In my experience most sales directors are battling and failing to come to grips with the concept of CRM (customer relationship management) and how to make it work properly.
They either don’t have a CRM strategy or have a half-baked one that is tottering along.
There are many reasons why CRM isn’t working for sales-driven companies.
But, I’m only going to unpack one.
Starting any customer journey with software is one of the main reasons for CRM meltdown.
This is how the scenario usually plays out. A slick salesperson sells you a piece of software that promises exceptional relationships with prospective and existing customers. It also promises to manage your sales pipeline so that you can forecast accurately. And, of course it promises to increase your sales.
Yes, field-tested software can do all of that and more. But, starting your customer relations management journey by purchasing software first is not the route to go.
This is what you’ll find if you go the software route first:
- Your sales people don’t use the system properly because there’s no buy in from them
- They don’t consistently use it and you have to put in measures to “force” them to use it
- The goal is not clear i.e. why are we doing this?
- There is no clear mapped out system to engage prospects and customers
Of course, then what happens is that we scrap the system and try another one or we go back to old faithful, Excel.
What to do?
Software should be the last consideration for customer relationship management. It is the delivery vehicle for your customer relationship philosophy.
For CRM to work, a company first has to have a strong ethos and appetite for building relationships with customers. If this is in place then half the battle is won.
Here are some considerations for your customer relationship management success:
- Ask yourself and your sales staff “why” should we be customer focused
- Get your sales staff involved in the CRM strategy so that you can get their buy in
- You have to sell CRM to your sales staff. Give them enough reasons why it is beneficial to them to use a CRM system (they’ll make more money is probably a good place to start)
- Map out a process from lead generation to lead conversion and upsell/cross-sell opportunities further downstream
- Map out a communication strategy for prospective, new and existing customers (what are we going to say to them and who is going to send out the communication)
- Test-drive a couple of customer relationship management software options before adopting one.
If you want to drive exceptional sales growth through customer relationship management then start with a customer relationship management philosophy, develop a sustainable strategy, get buy in from your sales staff and only then, go shopping for software.