How to Get the Maximum Sales Performance from Your CRM

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A comprehensive Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution is a critical component of any successful sales organization. Unfortunately, as a technological capability on its own, a CRM is not a solution to all customer acquisition and retention problems.

It often happens that companies that implement a CRM without additional enabling technologies are left in the dark, because while a CRM incorporates all customer data, it doesn’t go as far as enabling marketing and sales teams to see the bigger picture.

The solution? CRM can’t operate in a silo; it has to work as part of a greater engine.

Out of the companies that have adopted a CRM, (82%) are using a mix of best-of-breed technology stacks, and of those, 95% feel that it’s better value in dollars than a single vendor solution. In order to maximize the performance of our CRM, we have to create an all-encompassing technology solution.

What follows are three critical strategies to make this happen.

Strategize: Fix Your Processes First
According to Forrester, around 18% of companies struggling with CRM are unsuccessful because of a poor or nonexistent overall strategy. They’re hoping CRM software will somehow take care of itself.

Failing to define business requirements clearly while neglecting to align organizational functions leaves room for problems that software alone can’t fix. Strategy comes first. It’s not a question of tagging on an extension to your sales process. If you’re implementing a CRM, you’re redesigning the entire customer experience, and that’s something that affects everyone in the organization.

Fully Utilize and Integrate the Right CRM Functionality
The solution isn’t always a case of investing in more technology. In fact, an alarming portion of CRM functionality typically goes unused. One study puts the figure at a whopping 80%. That means the solution is right there, but it’s not being used to its full capacity.

Often this happens when new technologies are continuously added to existing ones, resulting in a cluttered, confused sales stack, and even more confused departmental teams.

This pitfall can be avoided if you thoroughly understand the full capabilities of the software you’re using, and strategically align these to the process you’ve spent so much time developing.

Implement Your Customer-Centric Processes Diligently
Implementing new CRM technology is partially effective unless your sales team is trained until they are fluent with each process. Otherwise, the investment won’t pay off. For example, if we look at poor training, manual data entry is a big concern for 17% of salespeople after implementation , and an alarming 40% which don’t want to let go of Microsoft Excel or Outlook to store lead and customer data. This may be an integration hiccup, but more often it’s a lack of diligence in training and process implementation.

“People problems” are vital to solve just as technology problems. Of all the CRM implementation snags reported, 22% relate to “people” issues. This includes adopting the new culture, slow user integration, and change management. A CRM is a critical tool for customer success. And when the right people are trained in the right way, and when the entire organization takes part ensuring that it stays meaningful, it becomes possible to show direct results on the bottom line.

Have you undergone a successful CRM implementation? Perhaps you’re leaving money on the table if you haven’t connected your people to your organizational technology.

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