Previous articles in this series described how sales managers and sales reps can increase productivity, lower costs, and save time with CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software -- enhanced with mapping solutions, or alone. In review, with CRM you can:
- Manage sales territories more efficiently.
- Know what sales reps are doing and manage them for more productive calls.
- Focus on customer attraction/retention/satisfaction with mobile and social technologies.
- Combined with mapping (which turns mere data into business intelligence), make more productive calls per day or trip, lowering the cost of each sales call.
- View markets, customers, prospects, competition, dealers, and competition more effectively than wading through spreadsheets.
Understanding and valuing these and many more CRM benefits, you are now ready to select a CRM solution that best meets your sales-management needs.
Before Selecting a CRM System, Know Your Business Operations as a Whole
Before selecting a CRM system, you need to understand that automation in and of itself, will not fix an inefficient sales process that you want to improve. Therefore, have someone at your company look at your business operations as a whole. Or hire an outside expert. Even better, find a CRM vendor who will take the time to fully understand your processes and your needs and get all team players involved right from the start. This will assure that your CRM system will yield the results you that want. [a]
The importance of knowing your business is revealed by the fact that the main reason for CRM failures and disappointments is that companies thoughtlessly get into a CRM solution and misunderstand the expected results. Disdain for CRM is not the fault of the CRM solution itself.
Once you know your marketing, sales, and customer-relations processes, you are ready to talk with a CRM vendor.
Questions to Ask a CRM Provider
Whether you will be a first-time CRM user or you are a current CRM user looking for help with a disappointing CRM, here are ten questions to ask a CRM provider:
- Will the CRM solution help to acquire and keep customers, as well as grow overall company revenue?
- Will the CRM solution accommodate rising customer expectations and improve customer satisfaction?
- Will the CRM solution bring together multichannel customer interactions, such as E-commerce and website searches?
- Will the CRM solution help to better manage fragmented customer interactions processes, such as onboarding, order administration, loan processing, and customer service?
- Will the CRM solution include social channels to support customer engagement for market research, communications, customer self-service, and product development?
- Will the CRM solution make use of big data from social media and other sources?
- Will the CRM solution allow flexibility for CRM software-as-a-service?
- Will the CRM solution coordinate customer feedback so that all employees understand customer expectations in terms of how their decisions affect business?
- Will the CRM provider offer mobile solutions for smart phones and tablets that improve employee productivity?
- Will the CRM provider: Take the time to-fully understand your needs? Get all of your users onboard? Train all your users? Offer value-added products to enhance your CRM system for your future needs? Select a vendor who will start you right and will be there as you grow. [a]
Sales managers and sales reps can increase productivity, lower costs, and save time with CRM software. Before selecting a CRM system, however, you need to understand that automation itself, will not fix an inefficient sales process that you want to improve. Therefore, you must first thoroughly know your business operation as a whole. Once you understand your marketing, sales, and customer-relations processes, you are ready to talk with a CRM vendor. Ten questions to ask a CRM provider will help assure that your choice of a CRM solution and CRM provider will bring you expected results: increased productivity, with lower costs and in less time.
Bob Sullivan is president of InfoGrow Corporation. Bringing 24 successful years of experience in CRM, mapping, lead management, business intelligence, and B2B market analytics, InfoGrow helps clients identify their best prospects, discover missed opportunities, focus reps on the most profitable accounts, and reduce marketing waste. Contact Bob at 800-897-9807, x224.