Ensuring you get value from your CRM

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What is the value of a CRM? This can be difficult to answer as it ranges greatly based on the business and the fact that CRM can mean a lot of different things. However, in almost all scenarios there is a primary benefit. It is designed to provide knowledge–knowledge of your market, customers, team, and processes. When done right, CRM will provide you the information you need to sell to your market smarter, satisfy your customers, coach your team, and create repeatable processes. However, none of this comes from simply buying the software.

The difference between highly successful and average organizations and teams is small. Think of any race you have ever been a part of or seen. The difference between winning and being the 5th, or forgotten, can be hundredths of a second. Business is not any different. Small impactful changes lead to winning, while lack thereof can lead to fighting for table scraps. Unfortunately, most of these small changes are not intuitive and sometimes difficult.

We recently had the chance to lead a peer group of business owners in a discussion about CRM. They were from a variety of industries that sell different products and services; however, they were all able to identify common benefits as well as struggles with CRM. This article will provide some of their insights into the value CRM can provide, what you must do to succeed, and some tactical best practices to get started on now.

The Market Share Scenario

CTRAX Why do you use a CRM?
Client To keep track of customers
Client Are you serious? For lots of reasons
CTRAX What’s a really important one?
Client In case someone leaves or gets promoted we have history
CTRAX Does your team see value in that?
Client Some I guess….no probably not
CTRAX Were there any other reasons you started using it?
Client We lost some sales to customers
CTRAX Did you find out why?
Client In some cases, yes. They said we had not been out to see them. One said we never followed up with them after the previous sale. They said they have seen our trucks pass by many times.
CTRAX Based on that, why would you say you are using a CRM?
Client To make sure our customers are happy and we do not lose sales
CTRAX What do you want?
Client I want 65% market share and customers that rave about us
Client We get better discounts, opportunities to grow, I make more money, and this business becomes what I want it to be. One that provides great value to our customers.
CTRAX Does the rest of your team know this?
Client ……I think so
CTRAX Do you know what you need to do to get 65% and raving customers?
Client We need to call more customers and prospects
CTRAX Is your team busy?
Client Yes everyone has a lot going on
CTRAX So how will you make more calls?
Client …not sure
CTRAX Do you think everyone is getting done what they should in each call?
Client No…not even close
CTRAX So will making more of these calls really increase your market share and get raving customers?
Client No probably not
CTRAX Has your market changed?
Client YES!
CTRAX Do you need to do business differently now?
Client We have to fight harder for the business and show more value
CTRAX How do show value?
Client Every situation is different, everything is more complex and requires more people to sell

Insight #1
 – If you can’t explain it, neither can anyone else
If you were to ask any organization why they use a CRM, the answer will vary greatly. If you ask people within the same organization why, you will also get a variety of answers. In my most recent interviews, this was the case in all but a few scenarios. The few who showed consistency in their answers, were able to state it quickly and clearly. They could also tell you what they do that contributes or helps. As you would expect, the adoption of CRM as an approach to business, not just an application, is far higher in these organizations.

Insight #2 – It’s not an insurance plan
We have spent many years with organizations and their systems deciphering what provides value, what doesn’t, and how they should move forward. After different levels of involvement in hundreds of implementations, we figured out a simple way to predict whether an organization was headed down the right path or not. If your goal is to “track” to protect from loss (i.e. someone leaves or is fired), it’s going to be a tough road ahead. CRM can certainly provide protection, but it cannot be your driving reason to implement.

Insight #3 – Do not make ANY assumptions
“We don’t have enough time”…This is hands down the most common justification for not implementing a lot of things well, or at all. The reality is no one ever has enough time. It is about what you choose to do and how efficiently you go about doing it. If you do not know, for a fact, how you and your team spends their time, you are guessing about the strategies that will improve it. Everyone sees things from their perspective. You cannot always take their word on what is happening. You must see it firsthand.

Insight #4 – Not all things are created equal
It’s not enough for management to be able to know what a proper call or contact should be with a customer. They aren’t and shouldn’t be the ones making them. If your team cannot tell you the objective of every contact they make and the value they will provide to a customer, there is room for improvement. Pushing people to make more contacts, without first knowing how good and efficient the contact is, will not increase sales, market share, customer satisfaction, etc. Every team member has different skills and weaknesses. A blanket rule for how many calls they should make will not necessarily make the poor, average, or above average performer better.

Insight #5 – It’s about what you do with information
“Our people won’t use ’it’”…The most common reason we hear this is no one really knows why they are using “it”. Leadership and upper management have their reasons and had several meetings about it, but it is still unclear. Without consensus (understanding and agreement), team members come to their own conclusions about what you are trying to do. More often than not, they assume the worst, even when completely wrong. If you are not using information provided by your team to help and develop them, they will resist providing you what is requested.

Insight #6 – CRM is a moving target that should change with your market
When was the last time a project you were involved in went exactly as planned? They do happen, but it’s rare. A very successful business owner and friend once said he felt like the bigger the project plan, the bigger the disappointment. What he went on to say was there were always unexpected hurdles or problems, unknowns, that would send ripples through what was thought to be such a well laid out plan. What he observed was there was very little value in long-term project plans that do not have the flexibility for change.

Questions to consider:

  1. Are you clear about the desired result you want in your organization?
  2. Have you clearly identified the key strategies to get there?
  3. Have you tested your strategies with the intention of changing them based on what you learn?
  4. Is what you ask your team to input aligned directly with the strategies?
  5. Does your team understand how what they input helps them and the company?
  6. Are you using everything team members input to help or improve their skills?

Top producing organizations are clear about what they want. They concisely identify what must be measured. Define it, monitor it, and provide valuable feedback to their team to improve. Common focuses are on sales calls and quoting. Quoting is typically too late in the process to coach and improve your team. Contact is of course critical, but all too often we see managers without an understanding of what is really happening in the field. They think they know, but they are rarely correct when we start digging in. If the information you are getting from your team is bad, not worth reviewing, it is usually caused by one of two things.

  1. Team members don’t not understand why and do not see value in giving you the information.
  2. They simply are not doing the work. For example, they are not calling the prospects or making quality calls to customers.
customertraxEnsuring you get value from your CRM