4 Steps to Ensure CRM Success

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Investing in and implementing a customer relationship management (CRM) solution is no small feat. It often requires significant money, time, and technical know-how. As many as two-thirds of all CRM deployments fail for one reason or another. Before jumping into a CRM project, it’s important to first understand what kind of role your CRM solution can play and the nuances of the service it can provide. If implemented correctly, a CRM can be one of a company’s most powerful assets.

Let’s start by outlining what a CRM solution is and why is it important for your business. Simply put, a CRM is the ultimate resource for streamlining operations across sales, marketing, and customer service. At its core, CRM software is designed to improve efficiency and productivity, resulting in better customer satisfaction and higher profits. It can be used to help understand the needs or concerns of your customers and be more organized and more strategic in activating customer relationships. Without the help of a CRM, managing customer data, tracking leads, fielding customer feedback requests in an efficient and organized manner can be challenging—and that’s just the basic functionality offered by most solutions. A CRM can also simplify customer communication channels, maintain ongoing customer contact through nurture campaigns, and even predict customer buying behavior.

But just like any other software solution, a CRM is not 100 percent foolproof. Mistakes can be made, technically and operationally. It’s crucial that all users are trained on how the system works and what it does and does not do. Here are four areas businesses must get right to ensure CRM success.

1. Deployment

Not surprisingly, the first step in CRM success is making sure it is properly deployed. The good news here is that nearly all CRM systems today are cloud-based, which makes for quick activation, easy accessibility, and little heavy-lifting. Nevertheless, for accomplishing this, it’s a good idea to appoint a dedicated project manager. This person will make sure all necessary deployment steps are taken and goals are met on time. Along with the project manager, it makes sense to establish a CRM super-user who understands the ins and outs of the solution. This is also the person who can answer internal questions about CRM, as well as liaise with the CRM vendor and manage new information and/or updates pertaining to the platform once it’s been implemented. A reputable and certified third-party CRM integrator can provide both of these services. 

2. Setting Objectives/Expectations

Once these steps are taken, your team should set objectives and all expectations should be consistent, so that you can utilize and maximize the features of your chosen solution. By having a long-term approach to getting the best of your CRM, it can be better customized to meet your needs. In turn, you should streamline sales and marketing activities based on how they relate to customers and targets. It should go without saying that training your sales and marketing employees on how to best use the CRM is imperative, so that they will have a clear understanding on what features and functions they need to meet these goals. The good news again is that CRMs have become so user friendly that little training is required to get started.

3. Qualifying Leads

From there, the sales and marketing teams need to work together to develop qualified leads and following-through; each team has important roles to play in identifying potential opportunities, pursuing them, nurturing them, and, hopefully, converting them. They should have a shared understanding on customer profiles and what constitutes a lead and/or how they’re scored. Intuitive dashboards within your CRM can provide real-time actionable insights in this regard. This process will not only help in filtering out targets that are not suitable, but it can also help better align resources that can pursue the hottest leads and turn them into lasting customers.

4. Data Management

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, your CRM users should pay close attention to the data they’re entering into the system, initially and in real time. A CRM is only as good as the data it holds. Because CRM software can manage—and secure—huge amounts of data, it serves users best when data is entered and updated accurately. Incorrect or incomplete customer data can become problematic for the platform, its users, and create disorganization and disharmony among teams. By identifying, collecting, and inputting the right information into your CRM, sales and marketing can make data-based decisions with confidence, increasing efficiency, measurability, and providing immediate and lasting results for your customers. And because modern CRMs offer mobile access, they can accomplish this from virtually anywhere, at any time.

A CRM, while vital, should just be viewed as another tool in the sales and marketing armament. When used properly and wisely it can be incredibly powerful at increasing revenue while decreasing sales costs. Conversely, it can be a massive hindrance when not cared for from the outset of deployment. Keep in mind, a CRM solution works best with a thoughtful sales-marketing strategy, and a marketing strategy works best with high functioning CRM - neither are good on their own. Choose your CRM carefully and be sure to have good help to guide you along the way.   

Arun Upadhay, CEO and founder of LionOBytes, is a technology expert and serial entrepreneur. He has a proven record leading teams and producing cutting-edge IT solutions. His experience spans various continents, industries, and corporate sizes (from start-up to Fortune 500). His latest venture is LionO360, a cloud-based CRM designed specifically for small to midsized businesses. 

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