Today's CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is better than yesterday's because: (a) CRM systems can now deliver greater productivity returns and (b) vendors' software usability is much improved. These advancements (and others) mean less time and lower costs to implement a CRM system. And the more people in a given company who use a CRM system translates to more benefits and a higher ROI on a CRM investment. Research notes that for every dollar a company invests in a CRM system, it earns $5.60.
But not everyone who has a CRM system is experiencing the expected return and, thus, some are CRM haters. It may depend on how you choose and implement your CRM system. To help you get the most from your CRM, here are some common mistakes and ways to avoid them.
Mistakes When Choosing/Implementing a CRM System and How to Avoid Them
(1) - Not thoroughly understanding your current marketing-and-sales processes and possible inefficiencies therein, and wrongly thinking that a CRM system will automatically provide "Best Practices" and make it all better. To assure that a CRM system will accomplish what you expect it to do, diagram your sales process and then overlay the current marketing campaigns. If it doesn't make sense on paper, you should not expect a CRM to fix your lack of alignment.
(2) - Thinking only in the present, such as the number of customers to serve and the type and amount of data to manage. Avoid this shortsighted thinking so your CRM system is not limited as your business grows. Select a CRM system that can scale with your growth.
(3) - Not including a solid representation of all end users in the CRM-selection process. Consequently, some individuals may reject or not effectively use the system. Avoid this situation by letting everyone know, right from the start, that the CRM is for the entire organization. Point out CRM's benefits for everyone; for example, making better decisions for management and to be more effective and efficient for end users. Getting a buy-in (an early buy-in) from C-level and other top influencers will encourage others to want to be on a winning team.
(4) - Choosing a CRM system that is not sales-rep friendly, especially for mobile users. Although CRM's heavier users are often managers, today's sales professionals need real-time productivity capabilities, such as scheduling follow-up phone calls, checking appointments, adjusting for last-minute changes while travelling, and summarizing information for account management. It is essential that sales reps are as effective out of the office as in the office.
(5) - Not considering social media's role with prospects and customers. Overcome this limitation by incorporating social media in your CRM system for added customer activities. It's a new world, and customers want to engage you their way; that is not only by phone or email, but other forms of social media.
(6) - Not including other marketing and customer-service tools with your CRM. Rather than thinking of CRM as a stand-alone sales system, integrate it with, for example, your Marketing Automation. The goal of CRM is to have one view of the customer relationship. You should expect your CRM to be the glue that binds marketing, sales, and service together.
(7) - Not choosing a CRM that you can configure or customize yourself. Your needs will change, often within weeks after deployment. You must be able to control your own CRM configuration and adapt to new requirements. Pick a system that puts the control in your hands, not the CRM vendor's. Pick a system in which most of your requests can be managed by configuration, not by a customized programming request to the vendor.
(8) - Having IT own the CRM system, not sales or marketing. CRM systems fail, not because of the technology, but because of misalignment of a business process and users' adoption. Because customer relations typically revolve around marketing, many companies now have a C-level Marketing Technologist to implement the system, establish guidelines, train, and monitor activities and results – for marketing, sales, and service. With increased complexities and the need for fast updates to meet specific challenges and opportunities, CRM should be seen as a company asset and managed accordingly. Strategy should precede the software, and technology should play a supporting, not leading, role.
(9) - Letting price dominate the final buying decision. The CRM system should be based primarily on specific organization needs, convenience for all pertinent personal to use, and maintainable by a dedicated staff or person. A better evaluation is to consider the three-year cost and expected return on a CRM system, rather than the one-time start-up cost.
(10) - Selecting the wrong CRM provider, such as a vendor who does not attempt to really understand your specific needs, or one who installs the software and then runs, or one who offers no ongoing strategy review and training. Your vendor should be willing to have a knowledge exchange with your team so they grow in their understanding of how to effectively use a CRM tool to grow your business.