New to CRM? Crawl, Walk, Run to Succeed.

New to CRM?  Crawl, Walk, Run to Succeed.

The power of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems continues to grow. Gartner predicts that by the year 2017, the CRM market will be a $36 billion dollar industry. The number of problems a CRM system can solve for a sales and service organizations is amazing. However, I can’t tell you how many presentations I have seen on CRM and they all, without exception, talk to every audience as if they were a Fortune 500 company. They discuss tracking every time a sales professional sneezes, or a client or prospect touches your website to cranking out automated marketing messages at a dizzying rate. I agree that these platforms are powerful, yet these platforms are most often, poorly adopted once implemented within an organization.

Needs vs. Wants in a CRM System

Recently one of the largest CRM companies had their annual conference. It is the largest of its kind held in the San Francisco Bay area. All in all, it is an amazing event. The first day is a spectacle, with keynote speakers from some of the biggest companies in the world, espousing the virtues of how the system has changed their business. Then, session after session talks about the amazing ways CRM systems have been utilized, down to the painful, most agonizing detail of execution. As I hit the exhibitor halls, where companies pay a minimum of $20,000 to be there and try to sell you on their App or Plug-In that makes this amazing platform even more amazing. Ultimately, it makes the whole process of adopting a CRM system very overwhelming.

With over 25 years in Sales and Sales Leadership experience I have seen the evolution of these platforms and one thing hasn’t changed: You need to take the time to make it work for your business. If you take the time to this, and yes it can take time, you will see the productivity gains you dreamed about when you first saw a CRM demo.

A Few Suggestions on the Right Approach to CRM

1) Strategize

Take the time to create a visual workflow of your business. Draw pictures, use sticky notes, markers and butcher paper, or a computer. Use whatever you are comfortable with and define how a business or individual goes from being a stranger, to a prospect, to learning about your product/service, to making the decision to buy, to becoming client/customer. Identify each step within this process and each process you execute on to make it all happen.

2) Prioritize

Step #1 will probably overwhelm you if you do it right. You won’t know where to start. I always suggest, start at the beginning with sales. How do you identify and sell new business? This is a revenue generating function of your company and should be adequately automated to create growth.

3) Simplify for Sales

What are the most important functions of your sales team and how can the CRM support those functions? How can it make their job better and increase the profitability, speed and overall value of the sale? For example, most CRM software will integrate with your email client (Outlook, etc.). If you gave this to your sales team, any correspondence they have with a client or prospect will automatically go into their file in the CRM. This means the sales teams won’t have to deal with data entry and you have an audit trail of every interaction! Everybody wins. Use these simple wins to create excitement about the CRM system, and then incrementally add functionality to gain enthusiastic adoption.

4) Make Life Easier for Customer Service

Again, what are the most important functions of your customer service team and how can CRM support those functions? How can you make their lives easier, by automatically identifying a client who is calling? This feature will automatically look up the client in the database and bring up their profile when they answer the phone. BOOM! You will have a customer service team drooling for more. Again, start with a big win that shows value then build out functionality from there to drive adoption.

5) Advanced Functionality

If you can think of it, chances are it can be done. Another key win for sales, account management and field service professionals is mobile access. If your CRM doesn’t have a compatible mobile application or user interface, rethink it. The days of the laptop computer being the tool of choice in the field are numbered. Mobility is the key and once again, it is a huge win for your team.

CRM Fit = Growth

CRM systems are amazing, no doubt. What is even more amazing is having your team adopt the technology to help grow the business. The worst thing that could happen is to spend a ton of money on features the software company thinks are right for your business but in reality, are not a fit for your team on a day to day basis.

Jack Kelly


Written by Jack Kelly, Principal & Founder at Corlea Group

CRM DSD Business Systems Sage CRM
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