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 information 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 are just now shopping for CRM software, or already have a system in place, you can and should take various steps to ensure you get the most 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 percent, 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 your information technology department describe the software’s features and how they might help. As the saying goes, show — do not 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 also could 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 verify they have 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 does not happen overnight.
So, if you have a CRM solution in place, do not give up on its potential. In addition, if you are 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.