• February 5, 2021
  • By Tyler Holmes, solution engineer, AllCloud

5 Tips for Effectively Managing Your CRM

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You just built out an entire CRM program. You defined your problems, designed your processes to address them, and built your platform to help your business scale. What happens next?

It’s critical to remember that your CRM platform is never “done.” It’s a living breathing part of your business that requires regular attention so it can evolve alongside your business. Let’s take a look at exactly what that entails.

1. Standardize, standardize, standardize.

One of the best steps you can take to improve CRM management is to standardize as much as possible. One of the easiest ways to do so is to use standard picklists wherever you can, as this will deliver clean, easy-to-work-with reporting.

But there’s a caveat to picklists, and that is the multi-picklist. The only thing worse than a free text field is a multi-picklist field. I’ve seen far too many organizations put a multi-picklist field on accounts and then a standard picklist field on opportunities. This approach ends up creating challenges when it comes to managing data and there’s really no good reason to do it. Standard picklist fields offer the most straightforward solution and will give you the reporting you are likely looking for as well as the ability to leverage standard capabilities like validation rules and automation.

2. Develop a strategy for duplicates.

Consider the following: It costs $1 to verify a record before you create it, $10 to clean it later, and $100 if you do nothing. This situation makes it critical to introduce a strategy for managing duplicates so that they don’t end up costing your organization a ton of money and hurting your users’ efficiency.

Ideally, you should aim to reach a point where less than 1 percent of your records are duplicates. That is no small task and can take a lot of time and work. Importantly, achieving that goal starts by finding the root of your problems and identifying the source of the duplicates. You can then put processes in place that define who can create records and which records they can create, hopefully avoiding duplicates before they are created.

For example, if you’re a B2B company, you might have a good portion of your account universe already in the system, so you could require users to request any changes to accounts and have an admin review each request. This puts a burden on the admin but improves your ability to catch any duplicates before they happen. There are also automated tools that can be leveraged, but they are not foolproof, require configuration, and will not completely eliminate manual process.

3. Use validation rules

Next, it’s important to create validation rules that control the input of data prior to saving. These rules can do everything from enforcing key data inputs at certain stages of a process to ensuring conflicting values are blocked from being saved.

Some commonly used validation rules include:

Opportunity stage progression: Don’t allow opportunities to move backwards in stages, and restrict users from moving opportunities to the next stage until they’ve input all of the designated information. These rules help ensure that users don’t move opportunities across stages at a whim and that opportunities don’t move through the stages too quickly; that way your team gets all of the necessary information at each stage to progress the deal properly.

Closed-won and closed-lost reasons: Require users to input details on “how” and “why” before they can mark an opportunity as closed-won or closed-lost. Everyone from sales to product teams benefit from the detail surrounding a win or a loss, so requiring that information in order to move the deal ensures that it’s not lost in the shuffle of moving on to the next opportunity.

4. Introduce proper process documentation.

If you want users to follow processes, then you need to give them documentation on how to follow that process and put guardrails in place so that they can’t deviate from it. Remember, too much process can also be detrimental to adoption so be careful not to over-engineer the process because then users will not embrace it. Asking for too much information or not providing enough value to the user in return for their work is a surefire way to make your new process a flop.

Think of it like this: Do you want salespeople to spend their time inputting data into the CRM or going out and talking to prospects to close more deals? There’s a healthy balance between getting the information you need in the way that you need it and optimizing for activities that drive outcomes like increased revenue. The key to striking that balance lies in implementing standardized yet simple processes that are easy to follow, well-documented, and aligned to key outcomes.

5. Stick to standard configuration (until you can’t).

Finally, leverage standard configuration until it’s no longer possible to do the things you need to do. The biggest benefit of sticking to standard configuration (and there are many) is that it ensures any integrations you need now or in the future will work properly. It sounds simple, but that can have a big impact on your organization.

The blessing and the curse with the top platforms is that there’s often 30 different ways to accomplish every task. That said, there is usually a generally accepted way of doing something, so take the time to search for what others have done because there are likely plenty of answers out there.

Ultimately, when you try to engineer something to do things it wasn’t intended to, you are left with a system that may break down at some point or you’re left with a Frankenstein-like tool that doesn’t work with other solutions you want to add in as your business grows and matures. It pays to be very particular about the way you configure your CRM platform and how you integrate any additional tools based on your needs now and in the future.

Maximize Value and Growth with Proper CRM Management

Taking steps to effectively manage your CRM technology is critical to maintaining the integrity of your program and ensuring it continues to support business growth, particularly as your organization matures over time. Introducing this type of management will take time, but it will position your business for maximum success and ensure you get the most value from your CRM technology in the long term.

Tyler Holmes is a solution engineer at AllCloud. Holmes has a wealth of experience in marketing and sales operations, working for agencies, consulting firms and brands, building teams and increasing revenue. In his role as solution engineer, Holmes helps to design and build scalable technology solutions that optimize sales and marketing teams for growth and deliver ROI.

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