Most people know that when the term “CRM” is used, it refers to enterprise software that is used to manage all your company’s relationships with customers and prospects with the goal of improving business relationships. When people talk about CRM, they are usually referring to a CRM system, a tool that helps with contact management, sales and inventory management, partner management, productivity, and more. Implementing a CRM solution often requires an exercise in examining (and challenging) how you currently work, the systems that support that work, and the expectations of your clients or business partners. So how do you know that your company is ready for a CRM?
Being ready does not mean a detailed requirements list is ready, it means you have an idea of where to find your business value and how the CRM initiative will impact your organisation.
- You have a need to drive profitable growth, increase revenues or reduce costs associated with duplicated effort or other inefficiencies in the “front office”, “back office” and field operations functions.
- You have a need to reduce administrative overhead associated with manual processes and duplicate data entry.
- You have a need for data-driven decision making through enhanced reporting capabilities and real-time visibility of operations.
- You have a need for a centralised source of reliable information on clients, business partners, prospects, products, beneficiaries and/or suppliers.
- You have a need for easy access to relevant information and easy to use reporting facilities
- You have a need to automate processes or critical alerts to reduce errors or missed opportunities.
- You have a need for easy access to relevant information and easy to use reporting facilities.
- You have a need to optimize your delivery channels.
- You have a need to comply with GDPR and other data compliance regulations, with a centrally managed system always making this easier.
- You have a need to improve client retention or reduce cost of client acquisition by providing individualized service or targeted marketing.
- You have a need for information integrated from other sources to understand your key customer groups and establish long-term relationships with your customers.
- You have a need to monitor and review your customer’s response to your efforts.
- You have a need to identify customer groups to target for new or add-on sales.
That said, CRMs cost money but the true cost associated with them is more than just a monthly fee. You’ll need to implement the CRM correctly. If you’ve researched and identified the right solution, you’ll need to integrate it with your other software applications, find and specialized consultants who know how to execute that integration, and train your staff on how to use the CRM so your operations run smoothly. That last part is crucial — you need to have the buy-in of the stakeholders and staff in your organization to make your CRM investment worthwhile. If the staff aren’t updating information immediately and consistently, all of your organization’s data will be extremely well organized, but it will also be completely inaccurate.
How do you know that a CRM is worth the investment? If you can track on your customer, staff, supplier or beneficiary data on a spreadsheet, you might be too early for a CRM. Consider using a spreadsheet for a while until you have an aggressive growth trajectory. However, if you’re out of that small growth phase we described above, you might just be ready for a CRM. Again, you could continue to manually document organizational data and your team’s information and activities — you could even create some wonderfully complex shared spreadsheets to keep track of it all — but it just isn’t the most efficient, long-term solution to manage this information. In order to maintain an accurate database of information, you’ll need all hands on deck — but do you really want all hands in one spreadsheet? Not only is this not scalable, but it will also result in inaccuracies. Remember, you can have really well organized customer and prospect data, but it is all inaccurate because your team isn’t properly trained (and required) to use the CRM? The same will happen if you wait too long to implement a CRM — you’ll have well-intentioned staff who just can’t keep up with updating the information flow. If you’re dealing with this type of data volume, it’s a sign that it’s time to make that resource investment in a CRM system.