Every company needs to have CRM software, period. This might sound cliché but the fact of the matter is you do need a repository of all your contacts and their attributes. You need a mechanism to convert leads into opportunities, maintain a uniform service history, acquire and store information about your potential leads, and so on. While it is true that you do need CRM, this is one of the most misunderstood pieces of business software. CRM today is used by small, medium, and enterprise, all kinds of companies across all sorts of industries. But when an employee survey is done with the end-users of a CRM, more often than not it turns out to be unsatisfactory. In this article, we are going to discuss the key challenges that you might be seeing today and how to address those.
Do a thorough product evaluation
First and foremost, doing a good CRM product evaluation is of paramount importance. As they say, it is easy to solve the teething problems than building a full-fledged application on software that does not meet your needs. It soon becomes an unusable piece of software that your users don’t like nor is it budget-friendly to maintain. The advice is to note down your business requirements and religiously check if the software has out-of-the-box capabilities to meet your needs. You might want to try out some hands-on features and then come to a conclusion. Don’t make your purchase decision by merely watching a few marketing videos.
Driving user adoption is the key
User adoption is touted as the number one most important factor determining the failure of CRM software. The primary reason for this stems from the fact that your intended users seem to be alienated from the software because they were not involved from the very beginning of the process. They feel that it is “almost being pushed down their throat,” for lack of a better term. They do not see it as a part of their success but rather as an additional piece of documentation in the sales process and sales teams getting monitored. Identify power users from the very beginning and work with them closely during the implementation period. Try to make them feel responsible and accountable and instill a sense of ownership. Remember, the same people would be your flag bearers for the rest of the team. Discuss the benefits and provide multiple applications demos to slowly percolate the message. A pro tip is that, make sure the rest of the sales team be trained not by external trainers but by their own colleagues (power users) who understand the pain points.
Data is what makes CRM usable
However great your CRM software might be, please keep it in mind that garbage in only produces garbage out. Your data and not the look and feel of it, not the subscription price, not the business processes will make your CRM successful. The crux of your application is your data. It is everything. The more validated, verified, current, and actionable the data you have in your system, the more usable it becomes. Make sure that you have enough investments on the data side of things. It could be done in-house or you could hire some external agency that will flush out the necessary data but this is a necessary evil. Did we say less is more? Avoid overcrowding the application with unnecessary pieces of information. Remember, only then your users will be encouraged to use it on a daily basis, maintain it and over time you will get a treasure trove of a system with current and actionable data.
Business process v/s CRM features
Often times what happens is that your business process evolves over a period of time and becomes unmanageable. It may have developed via some mergers and acquisitions while responding to market needs, whims and fancy of the leaders, some specific procedures or policies followed by some groups, and so on. During the implementation of the CRM, work with the business leaders to understand what are the key elements and KPIs of the process that should go into the system and while doing this you should always start from the out-of-the-box features that the CRM software might have on offer. Because this will mean less configuration, a system easy to maintain, and something that the software would inherently support. Although this might sound a bit counterintuitive, always start from the CRM application and build on top of that as and when necessary. Use an incremental approach instead of big bang implementation.
CRM is not a cure-all
Last but not the least, remember that your CRM is not the answer to all your worries. It cannot be that all-in-one systematic solution for all your business challenges. Have a hard look and evaluate which of the features of your business processes should reside inside the CRM application v/s being integrated with third-party apps. The rule of thumb that you should be using is figuring out if you are trying to tackle a 5% problem or an 80% problem. Don’t break your head and the software to tackle each of the problems that require very complex logic and will make the system unusable. Your first and foremost objective is to make it user-friendly, so that your users start using the software, start entering data, start getting reports out of it, and so on. Once that objective is met, think of making it an inclusive one in terms of the remainder of the business processes.
To summarize, do a thorough product evaluation, make sure your users are engaged from the beginning of the implementation process, spend resources to clean up the data, use the UI provided by the CRM software as much as possible and strike a fine balance between in-system and offline processes. Based on experience, we are confident that if you implement these five best practices, you should be able to enjoy the fruits of the CRM application and be successful soon.