5 min read

10 things CRM is supposed to do (is it failing you?)

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A post listing ten areas where most CRM implementations are failing.

If there are two acronyms you don’t see together often enough, it’s CRM and ROI. Often the issue isn’t with software choices, but with the way they were implemented. Management buy-in, employee training, the pain-in-the-behind factor, or (sadly) vendors who didn’t get it. Check this list to see if your CRM rig has room for improvement.

      1. It’s supposed to empower people, not impose on them

By far the biggest issue in the success of CRM is the mindset of the people using it. How bought in to CRM are they… really? Was it enthusiastically received as the answer to their problems, or groaned at?

Write it on your forehead: people are the most important term in the equation. Better still, your IT and Marketing people’s foreheads.

      2. It’s a Marketing tool seen as an IT project

CRM is supposed to empower the Sales & Marketing team. But – as you know all too well – complex software projects frequently get dumped on IT’s shoulders, who are supposed to work out the KPIs and CSFs themselves.

CRM is an S&M success factor. If you’re the IT bod tasked with rolling it out, make sure your Sales and Marketing directors know precisely how much input you need from them.

      3. It’s supposed to be a Single Version of the Truth

The best uses of CRM flow when it’s everywhere: on every desk and department, the go-to place to store customer details. Far too often, it sits alongside or on top of other databases, including the humble Excel spreadsheet. With data forking more times than the Florida Turnpike.

Integration is a difficult job, but it’s critical to CRM success. Never forget that integration with other sources of info is at least half the job.

      4. It sticks in the Sales silo

CRM is often sold as a tool for Sales. That’s true – but with social CRM, campaigning plug-ins, and even financial data capture, it works equally well for Marketing, Finance, Management, and countless other vertical functions.

So if CRM is known only to a few insiders, try introducing its features to people outside the sales function. If everyone at C-level has problems gathering accurate data (they do) show them a dashboard. If your Accounts people have trouble matching Purchase Orders to costs, demo some plug-in apps. CRM can take a lot of the leg work away.

      5. It should let you act, not react

Social listening, e-CRM, the blogosphere… some CRM partners don’t think the world beyond your office matters. Yet a hotline to the mass subconscious – the Tweets, the Posts, the reviews and reputations created when people talk about you not to you – empowers your colleagues to take action (corrective or otherwise) early.

Most switched-on business people have an idea of what CRM does. It’s worth opening your non-techie colleagues’ eyes to the other things it can do.

      6. It should create opportunities, not bog you down

There are many uses of CRM… but sometimes people get mixed up in the administrative aspects, blinding themselves to what that dull-but-essential work enables.

It’s hard, but keep your data policy (or equivalent document) short and simple, so people aren’t turned off by entering the details of a new client accurately. (Or worse, outsourcing it to a temp.)

      7. It’s supposed to build relationships

Ideally, each campaign or customer communication should be part of a “conversation over time” – each mailing learning from how that customer behaved last time. Yet countless campaigns are launched treating long-term customers like fresh-found prospects.

Have a chat with your colleagues and see if they’re using CRM more as a list than a network. Then show them the power of what it can really do.

      8. It should provide real business intelligence

Your CRM database isn’t a static list. With a few thousand names and activities recorded, it becomes a useful tool for predicting and testing.

It can be as simple as: do customers respond more when contacted on a weekly or monthly basis? It’s surprising how many companies don’t know these simple metrics. If you’re in a position to share these findings, shout them from the rooftops.

      9. It’s supposed to replace things, not add to them

CRM can extend into many areas of your business. Yet often it just adds to what was there before. Creating numerous troubles in the IT dept, who usually get the raw end of the extra work.

So if you’re doing a feasibility study, see where CRM could simplify and replace other systems, driving costs out of the whole business. Especially legacy apps that are costing too much to support.

      10. It’s supposed to make life easy!

A final note: CRM should improve your business, not hamper your people. For every task and requirement on the list, see whether the CRM rollout you’re planning will make the item easier (less time, less effort) or harder.

To sum up, make sure everyone who matters thinks of CRM as an enabler, not a  technology. Your job may – just – get easier because of it.

Takeaways:

  • CRM needs buy-in from everyone, not just Sales
  • Remember, it’s there to enable better business, not take up time
  • For everything it adds, see what you can take away

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3 min read

5 Hidden gold mines in your CRM to improve sales performance

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5 tips and tricks to improve sales performance with CRM

CRM can be complex software, but the things it enables – if implemented well – are simple. Basic business drivers like increasing turnover, driving profit, and improving sales performance.

Here’s the thing: there are probably some quick wins hidden in your data RIGHT NOW. Check out these five and see if you agree.

See where your old leads went

Let’s say your 7,500 name CRM database has 3,750 names you haven’t mailed in three years. Perhaps the email is missing or you had a bounceback. They’re still worth chasing.

A short project – perhaps well suited to new member of the Sales team – would be to see where those 3,750 people are now. It’s likely some smart searching of LinkedIn can reveal where 90% of them went. What are their new companies? Have they taken a new senior role? How are you connected to them? All these are reasons to contact them anew… and sales opportunities in the making.

Look to social media for relevant reasons to contact

Is there a trade show coming up, or your customers’ main sectors are experiencing turbulence? Pin down those stories as they pop up across social media – then contact your customers to talk them over.

They’ll be pleasantly surprised at how switched-on you are to their sector. Especially if you’re in a position to offer sales support at their busiest time of the year…

Do a whip-round for new Connections…

If you haven’t cleaned your database for a while (slapped wrist!) there’s another reason to do so: your own new starters will have networks and connections across the social sphere who may provide a useful “in”.

Does James from Accounts have an old boss he still meets for drinks… in your biggest sales vertical? How about Laura from Finance, whose friend works for the bank you’re mining for leads? A basic part of Sales is networking; use your CRM network to improve sales performance.

…then make use of your customers’ networks

Take this a step further by digging into your customers’ address books. The people they follow on Twitter, the pages they ‘Like’, their blogrolls,  alerts and connections – in many cases this information is open, and the right CRM setup can trawl social media to collect them.

What’s the value of a Case Study written about someone your prospect knows? A retweet about YOU from someone they already follow? Small, smart actions like these build the biggest sales equity anyone can have these days: reputational trust. All of which can markedly improve sales performance.

If in doubt, phone a friend!

Asking for help – a referral to a new prospect, or a written recommendation – is far more likely to deliver if you do your homework first.

Your CRM system is a mine of data on who’s done what. Who clicked on which newsletters; who went to an event; what they did after your phone call. Use it. If you know Mr Schmidt switched from Salesforce to Microsoft Dynamics CRM after visiting three events where you spoke, call him to ask about his experiences. Then ask if he knows anyone in the same position! You’ll be going in with the right introduction.

Let’s sum up:

Takeaways :

  • Look at your “lost contacts” as “moved-on” contacts.. and track them down
  • Use both internal and external networks to build reputation and trust
  • Always, always have a REASON to call a contact beyond the next sales push

increasing-sales-performance

2 min read

How do different age groups use CRM? Survey results…

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We all know the benefits of using CRM – but does a user’s age have a role to play in its successful deployment?

Indeed, while some may cling to the stereotype that the young are more technically astute and keener to embrace tech than their seniors, the survey suggests that, when it comes to using CRM, it’s actually pretty close, or in some cases, the other way round:

It appears it does – according to the results of Redspire’s CRM survey, the older you are, the better you believe you are at using CRM, exploiting its benefits on multiple fronts including relevancy and functionality.

 

How-do-different-age-groups-use-CRM

 

“Roughly what percentage of the CRM system functionality do you think you know/understand?”

On average those aged 55+ said they know/understand
53%

while

On average those aged 18-24 said they understood
50.84%

 

“On a scale of 1-10 (1 being low, 10 being high), how would you rate the relevance of information presented to you in your CRM system?”

Those aged 55+ gave a relevancy rating of
5.8

compared to a:

4.91
relevancy rating by those aged 25-34.

or a

4.95
relevancy rating by those aged 18-24.

But the 55+ age group is also the most demanding of their company’s use of the platform, believing that there is room for improvement when using CRM. When asked:

 

“Do you feel you would get more value from your CRM if more departments in your business used it?”

64%
of those aged 55+ believed that they would.

While only…

40.54%
of those aged 18-24 felt the same.

Finally, the 55+ group is the age group that most understands what using CRM is actually for. When asked:

 

“Why was the CRM system implemented in your business?”

The 55+ age group attached more importance to providing…

‘a better experience for the customer’

… than any other age group (or any other reason given) with…
56%

… of the vote.

 

And The Biggest CRM ‘Grumblers’?

18-24s
… who say they spend an average of…

8.24
… hours a week gathering data for reports that they believe their CRM could produce for them.

And the second biggest grumblers?

25-34s
… who weigh in with 7.35 hours.

 

And the age groups who grumble the least?

That’ll be the…

45-54 (4.48hrs)

55+ (6.04hrs)

… age groups thus proving once and for all that if you’re middle-aged or older, you’re not turning into a ‘grumpy old person’. Fact.

 

Takeaways:

Remember:

– Ensure your CRM system has been optimised whatever the age group using it.

– Avoid ‘grumbles’ mounting about your CRM by asking for feedback from staff.

– Improve CRM effectiveness by offering training across your company.

– Ask yourself if more departments could be reaping the benefits of your CRM system.

 

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4 min read

Keep Your Data Honest! Is Your Cleaning Strategy Delivering?

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CRM is only as good as the data you put into it. Here’s how to keep on top of data cleaning.

Data cleaning isn’t a one-off event, it’s an ongoing process. With new EU laws mandating ever-tighter conditions over what you can retain, there are too many ways to fall foul of both the law and your customers.

Luckily, a spot check right now can expose some common errors that may be holding back your marketing and crushing your response rate. Most are easy to deal with if you follow a few no-nonsense rules. Check a representative sample of your database for these common data cleaning fails today.

1. Is your representative sample… representative?

First up, make sure any data you sample really represents your database! That doesn’t mean looking at the first 100 names. It means choosing a statistically valid subset of your data to get an idea of the database as a whole.

So who’s best placed to do it? In-house, outsource or a CRM partner? This question’s a prime candidate for asking your CRM expert. They see hundreds of databases and notice the same data entry bad practices again and again. A few hours of their time could pay back hugely in the future.

2. Do common-sense spring cleaning on the simple stuff

Every list has a few John Smiths on it. For more unusual names, simple queries of your data can reveal the incidence of duplicate names. If more than 2% of the entries in your database appear more than once for firstname-lastname, you’ve probably got duplicate entries for the same person.

How often this happens varies from sector to sector. Job-hopping industries like hospitality tend to see more of this than the public sector. Allocate resources to it depending on who your customers are. The query syntax is quite simple and once learnt can be applied annually, or quarterly, or however often you want to carry out data cleaning. This would be worth handling in-house.

3. Check when your data last touched the customer

A surprising number of CRM contacts have a lot more activity for surnames starting A-M than N-Z! It’s because many companies release their campaigns to a set number of names in a set number of tranches. Quite often, those tranches are straight alphabetical order.

Whatever the cause, you’ll probably find your list has plenty of valid contacts you haven’t contacted in over a year. Unless you want to warm those contacts back up, it means that they’re ripe for data cleaning.

The first task here is to check that those names are still valid – perhaps with an “Are we losing you?” campaign. You’ll probably see plenty of bouncebacks and undeliverables. Again, this suggests the best people to handle this data cleaning are your in-house team.

4. Take care if importing new names

Clean data importing is harder than you think. Even small differences in data preparation can mean fundamental errors in your database that aren’t easily visible to a human.

(For example, a postman would have no problem delivering a letter to London SE8, but if both words are in the same field in your CRM database, you’ve invented a new town called Londonse8. Many great databases have been RUINED by a single irreversible import.)

If you buy a list and merge it with existing CRM data, it’s wise to talk to an expert first. An outsourced list manager or your CRM partner will know how to format and foolproof your list so it merges seamlessly with your existing data. That saves a lot of problems in the future.

5. Make data cleaning policy as well as practice

The only way to keep your database clean on an ongoing basis is to have a proper data cleaning policy. You will need an assigned person (or persons) responsible for regularly checking for common problems and dealing with them.

That person could be in-house or outsourced, but you’ve got to write the policy first. And it isn’t easy. The policy needs to understand the shape of your database, what success looks like to set its KPIs and the actual actions for performing the cleaning.

(It may even include not allowing anyone to add names to the database without strict rules for doing so. Remember, a small but quality database is more valuable than a large one riddled with errors.)

To this end, engage a professional CRM provider to advise you. They can take a critical look at your data and suggest a range of policies for keeping it clean. Ultimately, it adds up to fewer bouncebacks, higher response rates, and more targeted lists – that’s CRM that works harder for you.

When making decisions about data cleaning, remember:

  • Check what’s worth checking, making sure your sampling’s right.
  • Deal with the simple stuff – it’s the biggest source of errors.
  • Check how warm your leads are and remove those who are coldest.
  • Engage professional help if importing or merging a list.
  • Make data cleaning a policy, not “when you get around to it”!

Discover why you shouldn’t be slow in your decision to adopt CRM by downloading: The ultimate guide to: why slow user adoption affects 49% of CRM projects

why-slow-user-adoption-affects-49-per-cent-of-crm-projects

3 min read

6 Sales and Marketing Strategy Problems You Can Start Fixing Today

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Discover how to bring the sales and marketing strategy of your business together and ensure the departments are working in sync and on-message.

 

To boost lead generation and grow customer bases, it is imperative that Sales and Marketing are brought closer into alignment. According to Forrester, there is a…

32%

increase in annual revenue growth for aligned organisations, while there’s a…

7%

decline in revenue for less aligned companies.

The issue for many companies is that the two departments are traditionally wary of each other – and that’s the first issue that a proactive CEO must deal with.

 

1. Deal with the identity crisis

It’s essential to recognise the mental and physical divide between the two departments. Not only do they usually work in different offices within a corporation, but they also work in silos –  effectively ignoring each other. The resulting mindsets? Sales think Marketing’s leads are bad while Marketing believe Sales aren’t good enough at chasing its hard-fought leads.

 

2. Stop the burning of bridges

Interdepartmental meetings should be held on a regular basis to build trust and relationships with team members from each department. This simple but effective approach is an ideal opportunity to create a joined up sales and marketing strategy, with both sides discussing and sharing knowledge. Marketing is perfectly placed to discuss sales opportunities and key prospects based on their data, while Sales can offer valuable insights into frontline issues such as business pains and customer personas.

 

3. Define roles and define terms – don’t just ignore them

It’s essential that both departments are singing from the same hymn sheet. For example, Marketing needs to define and understand what a good lead is in the minds of the Sales department, and Sales need to understand the entire pipeline that Marketing is following with its lead generation process. By taking a unified approach to the revenue cycle, the departments will be brought closer into alignment with one another.

Same Terms, Different Definitions?

Ensure that common terms mean the same thing in the minds of both departments – sit down together and draw up definitions of the basics such as lead generation, lead scoring and lead nurturing.

 

4. Avoid the Negative, Focus on the Positive

The push for alignment isn’t going to happen overnight – so ensure that you celebrate any win which was based on the new closer working relationship between the two departments. A lead from Marketing that turned into a Sales success should be highlighted to build enthusiasm, encouraging increased alignment and further underlining the commitment to the new sales and marketing strategy.

 

5. Don’t Leave Them Hanging

Keep communicating. Marketing must ensure it checks-in with Sales on a regular basis to monitor how their leads are performing. For instance, follow up on a lead given to Sales to ascertain its resulting performance, closing the loop on each and every lead even if it turned out to be fruitless. Deploying this tactic will aid in honing the lead generation process and, for those leads that fell flat, lessons can be learned together to further hone business pains and customer personas.

 

6. Two Departments, One Vision

Software solutions offer the perfect backbone for building a closer relationship between Sales and Marketing. The creation of a virtual dashboard that both teams can access in real-time will enable them to see and feedback on what each department is doing. This is an optimum alignment solution. CRM systems offer this functionality effortlessly – boosting productivity in the process.

In-Sync

According to research by Aberdeen Research, marketing automation capabilities such as lead generation, scoring and nurturing are proven to bring sales and marketing closer together.

 

Remember:

  • Bring sales and marketing together via regular meetings; bust those silos.
  • Feed off each department’s knowledge and skill set to maximise sales and marketing’s potential.
  • Define roles and common terms so both departments are working from the same ‘brief’.
  • Celebrate successes and learn from failures together, not apart.
  • Deploy software solutions such as CRM to drive your aligned strategy programme.

 

Discover how to boost sales success with our free eGuide: ‘The ultimate guide to: increasing sales performance’.

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