The Ultimate Guide To Getting The Most Out Of Your CRM System

The Ultimate Guide To Getting The Most Out Of Your CRM System

Author: Gene Marks


Part 1:  The 5 Laws For CRM Success

Here’s some bad news:  most people fail when implementing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems. It may very well be a disappointment for you too.  You could be wasting your money.  At best, you may only have a glorified Rolodex.

My company services over 500 small and medium-sized clients that use the CRM applications we support. We’ve had a lot of successes but also a good share of disasters too.  I got sick of the bad projects and one day sat down to try and figure out why our great projects were so great.  Here’s what I found.

1. One Individual Stepped Up To The Plate

Every project needs an internal champion. The projects that succeeded had one.  I’m not talking about a Microsoft-Trained-Fortnite-IT-Propeller-Head either.  They’re only good for backups and security.

I’m talking about a really good administrative person, someone who is intelligent. This individual is your champion.

  • The champion is not afraid to make mistakes.  Or yell and scream if necessary.
  • The champion is authorized by management to get the job done…and evaluated on its success.
  • The champion should know everything about the system. They should get all the advanced training they need.
  • The champion is responsible for the accuracy of the CRM database.  The outside consultants are used to back up the champion.

If you don’t have someone like this in place then you will fail, fail, fail!

2. There Were Black And White Deliverables

Don’t try to “get more sales” or “improve your customer experience.”  That’s a joke.  You buy a piece of equipment to cut metal.  You purchase a truck to deliver your product.

  • What’s the specific thing that your CRM system should be doing?
  • How about 2-3 needed reports that you’re not getting?
  • How about replacing 2 databases with one combined system? Or a measurable rate of quote or service ticket resolution that’s above what you’re doing now.

Come up with an exact deliverable and have your CRM consultant tell you just how much it will cost to deliver it.  Justify this investment by how much more sales or fewer expenses will result.  Pay them when you see it and it’s working.

My best clients go into their implementations with a clear, measurable goal in mind.

3. They Were Firm

This is not a “win-win” situation.  You’re not trying to make people happy.  You’re putting in a system to help you generate more sales from existing and new customers.  Your competitors are doing it.

Don’t listen to those salespeople who don’t want to use this system – CRM applications are standard stuff nowadays.  The strongest managers I know look at CRM as just a tool to use to get them the information they need so they can manage their sales and service groups effectively.

People don’t like change.  Everyone’s got their own system.  Well, it’s not about them, is it?  It’s about the company.  If you’re not assertive and decisive with your direct reports, then avoid putting in a CRM system.


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4. They Took Small Steps At A Reasonable Pace

No-one turned the place upside down. Our successful clients took the attitude that their CRM implementation would take place over a long period of time and broke the project down into chunks.

Many figured out early that a “test group” of users (especially users with the right attitude) is the right place to start. This way they could get their feet wet and work out the kinks. And assuming success, the test group of users could help spread the gospel – train other employees and help with issues.

Each phase would be about 30 days or so. And of course, these phases were part of an overall plan. By doing it this way, management could make sure things were going according to plan and give themselves the opportunity to cut their losses if things weren’t really happening the way they hoped.

5. They Weren’t Afraid To Fail

Look, some really great and successful companies just don’t embrace CRM.  Their culture isn’t right for it.  They’ve succeeded without it.  Some of our clients’ CRM failures really weren’t failures at all.

Management knew that CRM was a new concept for their company and was willing to take a chance (remember about taking those small steps) on it.

CRM systems fail all the time and for many reasons beyond management’s control.  Don’t be afraid to walk away from something that’s just not a good fit.  If it was an affordable learning exercise, then it really wasn’t a failure at all.

Part 2: 7 Ways To Maximize Your CRM System

Can a CRM system really create profits for a company? A lot of people don’t think so – over the years the media has reported quite a few companies (both big and small) that have tossed a significant amount of dollars down the drain on these kinds of systems.

However, in reality, and during the 20 years, we’ve been selling and implementing CRM products we’ve seen many smart business owners really get a lot of bang for their bucks. Here’s how.

1. The Lonely Old Quote

Tyler, who runs a parts distribution company had a big problem: one of out of every ten quotes his salesmen sent were never followed up. Tyler made changes – he purchased a simple CRM system and made sure that each quote was tagged with a follow-up call and alerts to the sales staff when they were due.

He also built in an alarm for his sales manager in case a salesperson was ignoring his follow up calls. Every quote was now pursued with either a phone call or email.

Opportunities that could’ve slipped through the cracks were now addressed.

2. The Bright Side Of A Lost Sale

Don, a manager at a consulting firm, actually thinks there’s a bright side to a lost sale.  “Because of our CRM system,” he says, “we can track every time a sale does not go our way.”

Whatever the reason, Don’s company tracks the history and every three months runs a Lost Sales Report and does a post mortem.  It’s never pretty.  It’s oftentimes frustrating.

“But it’s ALWAYS educational,” Don continues. “Armed with where we’re screwing up, we can adjust and win back more dollars going forward.”  And he wouldn’t be able to do it without his CRM system.

3. Too Few Sales Calls, Too Many Donuts

Jim, another manager who works at a large cable company was often confronted by sales guys asking for more money.  Jim always turns to his CRM system and says “well, let’s take a look at the old batting average”.

Here, Jim can see how many quotes a salesperson put out vs. what he closed.  “Now, now,” Jim chuckles.  “What can we do to increase this percentage so YOU get more money.”  Jim tracks his sales people’s calls and appointments and looks at their productivity.

“Now why did you spend so much time with this little prospect, when you could’ve been spending more time with that bigger fish?”  A good CRM system helps the penny pincher squeeze the most efficiency from his sales team.


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4. Don’t You Hate Looking Like A Dope?

The other day Harry, a sales rep for a software company, called one of his customers to tell them all about the great features coming in the software’s up and coming new release.

“New release?” his customer yelled. “How about getting the OLD release working first!” Because Harry’s company didn’t have a CRM system, he had no idea that his service group was working on a problem with this customer.

A good CRM system ensures that everyone in the company knows everything that’s going on with your customers. This way no one looks like a dope when representing your business.

5. Too Few Service Calls, Too Many Donuts

It’s not just that good business people recognize the value of time as well as money, but that they do something about it.

  • Do you have a system that tracks how employees spend their time on issues, problems, breaks, and other customer complaints?
  • Is service time being wasted?
  • How come this one part has so many problems?
  • Should we keep doing business with that customer who calls us so much?

Using CRM software to track how productive your service group is will save a lot of pennies in the long run.

6. Fun And Games With Duplicate Data

For goodness sake, just how many places do I need to keep the same information?  Sandy kept asking herself this question.

A typical business owner, she hated the fact that customer information was entered on her website, in her accounting system, in her email system, in spreadsheets and other databases.

She designed one web form to capture the customer data and her new CRM system took care of the rest.  Enter it once, make it available elsewhere.

Buying a good CRM system?  A few thousand bucks. Using it to eliminate wasted time and incorrect data entry?  Priceless!

7. Getting The Word Out – Mass Communications

Alexis knew that the more customers she could reach, the more opportunities she could create. So she configured her CRM system to send out automatic emails to customers who hadn’t ordered in a while and to customers who ordered a product in the past who may be interested in an accessory or similar product.

She produced with her system direct mail pieces each day announcing specials. She created newsletters and integrated her system with social media.

Alexis is no mass marketer but she’s certainly a great business owner. And her bottom line shows the results!

In Conclusion

Having an effective CRM system in place can help you understand your processes better that improves lead generation and get the most out of your team.

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