The love-hate relationship with CRM is real. While widely available, CRM solutions often fail to deliver on the promises they made during their selection and implementation process, and they can miss the potential for profitable growth.

Horror stories abound – from overly complex implementations to poorly planned solutions: “Just let the sales team put their stuff in”.

If you want to get more out of your CRM investment, whether through improved adoption or more robust usage, these two questions can be asked to pave the way.

1. Is it easy for users to get information from the CRM solution?

The focus of a CRM is often on ensuring that accurate data is uploaded and captured. However, the CRM shouldn’t serve as a place where data dies. The goal is to store readily available information that will help serve customers and make business decisions.

Reporting information across all user levels is the most important role a CRM solution plays in a company.

Marketing may need to know where leads and prospects are in the sales funnel so it can assist sales by sending the right messages, or the sales team may need to view customer interaction status from other departments, or the executive team may need to accurately forecast sales for financial and planning purposes. In all of these scenarios it is important that every department has timely access to customer, opportunity and sales information in CRM.

Understanding how the data is collected is only half of the equation, however: the other half communicates how the information will be used to better serve the customer and help the business. Those users, armed with the knowledge and understanding of how information gathered from customers and businesses (gained or lost) is used across the enterprise, tend to view a CRM solution as a “carrot” that is business growth promotes, rather than a “whip”. exercised in relation to odds or missed opportunities.

Therefore, assessing which reports each group of users will need to make decisions, and how easily those reports are accessible, is the first key to improving a new or installed CRM solution.

2. Does the CRM support your sales process or have you alternatively adapted your sales process to the requirements of the CRM?

A well-planned CRM solution should be a guide for the entire sales cycle: as more information is gathered and the relationship is built, the sales team should promote the lead, prospect or customer step by step down the sales path in tandem with the CRM solution.

Unfortunately, however, many implementations merely serve as a repository for contact information with a “forecast” of the attached deals and dates. Hence, these implementations are less valuable in making business decisions and are used more as a “stick” in the metaphor above.

Every business has its own sales process – steps that guide a prospect through initial contact, quotation, sales order, and delivery. Many companies have a different sales process for each product they sell, a customer base and a sales cycle they face in the marketplace.

A well-planned CRM solution can support one or more sales processes, but first these processes need to be mapped. If you haven’t taken the time and effort to train your team on the sales process or customer journey – or worse, you haven’t taken the time to map that process or journey – you can’t rely on yours Leaving a CRM solution to deliver on the promise or potential that it offers.

An easy way to start the mapping process is to assemble a representative group from the sales team and ask what happens when they get a lead. Document the answers (for both the positive and negative pathways) and keep asking “What happens next?” until you have arrived at the delivery of your product or service to a satisfied customer.

Through this interactive process, you will find out which data is required by the customer in every sales interaction in order to get to the next step. For example, do you need to gather information about a customer’s current environment before you can make a quote, estimate, or suggestion for your product or service?

It should also be clear at what points in the process additional information and reports will become available and required for the company to provide services to the customer or make other business decisions.

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Why don’t CRM solutions keep their promises and miss their potential to grow our business profitably? Why do we have such an intense love-hate relationship with our CRM solution?

If the solution doesn’t match your company’s actual sales process, it can be cumbersome to use. Rather than just focusing on what information needs to be included in the CRM solution, consider what information users need from the CRM system and whether they can easily access it.