is a tricky affair, and without smooth cooperation between those teams, the customers will suffer and churn.
Lack of inter-departmental cooperation is the source of many pain points for customers. You can use a CRM solution to assign tasks and see how those tasks fill out the bigger picture.
Thanks to a standard interface, everyone can access and add to the information in your CRM. Consequently, you can empower your staff to work collaboratively rather than concurrently by sharing insight, leads, issues, and solutions.
Moreover, sharing information, goals, and incentives across your teams improves productivity and efficiency. With the right CRM solution, you can avoid siloing information and help disparate departments work like a well-oiled machine.
It was, is, and always will be easy to deploy a great CRM project quickly, successfully, and with minimal investment with all your technical ducks in a row. Just make sure you factor in the human element before beginning your CRM implementation.
If in doubt, remember to follow these five key steps.
- Keep it simple – having a long term vision is excellent, but trying to do it all in one go is probably not such a good idea. Do it in stages.
- Bad data + new system = Bad system. Look at your existing data quality before you migrate it all into a new CRM
- Involve users as well as Managers when planning your implementation. Build cross-company focus groups
- Focus on the necessary. Integration is often a long-term key to success but a short-term threat. Do you have to have complete systems integration in Phase 1?
- Find the carrots! Try to find at least one for each user role. If you can’t, then try again & if you still can’t, then think about what you’re going to do to help people adopt the system