A strong customer relationship management (CRM) system is often an indicator of a business that is highly efficient. Why? Because data in such a system is so cleanly kept that it can be analyzed and fed back to people responsible for selling a product.
And good selling can be boiled down to three things:
- Utility to the customer
- Fulfilling your product’s promise
- Establishing trust
From the moment that a salesperson establishes contact with a new lead, data is generated that is relevant to future business, including all the nuances that help you establish trust. How does your potential client like to be addressed? What is the best way to reach your potential client? What time of the day does your potential client prefer to be called?
It’s obvious why this data is useful: it helps you establish a relationship with a potential client by showing that you are sensitive to their comfort, and this makes them more likely to buy.
Yet most small businesses don’t start out thinking this way. Most of the time, the desire to create and ship a product outweighs thinking about what data needs to be collected about its usage. Why care about that?
CRM software as a skin
Good CRM systems can be thought of as a digital skin that sits over the raw selling process. By providing opportunities for automation of repetitive tasks that stress and burn salespeople out, a CRM can free the time of those salespeople so that they can focus on more important things, like the interests of the customer rather than on entering in data.
Laying a CRM system over the sales process in this way allows a business to scale faster, since clean recordkeeping means less mistakes and well-researched interactions between salespeople and clients.
So why does CRM software fail?
Since a CRM system is like a skin, it needs to grow and adapt to the sales process it covers. If the sales process changes in a way that the digital system can’t accommodate, there tends to be friction:
- Why change the way that I’m selling if my CRM software makes it hard for me to track that change? Or,
- Why spend thousands of dollars on a new CRM system that better accommodates emerging changes in my sales process?
CRM software fails when it is not designed for agility. Businesses are often dynamic machines, and it is important to be able to insert new parts and delete others without destroying their overall integrities. CRM systems destroy this integrity when they are not user-friendly, which means that a sales team needs to be constantly feeding information back into its CRM developer so that changes can be made on the fly.
CRM programs often also fail when a new sales leader insists on using a pre-designed solution without detailed, intimate knowledge of what it will take to implement it across a sales organization. This often stems from a lack of insight into the smaller, more nuanced processes that develop among individual teams to close deals.
Do you have CRM stories?
As a company gets larger it tends to split into specific segments that interact and share data. When CRM software is successful it plugs right into the flow of the systems that help manage other teams, leading to a huge need for accuracy, consistency, and a certain level of modularity.
Is your sales team getting the most out of their process? Do you have stories of CRM system failure or success? Tell us what you think in the comments.