Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

New technologies offer the promise of making our business efforts faster, more efficient, and higher quality. One such technology, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, has been around for nearly 30 years and still many businesses have not yet invested. A good question to ask is: “Does your sales team really need to utilize a CRM?”

You may have heard many negatives:

  • They can be expensive
  • They are often cumbersome to set up and implement
  • It will be time consuming to train and a steep learning curve to use
  • Salespeople will push back on using a new system
  • It can be confusing to choose from the hundreds that are available

These are all reasonable objections. But do these objections outweigh the potential gains you might achieve through a well-designed CRM? In other words, is there an ROI to be recognized?

Consider the following – based on data complied from over 2,000 sales agility assessments, small and mid-sized businesses indicated:

  • 92% of companies reported there is no sales process
  • 91% said they don’t know the probability of closure for each sales cycle step
  • 86% don’t know what needs to occur at each step in the sales cycle
  • 79% said their sales metrics are not clearly defined and understood by the entire sales team

This is not to say that companies don’t care about sales process, cycle, and metrics – in most cases they either don’t recognize the value and/or don’t have the ability to generate the data to create actionable metrics. And that’s because only 26% of SMBs document their sales process within a CRM.

Let’s take a closer look at the reasons you should be using a CRM.

Communication and Transparency

With sales teams small or large, documenting the sales process and steps within a CRM provides information across the organization on the status of each opportunity. The sales team can track opportunities, more effectively communicate with prospects, and be more efficient with their time and resources. Operations is able to adjust production, supply chain, and customer service needs according to sales demand; and senior leaders have insight into the sales pipeline/forecast, with the ability to make strategic decisions based on data instead of speculation. In other words, there is clear information available across the enterprise.

Pro tip: With this information readily available at their fingertips, managers must resist the urge to continuously request “updates” from the sales teams. It is in the CRM, which should be the source of truth on sales.

Data and Analysis

An effectively utilized CRM is a wealth of data – close rates, cycle times, deal size, customer segmentation results, and lead sources are just a few of the analytics available through virtually all CRMs.  These data points provide insights to tailor your sales process to the buying needs and patterns of your ideal customer profile segments. It also offers benchmarks and best practices for your sales team members.

Pro tip: You’ve heard “garbage in, garbage out”? The data is only as good as the disciplined use of the CRM. Leaders must continuously reinforce the “why,” set clear expectations on the use, and reward those who demonstrate effective utilization while creating consequences for those who do not. If the CRM is not clean, that is a consequence of ineffective leadership.

Efficiency

If you are a sales team of one, a spreadsheet may be an effective way to document your sales process. But for larger teams, as your customer information grows, your sales team may have difficulties keeping up with the pipeline flow. Generating sales reports and analysis can be time consuming, forecasting is mostly speculative, and management must regularly check-in on sales opportunities. A CRM is a needed solution.

Today’s modern cloud-based CRMs allow users to quickly add and track opportunities and activities, share information across the organization, create dashboards and reports, write proposals, quotes, and invoices, and even communicate within your email and calendar software. And since this can be done from a computer, tablet, or smartphone, it provides a dynamic system that will make leaders, sales teams, and other staff all more efficient.

Pro tip: To get the most from a CRM system, it is imperative to gather input from a variety of stakeholders including salespeople, support staff, customer service, operations, and senior leadership during the selection process. This has the added benefit of creating initial buy-in from your users.

Conclusion

A CRM will provide your business with a significant improvement in your sales capabilities. Streamlining data across departments provides improved communication, saves time, and enhances the overall sales process. With around 600 different CRMs available, finding one specific to your needs (and in some cases, tailored for your industry) is a necessary step in order to gain meaningful data. Reach out to your local Sales Xceleration Advisor today to make sure you are implementing, training, and validating effective adoption of your new technology resource.

For more information, take my online Sales Agility Assessment, or email me directly at [email protected].