The days of the Rolodex are long gone. To connect with customers and prospects, many businesses now rely on customer relationship management (CRM) software. These solutions give users easy access to comprehensive information — including detailed notes on existing connections with targeted individuals and companies — that can enhance marketing efforts and boost sales.
CRM software also typically includes categorized lists of customers, prospects and other valuable contacts. It goes beyond the standard contact info to collect biographical data, track interactions over time and map connections. You and your employees can use it to prompt, craft and automate communications.
Whether you’re just now shopping for CRM software, or already have a system in place, you can and should take various steps to ensure you get max value out of this technological investment.
Keys to success
For starters, make a point of aligning CRM usage with your company’s overall strategic objectives. For example, if one of your goals is to grow revenue in a certain market by 20%, you could make developing customer/prospect profile reports on the CRM system a stated and measured objective.
As is often the case with technology solutions, some employees may be skeptical about the value of the software while others will be enthusiastic supporters. Encourage “CRM champions” to share their success stories from using the solution with others. This will be more convincing than having someone from IT describe the software’s features and how they might help. As the saying goes, show — don’t tell.
Training is another important factor in successfully implementing CRM software. Introduce (or reintroduce) your employees to the solution’s benefits by embedding CRM lessons in meetings or training sessions about other topics, such as billing or revenue building.
You may be able to rely on webinars produced by (or in association with) the software provider to train many employees. You could also offer “lunch and learn” sessions on topics such as how to best conduct customer interviews and input that information into the CRM system to enhance the relationship. If necessary, certain employees — particularly those in sales and marketing — should receive personalized one-on-one sessions with a trainer to ensure they’ve truly mastered the software.
It takes time
For many businesses, the introduction of CRM software means not only a transformation of how work is accomplished, but also a change in culture. Busting out of “information silos” and getting everyone to share customer insights and data doesn’t happen overnight.
So, if you have a CRM solution in place, don’t give up on its potential. And if you’re just implementing one now, exercise patience and diligence when training employees to use it. We can help you set a reasonable budget for technology purchases such as CRM software and measure your return on investment.