A fun look at the problems the right CRM automation policies and practices can solve.

Every day I wake up at 4.30am. I look outside, see it’s dark. And then I go back to bed, because it’s far too early.

Oh, wait. That’s what a sensible CRM marketer would do.

Trouble is, I’m not one of the sensible ones. Despite the glowing way everyone else describes CRM automation, I’m not sure it’s all it’s cracked up to be. So I make a point of getting to the office before 7am, so I can do with my own hands all the stuff CRM automation could do for me.

(And about that 7am – that’s just on Saturdays! Monday to Friday, I’m here about 6. Brrrr.)

Well, don’t human eyes at each step of the process add more value? Here’s a few of the things I do by hand each day, when apparently CRM automation could be doing them for me:


  • Making sure every fresh lead is checked against the whole database
  • Scheduling campaigns for release at the most worthwhile times
  • Customising outbound communications based on interaction history


On the first one, look, I can’t expect software to know a new enquiry from Mr H. Landers of Schulwick Consulting is the same Harry Landers we’ve been doing business with for years, can I? Oh, I can? What’s this “Intelligent pattern matching and duplication flagging”? Look, it’s a lot simpler to just run your eyes down the entire database. You can always correct the mistakes when customers phone you up and start screaming.


And on the second, I’m pretty sure I know better than some always-on SaaS when I should be sending my campaigns out, thank you very much. Of course, I have to build each distribution list manually and schedule a send-out every time, but that only takes a few hours out of the day. And why else would I come into the office before 7 if this sort of thing didn’t need doing?


While on that third point, I happen to like writing a personal email to all my potential customers. Even if the response rate to what I write average around 0.015%. (That’s just as good as AdWords, you know!) I don’t bother testing what works in an A/B split, or templating useful calls-to-action for different audiences to increase conversions. High response rates are for wimps.


But the main reason, of course, is that CRM automation sounds a bit like marketing automation. And I’m not sure about this “marketing” stuff. Managed conversations, nurturing strategies, lifelong customer relationships? All sounds a bit wolly to me. Even if the best bits of “marketing automation” – saving time, increasing conversions, boosting sales – are now available in your CRM system, if you’ve got the right provider.


And anyway, doing it all by hand doesn’t take that long. It’s now 4pm and I’m ready to start my real work for the day. So if you’ll excuse me – I really need a nap….




  • List the tasks your people do manually to check which are automatable
  • Ask your CRM partner about easy-to-add services that can solve business pain
  • Look at your error rates and see where automating can drive them down
  • Be careful who you authorise to post on your company blog!

Ready to see what CRM automation can add to your sales and marketing? On a more serious note, download this new report: The ultimate guide to: increasing sales performance


Why Free CRM sounds great in theory but in the long run it could end up costing you.

The word ‘free’ has, perhaps, negative connotations, particularly connotations around quality. If you were getting married would you want to wear a ‘free’ suit or dress, or would you, correctly assume, that the quality of the product offered would be inferior to a product which you had invested in?  Could it in fact be a false economy? . In the world of technology even the open-source community of coders, who often give away excellent-quality software without charge, describe their philosophy as “free as in speech, not free as in beer.”

For similar reasons, “free” can be the most expensive word in business technology.

Why? Because the free part… isn’t the important part.

Whether wheelie bins, fighter jets, or an IT platform the real cost of a product isn’t in the hardware. Rather the cost, and therefore business value, stems from the services and support around the product. Without these helping hands, you could end up wasting time, and money, on a product that simply stands alone, in CRM terms on  a platform that’s one founder’s problem away from closedown.

So if you’re considering one of those free CRM systems, here are three questions to ask yourself before making a decision.

1. Does your choice of CRM have a pedigree?

What we mean when we label a CRM  “pedigree”, is does the free CRM have a known history in the market? Is it going to integrate  well with your other applications, is it free from show-stopping bugs, is there a large ecosystem of vendors and packages with a stake in its continued success?


2. Does it work as a business case?

A business case lives or dies on the invisible costs. Your people’s time is a cost. Your systems integration is a cost. To say nothing of the cost of the risks attached to the allure of that zero sticker price. (Software bugs, supplier failure, incompatibility with your other software.)


3. Can a costed CRM actually work out cheaper?

Forget those stories of £10,000-per-seat rollouts and lock-in contracts; some big-name CRM systems can be surprisingly flexible and low-cost. In addition many offer a range of payment options such as simple monthly subscriptions. Per person, even market-leading CRM systems can be extremely cost-effective.


Above all, of course, what your CRM system needs to sing is service: a reliable partner (or partners) to bed in your choice, make sure your KPIs are being met, and getting your people on board with the new way of doing things. An established partner can also supply the software itself as part of its agreement with you… sometimes for free! It’s the service you pay for, giving you the best of both worlds.



  • Free can be the priciest word in business
  • Free CRM might also be free of support, free of case studies and free of customer success stories
  • Paying for CRM service, support and training from a reputable partner can often reduce the price of the actual software close to free anyway


Now we’ve dealt with the cost side, take a look at boosting revenue – download our eGuide:The ultimate guide to: increasing sales performance


Uncover which managers and employees are struggling to make the most of their company’s CRM investment according to Redspire’s latest survey.






View the infographic



Tough Sell?

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to discover that Sales is the department who uses CRM the most. When asked…

“On average, how many hours a day do you spend working on your CRM system?”

… it was Sales who came out in pole position:

Sales Managers 4.76 hours on average

Sales Assistants 4.55 hours on average


Marketing Managers 3.21 hours on average

Marketing Assistants 4.4 hours on average



A Sting in the Stat?

But Sales Managers are also most dissatisfied with how many hours per day they spend doing tasks that they feel their CRM could automate for them – with a whopping…

4 hours

… being wasted in their opinion. In other words, most of the time Sales spends working on its CRM platform is regarded as a drain on its valuable time.

The survey also reveals that assistants are struggling with their CRM’s workload.



Assistance Needed for Assistants?

When asked…

“Do you feel you could accomplish your job more efficiently with a better understanding of the CRM system and what it can do for you?”

… it was assistants who were clambering for more, ahem, assistance than managers:

Admin Assistant 62.5% vs. Admin Manager 43.9%

Sales Assistant 53.13% vs. Sales Manager 44.74%

Operations Assistant 62.5% vs. Operations Manager 50%



Two Exceptions that Prove the Rule?

The two management roles that you would expect to have the clearest and fullest understanding of CRM, well, don’t, especially when compared to their assistants…

Marketing Managers 63.16% vs. Marketing Assistants 50%

IT Managers 60.61% vs. IT Assistants 54.55%

Perhaps then it’s time for the student who uses CRM to become the mentor?



Grim and Grimmer?

The news gets grimmer for management. When asked…

“Do you feel the person/people designing the CRM understood your role and what was important to you?”

… it was two of the most critical management roles who scored the highest dissatisfaction with a ‘No’ response:

Marketing Manager 57.89%

Sales Manager 68.42%



Bin It?

And again, it was management who felt that their CRM product had been so badly implemented that it would be better to replace it entirely:


IT Managers


of Marketing Managers

… and most worryingly…


of Managing Directors…

… want to junk their CRM platform and start over.



The Lesson?

Management clearly believes there are very real issues with optimisation and CRM understanding.



The Solution

Ask your CRM provider to train anyone who uses CRM and is found to be struggling – and to ensure that the company’s CRM platform is fully optimised.

Alternatively, employ a CRM consultant to do the heavy-lifting for you.

Your call.




  • Ensure that your staff understand how to use your CRM system
  • Ensure that your CRM system is fully optimised for your needs
  • An incorrectly implemented CRM system will lead to staff and management dissatisfaction

For more information about how CRM is being embraced by business and who uses CRM most effectively, download Redspire’s free report: What people really think about CRM.

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A useful definition of the three parts to Social CRM.

Social CRM is a big idea, and different people have different definitions. What really matters, though, is what it can do for your business – called CRM marketing. Accordingly, here’s how we define it at Redspire. Like so many good things, it comes in threes…


It’s how you listen to the world outside…

The first leg is social media monitoring: automating the way you pick up on Tweets, stories, trends, insightful snippets.. everything your customers and prospects are saying about you and your business area across the Web.

There’s an art to setting it up. For example, which keywords really matter to you? (Hint: it’s more than the name of your CEO.) Working out which terms, on which sites, and how to weight sources (some bloggers are more equal than others!) is a skilled task – but with your background you may be surprised at how much of it you can complete yourself. With, of course, the backup of a competent CRM partner.


What you do inside your database…

Listening is one thing; integrating what you hear as part of your business data is another. The second pillar of Social CRM is to make those valuable chunks of data part of your in-house armoury, by bringing outside profiles and data into your CRM system.

There are countless benefits to doing so. First off is simple data accuracy – if you’ve taken a job title in your Contacts from someone’s actual LinkedIn profile, it’s highly likely they’ll approve of being described that way! Second is topical. If you know what they’ve been discussing on Twitter or which hashtags are trending in their vertical, it gives you a great reason to take the conversation to the next level (and hopefully to the next stage of the sales funnel.)

Going deeper, the keywords and companies they use on their profile are an excellent source of mailmerge customisations in your email campaigning. Showing each customer that you’ve paid attention to who they are. This last is a reasonably straightforward but little-used aspect of Social CRM, particularly in the B2B sphere – so if you use it, you’ll be ahead of your competitors.


… and how you interact with customers

The third part of our tripartite definition involves the tools and channels a good CRM infrastructure adds to the relationship. On Microsoft Dynamics CRM, it’s called Yammer: a business-focussed social chat that connects to what your Contacts are saying across social media then brings those discussions into your customer relationship in real-time, both with your Marketing people and beyond.

Yammer adds that extra dimension to any chat you have with a customer – all their social mentions and the long tail of what they led to are explorable from within your CRM application, with no pesky going-off-site while you’re conducting the conversation. Of course, this means your conversation won’t lose context over time – a big problem if your business has long sales cycles or customer adoption curves.

And that’s our three-part definition of what Social CRM marketing can do for you. A few concepts… but a big idea. If you’d like to see what it can do for your business, talk to us at Redspire today.


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