CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

Choose your CRM wisely

Choose your Customer Relationship Management software wisely to centralize data with one single version of the truth. CRMs are not the holy grail.

CRM is a vast category. Since the arrival of Salesforce almost 20 years ago, this category has been growing in a spectacular way.

Contrary to what a lot of sales professionals might think or expect, not all companies have already acquired CRM. Some companies use their ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) tool for customer data and others just use Excel. On the other hand, large corporations went through heavy implementation trajectories in the last years moving legacy data systems to a new cloud solution.

Often, these tools were sold as being the holy grail, providing a solution for all a companies’ needs, automation gaps and inefficiencies in internal collaboration. Sales teams were told CRM would make their lives easier and they would sell more.

The reality appeared far from true. Whereas CRM did solve critical issues, sales teams often consider CRM as an administrative tool they need to use from management.

What CRMs are good at, is centralizing end-customer data. Big or small, every company should adopt a CRM system as one of its first tools for sales and marketing.

I would consider the following critical processes that should be captured in a CRM system:

  • Contact data: make sure you store all the contact details of the relevant people. This could be end customers, sales partners, prospects, investors, etc.

  • Company data: obviously, companies are different from contacts.
    Contacts can move to another company, companies have different departments and are mostly steady entities.

  • Leads: lead management has become one of the most critical parts of any business. Interested prospects can show interest in different channels, on your website, on an event, at your sales partner, on social media, etc. Capturing these flows and guaranteeing a solid system of lead qualification and lead passing is key for top-line business growth.

  • Opportunities: with the arrival of CRM, sales shifted from being art to science. Understanding the dynamics in the different phases of a sales funnel, the sub-steps, the lead times per step, and the conversion ratios are essential for any business willing to increase turn-over.
  • Offers and invoicing: once we arrive at the end of the funnel, a more administrative process takes over, making an offer, modifying an offer, sending an offer, following up and finally closing a deal and sending an invoice. Helping sales and support teams with automated reminders, digital signatures, etc will take a lot of hassle out of the process and will increase the chances to get the final signature.

So as we can see, CRMs are covering all of the processes, making us wonder if we can all cover these processes in one tool. And that’s exactly the challenge of a lot of CRM systems. Some of them are only capturing a couple of the processes or are only good at some of them. That’s why I would recommend choosing your CRM wisely and taking into account the size of your company.

Recommended tools

Recommended tools for Enterprise Companies and Corporations.

  • Salesforce.com
  • Microsoft Dynamics

These are the two biggest cloud-based players out there. They have the most advanced features and are used to work with large enterprises. They are able to cover all of the above-mentioned domains.

Adopt a digital strategy of best breed

The downside of these tools can be complex and UX (User Experience). All credits to the well-trained sales squads of these large and famous software vendors who are able to sell their products as the holy grail to C-level promising to cover all business needs. However, more and more large companies start to understand that one size fits all is a myth.

The different critical business processes require different tools and UX. In the same way, you don’t use presentation tools like Powerpoint to write documents (cfr. Word), you don’t use CRM for managing your business plans (cfr. BRM).