If your salespeople spend too much time on administrative tasks and not enough time with customers, you need a CRM.
What is CRM?
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) does more than just track customer interactions. It is not just a database tool to store information, but rather it helps your company optimize your operations by automating routine tasks and it allows the company to capture best practices. CRM should enhance your ability to acquire, manage, serve, and extract value from your customers. It should have time-saving tools that allow the sales professional to do their jobs more efficiently and in return provide more value to the company. Most times, there are too many applications that the sales team must switch back and forth between during the course of a day. An effective CRM will:
- Be an extension to a well thought-out sales process
- Make the sales team more productive by reducing redundancies
- Provide visibility into performance
- Allow executives to make the RIGHT decisions to drive revenue
In a survey conducted by AMR Research in 2008 of 1500 CIOs, CRM was cited as the number one business priority. Also see my post on CRM Trends for 2010 and beyond.
How should YOU use a CRM solution?
Firstly, you should assemble a complete customer profile that allows users to see demographic data, interactions, communications, and purchases made. This should include ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment) which tracks the metrics of lead to revenue. Do you currently have a system that tracks campaign details throughout the campaign lifecycle across all channels? Do you effectively understand or manage all of your marketing channels? Sales professionals should be cognisant of all of the key metrics including:
- Lead Evolution (Who is inquiring? How many? From where?)
- Sales Pipelines (What is the potential REVENUE on the table?)
- Quota Attainment (Are the salespeople achieving targets?)
- Revenue Forecasts (Can the data be analyzed to accurately predict? Can this be duplicated?)
For companies that do not use CRM, this information is dispersed across email, spreadsheets, and other silent applications. Do you currently have “one version of the truth” when it comes to the numbers on your customer data? In most situations prior to a solid CRM strategy, management works with out-dated customer information that is difficult to find. Because of this, ill-informed decisions are being made regarding the best way to acquire, serve, and retain customers. Too many reports, too many systems, and inaccurate data are the root cause of the problem. If you were to track and analyze your customer interactions, which of the following sources would need to be reviewed?
- Paper lists of leads
- Consolidated marketing inquiry report
- Marketing campaign reports
- Internet reports
- Sales Reports
- Sales Pipelines
- Management reports
- Contact lists – paper and computer
- Outlook/Gmail emails
- A old software version from twelve years ago
- Client database
Management needs to analyze all sources such as these to make decisions and this takes time. Often the reports are inaccurate and not timely enough to be proactive. How effective can you be if your forecasts are plus or minus, fifteen to twenty percent?
In order to move forward as a professional sales force, the CRM solution should:
- Automate processes and eliminate human error
- Utilize and track key metrics
- Provide accurate information to management
- Track return on investment
- Allow for marketing to be done from a corporate level
- Informational mailings by target market and other pre-defined triggers. How about corporate newsletters? New product roll-outs. Communication with previous customers who are the best source of referrals. Don’t leave it up to the sales team alone.
- Provide the ability to create and track campaigns
You cannot afford to neglect a strategic investment in CRM, especially if you currently don’t have a well-considered sales and marketing strategy for sustainable growth. There always needs to be an investment in operational efficiencies in the sales team.
The sales numbers are wrong
Another major challenge that most companies face is how they measure success. Many times the Marketing, Sales, and Operations all gauge performance differently and they don’t play nice in the sandbox. In order to accurately analyze, measure, and predict results, you should have consolidated reports. This can still show average revenue per deal but will also allow for more accurate reporting on ROMI, pipeline, and profits. The executive team should be speaking the same language when it comes to evaluating the success of the sales team. If you want to move forward, a consolidated measurement system should be developed.
Prices adjust, product mixes fluctuate, and markets change. But one thing remains constant – the value of a dollar.
image: by Ščuglík