What is CRM?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) refers to the way individuals within an organization interact with their current and potential customers.  There are many goals in developing and maintaining a CRM strategy including but not limited to; better customer satisfaction, increasing sales, cross-selling, up-selling, reducing churn and converting leads.

CRM, although typically sharing the the same or similar overall goals, looks a little different for each company.  Each company has their own styles, strategies and best practices – there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’.

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What is CRM software?

In many instances organizations leverage technology to assist to manage these relationships.  Technologies range from Excel to Email and in many cases CRM software.  CRM software can help you manage, analyze, crunch data, report on customers, automate sales and marketing initiatives, provide support, and overall be that one spot that provides a hollistic overview of the customer for any member of your organization to access.

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Who uses CRM software?

Organizations of any size can benefit from CRM software, from a sole-proprietorship through to Enterprise fortune 100 companies.

Within an organization any individual or functional team can benefit from using the platform; Sales, Marketing, Support, Project Management, Development, HR, or any other team or individual from an office administrator to CEO.

Each user will access the system the same way (by logging in), however the data, application access and the way the CRM software is used can be dramatically different.

Some organizations have a few users to a single team using the system, while others have the entire company participating.

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How is CRM software used?

It is imperative that the decision to move forward with a CRM system has proper planning, execution, implementation and buy-in from execs, in addition to the team using the system ‘as intended’.

As intended has different meanings depending on the business and the functional role of the individual or team within the company.  A CRM system is only as strong as the information that goes into it.  For example, as a VP of Sales you would like to keep a pulse on how opportunities and sales are trending for the quarter to ensure you’re going to meet targets.  If the sales team isn’t entering key information concerning the status of the opportunity (this could be updating stages, notes, closing an opportunity whether it’s a win or a loss), the pipeline reports and overall numbers will be off.

There may be push back from the team at first – remember: “Nobody likes change but everyone loves better!”.

The CRM system isn’t meant to be onerous, it’s meant to; help teams collaborate, provide better customer services, gain visibility within and across functional teams, perform / automate tasks (ex. generating reports, identifying up-sell and cross sell opportunities, Emailing reminders / updates to team members) as well as a host of other benefits.

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Is CRM software a good fit for every company?  

A CRM system when properly designed, implemented and used as intended can have a tremendously positive impact to all areas of the business.  That being said it isn’t for everyone.

 Why wouldn’t CRM software be a fit?

 Firstly we can say with the utmost confidence that each of the concerns below can be addressed relatively easily.  Typical concerns are typically made due to a lack of understanding of how a CRM system can be leveraged to benefit the business.  Addressing concerns or objections varies across different businesses, it’s important to be specific versus ambiguous when speaking to a specific concern however we’ve illustrated certain points as denoted by ‘XYZ’ below:

  1. Concern: It adds an unnecessary level of complexity. A: While not every aspect of the business needs to be handled within the CRM, certain elements can be automated, managed and shared throughout the organization resulting in processes that streamlined allowing your teams to spend more time selling rather than crunching numbers and endless meetings, it provides better insight, visibility and customer satisfaction resulting in higher sales and less churn.

  2. Concern: Our business isn’t ready it’s too small.  A: While you may consider your business small we understand your objective is to grow.  A CRM system can help lay the foundation to grow your business in XYZ ways.  In addition, our experience has been that the longer a company waits to implement the more difficult it becomes to get everyone on board and port data from disparate systems.

  3. Concern: We don’t have budget.  A: While there may not be immediate capital available or budget explicitly set aside for CRM software and an implementation, companies (in tandem with the CRM vendor) should build an ROI case factoring in XYZ points.  While most businesses will see CRM as a ‘cost of doing business / cost center’ it can and typically does pay for itself over and over again through reduced operating costs (ex. automate tasks that would otherwise be manually completed by employees), better lead acquisition and conversion, insights that will allow the Sales team to cross-sell and up-sell existing clients and much more.

  4. Concern: There is no buy-in from the executive team.  A: If you’re not a decision maker it’s important to engage the right team members from the beginning – get executive buy-in quickly.  Don’t spin your wheels!  CRM vendors will be reluctant to work with a ‘lone wolf’ without purchasing power.  Even as a gate keeper it’s important that both the company and vendor work side by side from the beginning to ensure the goals, concerns, discovery and demonstration are relevant and reach the right audience to avoid a lengthy, expensive, repetitive and potentially ‘we missed the mark’ evaluation.

 It is a very rare event where CRM wouldn’t add value to a business.

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How might your company benefit from CRM software?

There is a lengthy list of benefits.  While most businesses benefit from the ‘obvious’ overall themes, there are also benefits unique to the specific organization.

Some common benefits may include:

  1. Reporting – Instant reports generated based on your data.  Gain valuable insights and know where your employees and organization stand in real-time!  Also avoid having to crunch numbers in an Excel sheet resulting in more accurate calculations and saving time to let you focus on what’s important!

  2. Visibility – Rather than spending an inordinate amount of time on the phone or in a boardroom with your boss, they can simply check in on updates via the CRM and reach out when necessary for high value interactions!  Takes the micro out of micro-management!

  3. Automation – Receive automatic updates based on the status of an opportunity, when a deal closes, remind a rep to reach out to a client, create and send reports for weekly meetings, send automatic updates to customers as their service issues are being addressed, identify opportunities for cross-sell / up-sell notifying your Sales team to reach out or intuitively auto E-Mail the client a personalized offer.

  4. Customer Satisfaction / Sharing Data / Collaboration – Providing a 360 degree view of the client from Sales, to support, marketing, projects and beyond for a holistic, cohesive, unparalleled customer service experience.

  5. System Integration – Integrate the CRM with ex. Quickbooks to auto generate invoices and keep the books up to date

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Which CRM platform should we use?

Not all CRM systems are created equally.  We have CRM comparison information that helps provide high level information here.  The most important part isn’t how many or which features are available, it’s that the vendor offers the features and functionality that are right for YOUR business.

There are considerations in terms of functionality, potential integration with other systems your company uses, implementation, overall cost amongst a variety of other factors.  It’s important that your team clearly identifies your current challenges and goals prior to commencing an evaluation.  Our team can assist from the beginning by identifying potential vendors, assisting through the evaluation / negotiating process, to implementation, launch and ongoing support.  Check out our full list of services here.

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The evaluation – what should we expect?

 An end to end evaluation may take a few days to months depending on the size of your organization, complexity of the implementation, number of potential vendors and your evaluation plan.

Below is a generic list of evaluation steps to help put your team on the right path (there may be most or less steps, a different order, amalgamated steps or the process may look different entirely depending on your needs, the vendors, etc):

  1. Identify challenges and goals – crucial to understand what you’re looking for in a vendor, and if in fact you require a CRM system or otherwise

  2. Review and shortlist vendors – do some independent research (much like you are now), or reach out to a CRM Consulting Specialist (US!)

  3. Contact shortlisted vendors – you will typically be ‘high-level’ qualified by a front-line representative.  An Account Executive will reach out to follow-up.

  4. First Contact – An Account Executive will typically reach out for a light first touch

  5. Discovery – The second contact will typically be a discovery call to cover your end to end process, qualify the deal (timeline, budget, decision makers) and plan next steps.  A Sales Engineer and potentially an implementation partner may be involved during this step depending on the size of the opportunity.  Multiple discovery calls may be required which include engaging with different functional teams.

  6. Demo – Based on discovery calls the vendor will typically create a custom demo reflective of your internal processes, addressing your challenges and goals.  There may be a presentation(s) pre and / or post demo by the Account Executive to discuss the process, ROI, pricing and other key points relevant to your evaluation.

  7. Negotiation – It’s important to know the sticker price versus what you should be paying based on your volume of licenses, in addition to the best time to buy (ex. the vendor’s end of quarter / year-end).  There can be significant discounts which is why it’s important to know your vendor!  We offer CRM Insider guides that can help you save thousands or more!

  8. Purchase

Post-Purchase there are typically a few additional steps which include:

  1. Implementation partner selection

  2. Implementation

  3. Training

  4. Launch

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How much will it cost?

All-in cost can vary dramatically – some factors that will impact price are:

  1. Vendor selection – prices and models can vary drastically from vendor to vendor

  2. Number of users – how many licenses are required if it’s subscription based?

  3. Type of users – many vendors offer different user / licenses types depending on the level of access required

  4. Time of year you purchase (there may be significant discounts if it aligns with an end of quarter / year-end!)

  5. Who you’re evaluating (if you’re evaluating a major competitor you may be able to negotiate for ‘cut-throat’ pricing!)

  6. Implementation – Tailoring the CRM system to be relevant to your business is paramount.  Implementation partners, types and overall pricing can vary dramatically

A CRM system does not need to be a COST CENTER!  It’s important to create a realistic ROI / cost-benefit analysis prior to or in tandem with your vendor (or the Pick a CRM team for a completely unbiased breakdown)!

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