A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) strategy can have significantly favourable effects on company performance, yet 75% of all CRM systems projects fail to deliver on their promise.

According to a LinkedIn state-of-sales report, this failure occurs despite 82% of top salespeople citing CRM tools as critical to their ability to close deals

Anyone with experience of CRM systems implementation will understand how easily things can fall over. The myriad challenges include legacy systems, multiple sources of truth, the lack of connectivity across incompatible data platforms, indecipherable data structures and poorly managed inaccurate customer data. And that’s before we get into organisational silos, data ownership issues, and the overpromises of systems vendors (don’t even get me started there). 

CRM has much to offer. Use it well, and it can super-charge your customer experience and sales. So how do you avoid landing in that onerous 75 percentile with your implementation?

We recommend checking out our critical questions and considerations to think about when specifying a CRM platform to help you shape your thinking at the outset. Then this article will provide some further basic thoughts on how you can orchestrate a CRM implementation successfully. 

We’ve written this to help decision-makers at mid-sized NZ organisations that potentially lack core CRM expertise within their existing team.

CRM requires a heady mix of customer strategy, systems and data knowledge, and that is often hard to come by, let alone in an SME sized business. So, if that sounds like you and you are thinking about updating your existing CRM platform or implementing something new for the first time, this is for you!

CRM Implementation

Here are a few key “to-dos” to consider when setting up a CRM system:

  1. Have an overall project owner. This person should be someone in a senior role who can understand and shape the customer experience framework to feed the CRM systems requirements. They will be responsible for collecting and documenting user needs within the business and ensuring consistent data and customer management procedures get adopted from day one. A “super-user” should join this person who will become the go-to for people with questions around the CRM strategy and implementation. Who to assign as your super-user? We suggest your most passionate customer advocate, sale person or CRM employee.
  2. Write clear and straightforward user guidelines. Clearly state whatwhen and how to do things in the CRM system. The user guide keeps everything uniform, including things like an onboarding process. When compiling your user guide, use the old KISS principle as keeping it simple should mean no one is overwhelmed.
  3. Consider using a structured training programme to cater to different levels of experience and allow people to get used to new procedures. Doing so will keep people together and on the same page. Remember you are implementing something to be used for years, so don’t rush new users into too much complexity.
  4. Remember the WIIFM rule. Take users on the journey, so they understand the value in your CRM strategy. Users need to consciously commit to a customer-centred (what’s in it for them) business model for the CRM strategy to succeed. Ensure sales team members understand how they will benefit from optimal use of the CRM system. It can make life easier, make the sales process more effective, and will provide better customer experiences if used well. Ultimately, they will see sales grow!

Improving sales processes with a CRM platform

Once implementation is underway, what’s next? There are several CRM processes that users need to keep track of as part of their journey to success. The critical thing to remember is the system is only as good as the data that drives it!

Here’s a checklist:

  • Create a uniform system for data entry that everyone adheres to 
  • Track phone calls
  • Log conversations
  • Add deal notes to inform future conversations.
  • Set appointments
  • Schedule calls
  • Keep your CRM clean – update contact information and job titles as people move around.
  • Create follow up tasks

And, of course, never miss a follow-up!

Timely follow-ups

According to research conducted by sales training company Rain Group, it takes eight touches on average to get an initial meeting (or other conversions) with a new contact, so follow-ups do count! Follow-ups keep your brand on the radar and can keep the desire to buy alive.

During a sales interaction – which can often be lengthy – it is easy for sales staff to overlook a follow up with potential customers, potentially putting the sale at risk. Following up isn’t always easy, as research shows. It’s currently ranked as the third most significant challenge for sales teams. When used properly, a CRM system acts as a guide and motivator and provides a standardised sales process reminding you when to follow up a prospect and how to keep a healthy sales pipeline. This is crucial as a sales pipeline plays an important role, offering a visual snapshot of where opportunities are in the sales process.

CRM on the run

Today’s technology often equips CRM users on the road visiting clients to stay connected. Many CRM tools provide mobile apps for this purpose to allow users to look up contacts, add notes, view reports etc., all while on the move. There’s no need to wait to get back to the office, or home, to enter essential information or carry through required follow-ups.  

Motivating users and reporting functionality

Motivation is key to keeping the sale process humming, and the reporting functionality of CRMs assists in this regard. Salespeople are often motivated by potential sales and performance, and top salespeople tend to have a strong competitive streak. This is where the CRM reporting functionality shines as reporting can be highly motivating for team members. Dashboards tracking sales achieved by each salesperson and the associated pipeline performance can be an incentive to go the extra mile to lift sales.  

Reports can also enable managers to support the users better if the system offers transparency and highlights where staff may need training. It could be that salespeople are producing an excellent pipeline but not getting customers across the line. It could be that they are missing following up new prospects – maybe because they have their priorities wrong or struggle with that initial phone call. Having a clear picture of where people are in the sales process also helps sales managers develop more accurate sales forecasting.

The CRM reporting functionality provides the ability to run analyses and generate routine reports for everything from contact engagement trends to sales and marketing.

CRM and Customer Engagement strategies

Optimising your CRM approach is part of a customer engagement strategy which has many moving parts. 

blog on the Superoffice website reminds us that implementing a CRM system is not just introducing new technology. Instead, it’s an adoption of a brand-new way of thinking that puts the customer at the business’s heart. It is a strategic approach that unites technology, internal processes, employees and data management across the entire organisation, to attract, keep and grow customers.

Consciously committing to a customer-centred business model is indisputably worth the effort. Ultimately, CRM should provide a 360-degree view of a customer and help coordinate interactions across a business. 

CRM support on hand

If you want more information on CRM platforms and customer engagement strategies or already have a CRM platform and need help with making this superpower fly for you, contact us.

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Author: Simon Hall

Simon Hall is a fanatic CRM user. He has worked for numerous corporates in sales and marketing roles, setting up distribution channels as well as bringing vast experience in international business development space. Simon joined Twenty CX as Sales Director in May 2019.