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When CRM Works for You

By Alessandra Ceresa

 

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 7
Photo Credit: Unsplash

 

I recently pitched an article idea to Inc.com, but I haven’t heard back, so i’m sharing  with you my ideas on CRM and why so many businesses fail with this incredible technology. It is not because they are not tech-savvy or sophisticated enough. No, no. Small businesses often fail with CRM because they think of it in terms of features and capabilities, not as comprehensive strategy built for the entire team.

Because of it’s complexity, CRM is not something that is implemented overnight. On the contrary, it is built over time, after strategic thought and planning. At least if you want to make it work for you, not against you. This is also necessary as you scale.

A lot of small business fail, but you can give yours the chance to grow (and succeed) if you think, plan, and act strategically.  

CRM implementation is scary for many small businesses. They understand the need, but few fail to do the research to properly setup and implement the system so it works for their specific business needs.

 

CRM implementations fail because they rely on only a few people to actually use the system. It is a tool rather than a strategy or mindset.

  • CRM can be a time suck and resource waster if not used properly.

  • Sales teams are resistant to change - it is the job of the business owner to evolve the culture to be more data driven and process driven.

  • Teams are not properly trained.

  • They use it as a sales tactic rather than a business strategy that involves all teams

  • They do not select the right system for their business (It is either too complex or they do not see immediate value from their implementation).

  • Time to Value is often too long for small businesses.

 

As CRM and CRM systems evolve, I think so will the approach businesses take to evaluating systems.

  • Teams become more aware of digital strategies including customer success, customer experience, and customer lifecycle management.

  • Sales, marketing, and operations teams begin to collaborate more.

 

There are more CRM options available for small businesses.

  • There are more integrated systems that do not require extensive technical abilities or dedicated IT teams.

  • More and more platforms are easier to use, easier to implement, and provide real value to users immediately.

  • Systems do more, meaning they are more useful for the entire team, not just a single department.

  • There are systems specifically designed for small business. This means easy-to-use, less complex, do not require HTML knowledge, better UX and design, easier to navigate for the more novice users.

  • Systems like Zapier exist to help easily integrate the tools businesses use most without having to do extensive API work.

  • Customer support teams are now customer success teams.

  • The realization that the customer experience is #1, resulting in more vendors developing programs to help their customers succeed.

 

Advantage #1: Increased productivity and better use of your workforce

  • CRM helps businesses organize (It’s a mindset and a strategy, not just a tool)

  • Integrated solutions with marketing automation let small businesses automate a lot of manual tasks freeing up more resources for other business development opportunities.

  • Better usage of resources

 

Advantage #2: Helps businesses connect and engage with their leads and customers

  • Spreadsheets, post-it notes, and a stack of business cards are the root cause for tasks and leads slipping through the cracks.

  • A CRM houses this information, making it available across teams for better communication, collaboration, and sales processes.

  • Keeps teams accountable to their leads and customers through workflows, CRM activities, notes, integration with email, etc.

 

Choosing the right CRM is tougher than you would think.

  • There are a ton of options, however CRM is NOT one size fits all.

  • Consider your entire team. For CRM to work as it is intended, it must involve each department in some capacity. When selecting a system, bring in the key players in each department to help you determine your list of needs/wants for a CRM platform.

  • Narrow the search down to 3 or 4 platforms that you think might work for your team and that include the list of features you want. Get demos, take advantage of their free trial, and review case studies and use cases. You can see if there are businesses similar to yours using the system.

 

Once you choose the right system, now what?

  • Do not rush implementation. Do not immediately import contacts and start sending emails. Think before you implement.

  • Create a plan. Any CRM you choose, especially if you are new to the CRM game, make sure they have accessible training and support. YOU WILL USE IT.

  • Implement in steps, not all at once. Roll out strategically and as a team, not one-by-one. All stakeholders must understand the process AND the purpose.

 

Conclusion

Successful CRM implementation is a collaborative labor of love. It takes more than just purchasing a system and hoping it works to, well, make it work. Follow my advice above and think carefully before you take the plunge. This will help you be far more successful in the long-term.

 

If you would want to learn more about CRM implementation, contact us. We are your partner in business.

 

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