What's in a CRM system? Increased profits, that's what!

WRITTEN BY SIMON RODERICK, MARCH 21

If COVID has done anything, it’s given CEOs an opportunity to review business processes and to make wholesale changes. I suspect most businesses have reviewed every aspect of their operation and many will re-emerge from a quasi- state of hibernation to be far more efficient, effective, firms. However, what you sometimes see is a reluctance to ditch legacy systems, which are often a whole host of band aid solutions. Many salespeople will tell you that they make money in spite of their CRM system, and many will tell you that it adds little value to them. This can feed management reluctance, where change can involve significant capital investment and so the temptation to make short term savings can sometimes be too seductive. However, over the long term these changes can put firms on a faster growth curve than their competitors. If I remember one thing from the financial crisis, it was the firms that made big bets when things looked grim who grew much faster when the crisis dissipated.

For many firms, they have a sort of love/hate relationship. The see everything their system can’t do, they build around it, but they stick with it like an old comfort blanket, but it’s familiar and everyone knows how to use the useless thing they’ve created. It’s a strange logic, but one I suspect we’re all familiar with. In an article on Salesforce’s website they list the following as being key benefits of a good CRM solution:

  1. CRM - marketingThey help you find the right customers
  2. You can build more sustainable relationships
  3. They reduce the cost of sales
  4. They increase employee productivity
  5. They allow you to offer better customer service
  6. They improve customer retention

I’d go further and say they also give managers greater visibility over the performance of the business and insight into a salesperson’s effectiveness. I’d also add a line to the top saying a good CRM system “makes you more money”. It’s not a bad North Star to navigate towards. Indeed, in an article in the Harvard Business Review they came up with the following suggestions for a CRM solution to increase revenue:

  1. Re-think your CRM system as a tool to increase revenue
  2. Integrate your marketing efforts with sales activity
  3. Managers provide coaching to improve, not reporting to inspect

I couldn’t agree more on integrating marketing and sales. These teams now need to work closer than ever with marketing providing quality leads, and sales providing information gathered from the field. An increasing shift towards digital should make this process easier to track, adapt, and trial so that campaigns can rapidly shift and zone-in on success. Having a CRM system that supports this and enables the two teams to work off the same data helps this process enormously.

Whilst there will always be nervousness around change and investment at a time of great uncertainty, it is arguably now that leaders will get the most buy-in from teams who appreciate that the world has changed and that their firm needs to adapt at pace.

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