Getting the Most From Your CRM

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems lead to a better overall customer experience.  CRM software has evolved from a simple contact management system into a robust tool that lets you manage sales, marketing, social media, point-of-sale (POS), accounting, vendor and other types of operational data, all in one solution.

Customers are more easily and accurately segmented, their needs identified, and because the status of a company’s relationship with them is accurately tracked, companies can interact with them meaningfully at the right times, leading to more sales, faster sales and higher customer retention and satisfaction.

CRMs help store information in easy to access databases instead of storing them haphazardly.   A good CRM tool, like Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics or Hubspot, can help make your marketing efforts much more efficient and effective by optimising the way you maintain records about your leads and current customers.

According to CRM experts, it’s never too early to get a CRM – you should invest right away.  Studies on CRMs show that a CRM, on average, returns $5.60 for every $1.00 spent. Brent Leary, who co-founded CRM Essentials, explained in a Hubspot interview:  “In today’s world, you need to have a customer engagement process right from the very beginning.  If you start blogging and somebody likes what you’re writing about and they want to learn more, you have to have an engagement process that helps you respond  quickly and effectively so you can keep the momentum going.”

However, the technology that makes up CRM will only take you so far.  If you want your CRM solution to be really effective, you need to focus on important CRM best practices which include (but are not limited to):

Identify the business problems.   What are your needs and goals and what do you hope to accomplish?  What problems will it solve? What processes can be improved?”  Develop your strategy with realistic goals and establish metrics for measuring progress.

Understanding the Users – understanding not only how users across the business (from sales, IT, marketing, customer service to finance) work, but why they work that way.  What efficiencies will the CRM provide and importantly how will the CRM improve their lives, as opposed to being just another process for them to follow.   By taking into account the needs and preferences of those who will be using the CRM, you will stand a better chance of a smoother and quicker adoption.

CRM to be customised and scaleable –  ensure the tool can provide a tailored solution for your business not only today but as your business grows.

Provide proper training and support – as part of the change management process, it’s important you ensure all staff understands why a CRM is needed and that they are comfortable using it.  Training is essential for users and requires a customised approach for groups and individuals.  This may include marketing training focusing on things like contact segmentation, list building, event management and reporting; sales teams need to learn tasks and tools to enhance their productivity and processes to improve their close rates.  Managers need to learn to glean insights from relevant metrics and reports.  And it’s important not to forget that training must be ongoing.

Roll out in phases –  Jeff Lumsden, senior manager of CRM product management at Oracle Sales Cloud advises that “Rolling out a new solution is a balancing act between time, functionality and value.”  Do it too quickly, and you risk overwhelming users, or vital details get missed or take too long, and people lose interest or systems gets too complex. says Lumsden. He advises planning your rollout in phases, making sure each user group is up to speed on the system before moving onto the next phase.

Automate processes – Automate as much as you can.  You want your sales and service teams focused on engaging with your customers, not remembering where to track down certain data or what to do next –  the system can and should do that for them.

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