In 2016, the customer relationship management (CRM) market grew 27 per cent year over year — doubling 2015 growth. More organizations are investing in powerful technology to help them build, improve, and maintain customer relationships. To get the most out of their investment, you know it’s not as simple as writing a check: Maximize your CRM platform’s benefits by feeding it complete and accurate data, tailoring the setup to your needs, and instructing all employees on how to use it effectively. Here’s how to do all three.

The Ins and Outs

One of the reasons modern CRM systems are so effective is that they use data to give adopters insights about how they’re performing, customer behaviour, and how to choose the best path to forge ahead. Using a CRM’s robust analytics, detailed reports, and easy-to-read graphics is how many businesses are launching ahead of their competition.

If you’re not seeing the results you need, however, it may be time to examine the data you’re feeding your CRM. Analytics are only as good as the information they use, so accurate input is key. Encourage your team to input accurate info by making the process intuitive, straightforward, and quick. Create quality assurance protocols and, if necessary, assign a staff member to the task of ensuring completeness and accuracy.

Tailored Setup

CRM training specialist Brent Leary says that some organizations, especially medium-sized businesses, find that their CRM system implementation falls short of expectations. He attributes much of this dissatisfaction to “growing pains," which are often due to difficulties with scaling their system up to meet their increasing needs. Avoiding this pitfall starts with choosing the right CRM solution and moulding it to suit your company’s specific needs.

Flexibility

When choosing a CRM platform, keep two things in mind:

●      Immediate requirements based on what your business looks like now
●      Future requirements based on where you want to take your business in the future

One of the benefits of choosing a cloud-based system is the ability to choose only the services and products you need now and leaving the option open for future upgrades as your requirements change. This ensures an easy transition when scaling up, and keeps your budget in check should you need to scale down.

Involve Your Team

Not sure exactly what you need now? Ask your team — especially those who will use the CRM system most heavily — which features are must-haves, which can wait, and whether certain bells and whistles would make their work easier. A good rule is to choose the most straightforward system you can.

Get Your Team on Board

A concern for executives who are ready to implement a CRM system is getting their staff to use it effectively. Try these tips for helping your team make your new platform an important part of their workflow.

Keep Staff in the Loop

As mentioned previously, your entire team needs to be part of the decision and implementation of a CRM platform. They will learn new software, tailor it to fit their needs, and spend time and energy in the transition. Nip any potential issues in the bud by asking for input before you invest in a system. Make their input part of your decision-making process and use it when setting the system up, too.

Provide Training

Tailoring your CRM system to be simple and straightforward is one way to help employees transition to the new system. To see the most success with your platform, there’s no replacement for proper training that:

●      Emphasises how the system fits into your overall sales, marketing, and service plan.
●      Shows staff how its features take care of important tasks. For example, if sales reps use a spreadsheet to keep track of touchpoints for individual customers, show them how the new system organizes and manages touchpoints in a more efficient way.
●      Goes over the features you anticipate will be most useful. Your staff may discover a use for a feature that makes all the difference for them. Have them share their strategy with your team.
●      Lasts long enough to thoroughly cover when your team needs to know, and includes regular refreshers for less-used or new features.

Use It Yourself

The more a CRM system becomes part of your organization, the more useful it will become. Many platforms have delegation and accountability features built in so you can assign tasks to your team. Ask team members to check for new tasks in the system, use CRM-generated reports to lead your team, and reference the system in communications. This will make it clear that the new system is what will help power your business from now on.

Make it Mobile-Friendly

Just as sales is often about removing obstacles from a lead’s path to a purchase, encouraging change in an organization is about making the new choice the easy one. Ensuring your CRM platform is available on smartphones, tablets, and laptops encourages the 80 per cent of employees who don’t regularly work at a desk to adopt it.

Companies that invest in CRM systems run more efficiently. For more information, check out our ebook, “Your Complete CRM Handbook.”

Complete CRM Handbook