Have you noticed how technology has an annoying habit? It goes from being the best thing since …. well, since the last piece of new technology you adopted… to being the thing in the office that slows you down the most.

The problem is that people get so used to finding workarounds for their systems that it becomes second nature. But in reality, it is draining your time, using up your resources and blunting your competitive edge – especially for your Sales team.

Most business leaders will agree that their Sales teams are the ones who can least afford to be held back by out-of-date technology. But they’re regularly frustrated, misled and misinformed by CRM systems that are simply not up to the job anymore. After all, customer behaviour has changed – shouldn’t your CRM change too?

Slow CRM = Slow Pipeline

The CRM system that you invested in a couple of years ago may already be behind the times. While your Sales teams find time-consuming ways to get the most out of a failing system, the competition is already closing the deal.

Imagine the difference a leading-edge, constantly evolving (and, therefore, future-proof) CRM system can make. A CRM system that suits a digital customer, enabling your Sales teams to make decisions as quickly as your customers do – within the space of a ‘click’. While your customers explore buying options on mobile devices or desktops, your Sales teams can be just as responsive, just as informed.

An advanced CRM system, designed around a new type of interaction between buyer and seller, enables you to keep a wealth of information about your customers at your fingertips. It stores accurate client insights and market knowledge, acting as a single resource for every touchpoint in the customer cycle. Vital analytics also ensure that your Marketing is generating the right leads and that your Sales teams can capitalise.

A better way to work

Does such a CRM system even exist? Of course it does – what do you think your competitors are using? Microsoft Dynamics keeps your teams connected internally and fosters close connections with your customers. It enables you to build in-depth profiles of your customers and clients through historical data, empowering your Sales teams to really personalise your customer experience. It even helps you to harness the power of social media, allowing you to open dialogue and start meaningful, relevant colleagues and customer conversations. Talk about bringing people together.

By syncing to your internal processes, Microsoft Dynamics supports a single, seamless customer journey that collates insight from initial contact through to onboarding. Ultimately, it works with you, not against you – and sadly, these days, not every CRM system can make the same claim.

Writing a CRM business case can be a challenge. Since companies first started adopting CRM systems back in the early 90s, the landscape has changed significantly.

For example, cloud based solutions have made the management, accessibility and on-going support of the CRM database much easier and affordable.

This technology also means that the cost of implementing a CRM system has fallen too as the need for up-front investment in hardware is all but removed.

CRM is widely used by businesses to centralise all of their customer information and correspondence in one place – as a result, productivity is increased, customer satisfaction is improved and administration costs are reduced.

Sales departments are more efficient through the automation of sales process and improvement in forecasting and funnel management which ultimately increases sales.

Marketers can make their budget work harder by being able to accurately measure ROI from marketing activity and as a result become more accountable for their effort.

If you are working on a business case for CRM within your organisation then you’ll no doubt be aware that you need to answer two questions:

  1. How much money will it make/save?
  2. How much will it cost?

And the good news is that there are some resources available to help you answer these questions:

How much will it make/save?

There are lots of resources and independent research out there to help you answer this question. For example, one headline statistic from an independent research study concludes that CRM delivers an average ROI of 243%.

However, you can work out what specific savings/profits can be made for your business with this CRM ROI Calculator.

How much will CRM cost?

This question is a bit trickier because there are so many variables from different solutions, vendors and deployment options.

This CRM price comparison should help demonstrate the value for money that Microsoft Dynamics offers versus Salesforce and Oracle.

At Redspire our transparent pricing policy (we publish our consultancy fees online) means that you should be able to get an idea of what CRM costs and what scale of project you can get for your budget. If you need anything clarified, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Many businesses have given a warm welcome to mobile CRM – it helps them work faster and more efficiently. This useful infographic shows you how companies use mobile CRM to their advantage.

It is a popular notion that delivering CRM projects can be challenging mainly because that every project has many factors and variables that are difficult to predict. Is it any wonder then that CRM project methodologies are constantly evolving in order to overcome these challenges? One of the strategies that have emerged for this purpose is Microsoft’s Sure Step approach, which is arguably one of the most precise and dependable CRM project management methodologies.

Sure Step has proven time and time again that it fosters predictable, on-budget, on-time and on-spec projects. The emphasis is on a thorough pro-active approach that manages the many variables and acts as a roadmap for the client company on the way to a successful project completion.

Getting started with Sure Step

There is a range of valuable resources freely available on the web including industry best practices, technical notes, various project templates and guidelines from the Project Management Institute.

Maintaining control

With Sure Step, every project is divided into 6 parts:

  • Diagnostic
  • Analysis
  • Design
  • Development
  • Deployment
  • Operation

The emphasis is always on careful planning and implementing every requirement to make sure that progress is maintained. There are tools to help the company do this including: in-depth requirements checklists, clearly defined responsibilities and thorough risk and change management guidelines.

Executive and on-going support

By following the Sure Step methodology, gaining executive commitment and support becomes easier. Management have greater visibility of progress and expected outcomes and as a result are more involved in decision making.

The client company can also make use of training, self-support resources and access to the user community via Micorosft’s CustomerSource. After the project has been successfully implemented, Sure Step offers a range of services to maintain the successful project lifecycle on the go.

Sure Step Limitations

Sure Step has helped our professionals to implement many successful projects with its detailed guidelines and strong support tools. However, over the years we have adapted the process to overcome some limitations we and our clients could do without.

For example, we have found that Sure Step works well with a set of measures that are typically established at the outset of a project. A common issue is that the client’s perspective of what they require changes as the process evolves and additional and unforeseen resources to accommodate those changes may be required. And if this change takes place mid-way through the project, there might be “knock-on” issues affecting processes that have already been delivered.

At Redspire, we have developed our own project implementation method which we believe further enhances Sure Step. Our approach, “TrueFIT“, focusses on our clients’ business objectives, before we explore individual business units through a rigorous application of Sure Step within each unit. As a result, we not only optimise their CRM within each unit, but also for the end users and the company as a whole.

Utilising this approach means that we save time at the project’s outset, making more efficient use of our client’s budget and allows us to implement the processes which deliver the best ROI quickly.

The result? A CRM which is been developed on the foundation of core business objectives, which is widely adopted and is fit for purpose.

For more information about how we deliver CRM projects, why not watch our webinar on How to Deliver a CRM Project?

[button size=”small” type=”rounded” color=”red” href=”https://www.redspire.co.uk/resources/video/how-to-deliver-a-crm-project/” ]Watch now[/button]

It’s taken a while, but the B2B world is beginning to embrace social media in a way that the B2C bods have been enjoying for quite some time. Social media platforms give us opportunities to instantly exchange information, build contacts and engage with groups, share ideas and open dialogues. It’s changing how we talk to customers, market products and services and network professionally.

Maybe that’s why it’s taken so long for B2B organisations to latch on; the term ‘social media’ doesn’t clearly highlight the potential in the professional sphere. But that’s not to say that the potential isn’t there; now, social media is no longer just about being sociable. Increasingly, these platforms are being utilised in the corporate environment to facilitate the exchange of information amongst colleagues.

Customer data + social media = success

Can you see where I’m going with this one? Over here, you’ve got the fantastic information resource created by a CRM system like Microsoft Dynamics. Over there, you’ve got brilliant ways to share information through social media. Just imagine if you could bring the two together…

No surprises, then, to see Microsoft engaging with Yammer, the internal company communication platform. You might go as far as to say it’s a no-brainer. The new model allows teams with access to the CRM system to plan customer strategies and engage other colleagues in achieving those goals. The potential to speed responses, enhance service levels, inspire virtual teamwork and solve issues quickly is exceptional.

The real beauty of the Dynamics/Yammer connection is the simplicity. Like every great social media platform, it is intuitive, uncomplicated and open. It frees businesses to work differently and think differently, without requiring extensive training for users. So customers will see the benefits almost instantly.

It’s all up to you

Companies that already use Microsoft Dynamics will appreciate the benefits of the Yammer connection quickly. Is there a downside? Not really. The only challenge I can see is the challenge we’re all familiar with from social media. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what additional functionality the system has – it will always be defined by how individuals use it.

Some people will use it just to view news and stay updated. Others will make it an integral part of their working day, maximising the potential of a tool that can support great CRM in lots of different ways. Either way, thanks for Microsoft Dynamics and Yammer, social media has a firmer foothold in the professional sphere.

As Laura McLellan at Gartner predicts, CMO’s budget for technology is supposed to exceed that of CIO in 2017. What does this mean for you?

With increasing budget for technology, there will be more pressure for good marketing data. So how do you make the most out of this challenge?

The answer is simple: by measuring your data and optimising your processes.


Why should you care?

Research shows that staggering 66% of marketers don’t measure their marketing activities and/or performance. So why should you? Well, ask yourself this question: How can you improve something if you don’t measure it?

Imagine that you’re in a meeting with your CEO and they tell you that they need more sales this year. They give you a certain budget and tell you to come back with the best result possible.

How are you going to come back with really good sales figures if you don’t know what’s most likely to make it happen?

Here are you options:

  1. Do what you’ve always done and wonder if something else would work better
  2. Keep doing things at random and hope it works
  3. Start measuring your activity and repeat what actually works

If you’re like most marketers, you’re measuring some things, but are not really sure whether they’re the right things to measure. How do you find out, and which tools should you use to measure your marketing activity?


What should you measure?

It’s always good to start with something simple. Start at the bottom of your funnel: track the amount of sales you achieve every month. Measuring this single figure regularly and reflecting on the result keeps you well informed of your performance.

If you want to have a better idea of your situation, the next thing to measure if the number of proposals you send each month. If you know how many sales and proposals you’ve processed each month, from these you can derive your sales conversion rate.

For example, if you sent 5 proposals and made 1 sale, that means your conversion rate is ⅕ or 20%.

Moving up the funnel, the next thing to track is the quantity of leads you’ve generated. If you know this number, you will be able to calculate your lead conversion rate. For example, let’s say you generated 50 leads, sent 5 proposals and made 1 sale. Calculating the ratios of these values will give you a great evaluation of your performance. You now know that you sent a proposal to 10% of your leads and you successfully closed 2% of your leads.

This may not seem very useful. You may be asking now: What difference does it make if I know how many percent of my leads became customers? Knowing or not knowing the reality doesn’t change anything, does it?

The answer to that question is: It does when you know what activities are bringing these results. So to complete the picture, you should measure all the marketing activity you’re engaging in. This includes e-mail campaigns, social media activities, postal campaigns, advertising & PPC, telephone calls, and so on.

Engaging in all of these activities and measuring your results should give you a picture of how well each activity is working for you. That way, you can track the link between each activity and sale and precisely measure your marketing ROI. Ultimately, you’ll be able to determine which activities are leading to most sales.

Each month, produce a report of these activities, and evaluate how well you’re doing compared to the past. Too much work? Not if you have the right tools to do this for you.

MS Dynamics CRM 2015 free trial

Which tools should you use to do this?

One of the most powerful tools to gather and analyse all this data is a good CRM system. In fact, a well-designed CRM system will help you track all your business activities and your customer’s journey down the funnel.

That way you can see which of your activities brought the most customers into your funnel, and which types of your marketing activities lead to most successful sales. For more information about how Redspire and Microsoft Dynamics CRM can help you measure your marketing performance, get in touch.