Savvy Execs find Hidden Treasure in CRM Failures
Typically, it’s not a good idea to focus on technology as a means to improve strategy. However, sometimes it can help to look at things form a different perspective. If sales are lagging behind industry averages and internal feedback regarding strategy improvements have slowed to a trickle, it’s likely your organization has lost its edge and requires a reboot of sorts.
If this is true for your organization, consider using your CRM system as a catalyst to revitalize your people and market strategy. By focusing the discussion on resolving issues with your CRM, you can effectively re-engineer your strategy from the ground up. This change in context will help everyone to think differently, become more focused, and design changes that directly impact the bottom line.
When leveraging this type of strategy it’s essential that you analyze the following three areas.
01: Strategy and Process before Technology
Companies that get the most from their CRM investments are those that follow well defined marketing and sales strategies and processes. They’re also least likely to be frustrated by the CRM technology they use. If you find yourself preoccupied by what your CRM system will and won’t do and low user adoption, it may be time to go back to the basics. Ask yourself:
- Are your sales and marketing strategies, goals and processes well defined, documented and understood by everyone?
- Do your strategies and processes directly align with achieving the company’s goals?
- Have your strategies and processes kept pace with the changing realities of the marketplace?
- Do you use your CRM system primarily as a management oversight tool or as a vehicle to enable greater success for all involved?
Poor company-wide compliance with CRM processes can be an indication that there are broader issues that need to be addressed. Earnest self-assessment to this end can be enlightening and ultimately result in dramatic improvements in performance.
02: Use Analytics to Fuel Insight Selling
Today’s sales forces operate in an incredibly challenging environment. Customers are far more sophisticated than in years past and have instant access to vast amounts of product information and reviews. Combine this with the fact they’re barraged with marketing messages that do more to commoditize competing brands than differentiate them and you’re left with an inherently skeptical and distant buyer.
Companies that arm their sales and marketing teams with relevant data driven insights are able to cut through all the noise and significantly outperform those who don’t. Bottom line, customers will reward partners who help improve their performance and make their lives easier. Execute a similar strategy and you can expect to:
- Identify new sales opportunities and service offerings
- Increase individual average transaction and wallet share of customer spend
- Increase top line revenue, margins and customer lifetime value
- Improve marketing ROI and marketing/sales alignment
Incorporating sales and marketing data driven insights with your CRM system can be a game changer. It can elevate you in the eyes of your customers, transforming you from a transaction based vendor to a trusted partner with performance improving insights.
03: Confirm your Technology will Support your Strategy
Most CRM packages on the market today do an adequate job of supporting simple sales processes and basic reporting. Far fewer efficiently support multifaceted sales and marketing processes and less than a handful support the most sophisticated processes or the types of strategies discussed previously. To determine if your existing CRM system is capable of effectively supporting the execution of your strategy, sales and marketing processes you need to assess the following.
- Does your system support the execution of your key sales and marketing processes?
- Does your system allow for a 360° view of your customer’s purchasing behavior, service history and demographics?
- How easily does your system integrate with other systems, i.e. business intelligence, marketing automation, e-commerce system, email and ERP?
- Is your system flexible enough to grow with your business, i.e. configuration vs customization?
- Does your system offer comprehensive standard reporting and ad hoc analysis?
The best CRM systems are designed to be flexible enough to grow with your business and to integrate easily with other applications and data sources. The more sophisticated your strategy is, the more sophisticated your infrastructure needs to be to support it.
Sometimes we undervalue the symbiotic relationship between our strategy, processes and CRM systems. In other words, CRM systems are rarely, solely, responsible for the frustration directed at them. On the other hand, maximizing CRM ROI normally always leads to increased sales and improved marketing performance.