CRM and Your Organisation
At its most basic, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is a system for managing your sales and marketing.
By system – we mean your team, working with the software tools to manage customer records, sales quotations and marketing campaigns. Note that “CRM” is not just the software system – it is the entire process.
Of course, CRM can help you do much more than simply manage a sales pipeline – our clients run membership organisations, manage cases, keep records of IT inventory, run events – the list goes on!
Our Approach to CRM
Firstly – do you already have “a CRM” or are you a new adopter? If you’ve already invested in a CRM solution and it’s not working for you then we like to start with looking at You and Your Business – there are probably hundreds or even thousands of businesses using the CRM you have – they can’t all be struggling – so maybe the problem lies in your business or the way your people use the system? Sorry – harsh reality there! But with a bit of reconfiguration and user training – maybe that system can be made to work for you?
New adopter? Again – we need to start with you (and your business). Why do you (think you) want or need a CRM? What (and who) is driving the decisions? What are the outcomes you want for your business? Do you already have robust business processes that just need to be digitised – or are you all running round like headless chickens? We need to understand how you and your team work in order to be able to suggest the best plan of action.
10 things to consider when thinking about CRM
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems have been around for many years and have mainly been adopted by larger businesses. But many small or even micro- businesses (and third sector organisations) could benefit. So what do you need to consider? Set your own goals before you start – what will a successful CRM implementation look like in your business? Download this article to keep
Are you on your own or do you work with a team (this may be a team of associates in other organisations)? Then CRM could be the vital system linking you together with all relevant client information and making it consistent and accessible. If you work on your own, then CRM makes it easy to keep yourself organised!
Are you a traditional office-based business or is everyone highly mobile, working from anywhere? Make sure you think about “where” your CRM needs to be; on a server in your office, in the cloud, accessible via phones and tablets etc.. Consider whether you have access to high-speed broadband before opting for a cloud-based solution. (You should be able to trial a system before signing up).
Why do you want CRM? Not a daft question – but think about what benefits you are looking for; will it save you time, help you close more deals, become more productive? Not just because your competitor has it! See above – what are your business goals? Decide how to measure return on investment, and get crystal clear on how the value will be delivered in your business.
CRM is often seen as a “Sales” tool (although there are many other ways to use it). Do you have a Sales team? No – not shiny guys in suits driving flash cars – your sales team may be anyone in your organisation who has contact with customers and prospects – how can they influence a sale? Make sure all interactions are recorded, and make it easy for your employees to give great service. Have standard templates for *everything* and make sure people use them.
Remember CRM is much more than a “glorified address book”. Take the time to think about all the other attributes of a customer that matter to you – industry sector, turnover, etc – and record them in your CRM. Now you have a marketing database that you can use for email marketing (much more effectively than the newsletter list to 5000 generic contacts), telemarketing or direct mail.
Ok so you have acquired a customer – how do you keep them? Use your CRM to keep in touch with existing customers by delivering information or handy hints, and use it to track customer service issues to make sure the customer is kept happy.
Are you prepared to invest in training? It’s scary how much time (and therefore money) you can waste when users don’t know what they’re doing. Scrimping on training is a Bad Idea and will cost you money in the long run. Set aside time and budget to ensure all users are working effectively and that you are getting a return on your investment.
8. THIRD SECTOR
If you are a charity or a social enterprise, then there are still reasons to use CRM – it might be recording donor information or tracking members of your organisation? There are lots of ways to use CRM in a third sector organisation.
Do not underestimate the amount of time it will take to set your system up properly, and the time you will need to spend keeping the system up to date – that is not to say that it should rule your life, or become a burden on the business – but if you spend a little time each day checking off tasks, and updating phone numbers when you need to then it will pay dividends in the long run.
A 7 step Sales Process
We like to start with process – and a sales process workshop is a great introduction to how CRM can be made to work for you. Your organisation’s process may have more – or less – than 7 steps – and you probably have different naming conventions – that’s cool, this is just a suggestion!
This guide is not going to drill down into the “hows” of each stage but is about process – getting yourself into the habit of following the same steps every time you engage with a new prospect – and recording the information at each stage. You may have different names for each stage – but the basic flow should be the same in your business.
1. INITIAL CONTACT
How do you find your leads and prospects – how do they find you? Do they call or email you? Make an enquiry on your website? Social media? In all cases- make sure you record their details somewhere – and where they came from (and the date)– that information will be useful when you are planning your marketing. Or – you might contact them, perhaps through tele-marketing? Not continuing? Make a note (and why) – maybe it’s a Not Now – can you add them to your mailing list?
So they have contacted you – now you need to find out more about them and determine if your products or services are a good fit for them. Don’t miss out this stage and launch into full-blown sales ninja mode – it’s important to recognise when there is little chance of an opportunity ending up in a sale – your time is better spent elsewhere. They may be a private customer when you only do B2B, or it might be a sector that you have no experience in, or they may not have the budget (that’s a whole other blog in itself!). It’s also useful to try and work out how serious they are about working with you – let’s try to avoid the tyre-kickers. Make notes and again take note of the date.
3. NEEDS ANALYSIS
Now you need to really drill into their requirements. Have a set of standard questions ready so that you don’t miss anything. It can also make you look professional and help the prospect build their confidence in you. Nail down their reasons why they think you can help them. Avoid offering any solutions at this point. Use your ears at this stage. In your head you are likely now thinking about how your offering can help the prospect – but again you might find at this stage that you are not the right person to be helping them. However, you might find it’s a great opportunity for someone in your network – and you can refer the prospect on to them.
This is the stage at which you get to talk! This is your chance to demonstrate to the client (and that might be an actual product demonstration!) how your product / service would benefit them. Do always bear in mind that you should not give away all your secrets at this stage – you need to do enough to build trust though. Be prepared to make changes to your assessment of their needs – you can often find that points emerge that you may not have captured during the previous stage.
The quote or proposal or estimate. Whatever you call it. If you send out a document then make sure it is saved somewhere so you can refer back to it and amend it if necessary. Depending on your business it might also become the invoice. Make a note of when you sent it. What are you going to do next? When are you going to follow up?
Again – I’m not going to go into the “how” of negotiation! This is the stage where you may have to adjust your proposal in the light of the prospect’s needs or wishes. You might have given a couple of alternatives in the proposal – now is the time to nail down which option the prospect is going to take and ensure that they understand the differences and what it will mean for them. This will also be the time to get contracts or agreements ready, and make sure the client (hopefully) understands things like service levels, payment terms and things like delivery lead times and cancellation policies. Do not expose yourself to the risk of delivering your service, sending an invoice and then having a row over credit terms. If you need a Purchase Order from them so you can put the number on the invoice then now is the time to get that! You should not really lose too many at this stage but **** happens and people can drop out at this stage – sometimes a key individual leaves the organisation or for some reason they don’t have the budget, but hopefully they will turn into a “not now” not a no. Keep them on file and ask if you can follow up. You may also do a credit check at this point – and you may decide YOU don’t want to continue the relationship.
7. CLOSE SALE/DELIVER
And now they are a client! Now you can deliver your products or services – make a note of the final close date.
And don’t forget, depending on what you do you might start again at stage 4,5 or 6 with a different / new product for the same customer.
At every stage make a note – if they drop out then make sure you try to find out why – and, if appropriate make a note of when it might be the right time to make contact
Why record dates? So you can start to see how long it takes to close a sale. You can then start to understand how your sales process affects cashflow.
Make a note of how many drop out at each stage – then you will know a) how many you need to get into your pipeline at the beginning of the process. You can also identify at what stage prospects are dropping out. Why is that? What does that tell you about your qualification process?