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3 Secrets to CRM Success

Steve Surdez

Customer Relationship Management Software, or CRMs, come in all shapes and sizes and each has its own bells and whistles. So how do you know which CRM is right for your business?

What if we told you you're asking the wrong question.

What if instead of focusing on whether or not Salesforce or Infusionsoft are the right fit, you take a hard look at your internal processes and ask: Are my business processes and team the right fit for any CRM right now?

Your answer might be yes if you've worked for years to refine how work flows across your organization. And that's great--hit the CRM shopping aisles.

More than likely, however, your processes need more work, more silos need to fall and your sales and marketing teams need to be better aligned.

Many companies see CRMs as a panacea for all that ails them.

They are not.

A great piece of customer relationship management technology can do wonders for performance, but only after you ask the following tough questions:

  • What's the Quality of Your Data? We've all heard the phrase, "Junk in, junk out." You could call it a cliche, but it is painfully true. Take a look at your customer or client data and ask:
    • Is our data all in one place?
    • Are the data fields consistent across all sources?
    • How much essential data is missing?
    • Is there key data we are failing to collect?
    • When was the last time our data was scrubbed?
    • How much work do we have to do to prepare the data for the CRM we are likely to purchase?
    • Do we have the right processes in place to ensure quality data entry across functions?
  • Do our departments communicate and work well together? Take a cold, hard look at how your departments work with one another. An organization with a silo-culture is not ready to maximize the power of most CRMs. Now, no company is perfect; silos will always exist, to some degree, but you need to consciously address the issue before making a major investment in technology that won't fix underlying fundamental problems. Look at your internal teams and ask:
    • Are certain teams consistently surprised by "rush" work coming their way?
    • Are your account managers providing timely billing information to finance?
    • Is your team in the field constantly frustrated by the support team at the home office?
    • Are projects getting dropped?
    • Is "scope creep" a major issue?
    • Do your internal teams get along personally? Can they work together in a world without silos?
    • Is there a disconnect between senior leadership's vision for the organization and how individual contributors experience that vision daily?

Now, you might be thinking, "Won't the CRM help with all these issues." It might help a bit, but the bottom line is poor information sharing and teamwork will manifest itself within the CRM and diminish its effectiveness. Effective teamwork and strong communication is a fundamentally human challenge and not something tech can fix. Strong software can exponentially enhance fundamentally sound workflows and teamwork; it cannot repair it.

Answering these hard questions about your team is critical, not only to solve the silo issue, but also as a barometer of how your team will react when it comes time to take on the Herculean task of actually implementing the CRM.

  • Are Marketing and Sales Aligned? We've written about the importance of marketing and sales alignment and service-level agreements (or SLAs) in prior blogs. Of all the relationships that matter when preparing to invest in a CRM, this one matters the most. If your marketing and sales teams are not communicating and their goals are not in sync, no piece of technology will function properly. If you find you can only focus on felling one silo this is the one to knock down before investing in a software program.

Let's be real. No business processes are perfect. All teams struggle to work together. And data is never immaculate.

That said, if you take anything away from this blog, let it be this: the best CRM on the planet won't work unless your underlying business processes are healthy.

So, if your business needs some work, stop researching CRM capabilities and start asking some hard questions. You'll be thankful you did later.

If you aren't sure where to start, we can help. We've helped businesses just like yours take the next step.

Reach out to us. We'd love to hear your story.
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