Implementing the Appropriate Customer Relationship Management System

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The need for Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions has never been higher as businesses fight to attract and retain clients in an era when loyalty is transient at best. With so many options, companies that wish to maximize their sales and marketing efforts, fortify their personnel, and use the most effective tools must select customer relationship management (CRM) software. The question is, which one should you pick?

With the correct customer relationship management system, a company may boost its profile and leapfrog its rivals. It’s possible that making a wrong decision will set them back thousands of dollars and cause them to give up the ground they’ve worked hard to gain.

It may sound counterintuitive, but the “right company” is more important than the “right software” for a successful CRM deployment. In reality, the company’s evaluation and use of the system are more important than the program itself by a factor of 80:20 for successful adoption and a good ROI (Return on Investment).

Let’s use an automobile and its driver as examples to show what I mean. Getting from point “A” to point “B” in an automobile depends on the driver more than on the car itself. However, your level of satisfaction while behind the wheel and the length of time until you decide to upgrade will be directly proportional to the vehicle you choose.

It would not be brilliant to buy a vehicle without first thinking about how many miles you put on it annually, the conditions under which you often drive, the ratio of the city to highway moving you undertake, and the required amenities.

The same holds while searching for a customer relationship management system. When you look for “CRM Software” online, you’ll find dozens of organizations, all of which will tell you how great their software is.

Your next move should be to evaluate each product’s features and then set up a meeting with the sales teams for the products that have been cut. Even though it may seem like the next obvious step, you shouldn’t waste your time doing that.

Your customer relationship management software should be established before you begin your search. How do clients and salespeople communicate with one another? How do you keep track of potential customers? How can you win over new clients while keeping your current ones happy? How to handle lengthy sales cycles and project timelines. How to keep the sales funnel full. The responses to these and other questions will inform your CRM solution’s feature set.

Needs Analysis and Feature Development

Investing in a customer relationship management (CRM) system can significantly impact your bottom line, but only if the method you select covers most of your requirements. A centralized database that houses all of an organization’s customer data in one place and allows for the easy sharing of client notes, history, and email may be all needed for certain businesses. Since many companies are only starting with a system, thorough research isn’t necessary.

Companies with broader objectives, such as improved lead generation, sales pipeline management, and partial sales workflow automation, have more work to do before they can begin reviewing CRM solutions.

Decide first if you need a little automobile to get around town on the way to and from work and school or if you’ll need a larger vehicle to satisfy your current and future family’s cargo space and passenger capacity needs.

Methods for Initial Judgment

Start by asking if any HR staff members have participated in a CRM selection process. There’s no substitute for learning from someone who has “been there, done that” and is familiar with the ins and outs of your organization.

It’s always a good idea to team up with an experienced CRM consulting firm that has no vested interest in pushing a specific CRM system but does have experience with businesses like yours. This guarantees that the solutions proposed are objective.

Conducting a Competency Assessment

If the company doesn’t train its employees to use CRM effectively, even the best solution in the world won’t help. Anyone can hop in a racecar, but finishing in the top spots takes an excellent driver.

A disastrous deployment is more likely if a company has needs beyond simple contact management and doesn’t take the time to evaluate the proficiency of its employees.

While it’s true that customization and fine-tuning can help reduce complexity, you shouldn’t lose sight of the ultimate goal: a system that works as intended and enables you to achieve your aims.

While the software vendor’s training will help your salesmen and customer service representatives use the program effectively, they will still require some familiarity with computers and the Internet.

Before signing a contract and accepting delivery of a CRM solution, it is best practice to have all relevant parties thoroughly evaluate the product. This method not only ensures that everyone on staff is okay with switching to a formal CRM system, but it also does a great job of getting them emotionally on board by giving them a stake in the outcome of the transition and providing them with information about how the new system will improve their efficiency and, ultimately, the company’s bottom line.

Finally, when a business eventually pulls useful reports from a CRM system, it will see the effects of having users with the correct abilities enter the data.

Setting a Price for CRM

Here comes the $649,000 question: how much money should you invest in a customer relationship management system? To get the best possible solution for your business, you should spend no more than necessary on it.

Unfortunately, no CRM vendor can guarantee that their CRM solution will be worthwhile to any individual customer. It’s possible to spend as much money as you want on a system and not benefit. I once sold an approach to a small business (with five users) for close to $3,000, and that included everything from hardware and software to setup and training. The client’s first step was to launch an email marketing campaign targeting previous buyers who quickly placed orders totaling over $7,500. That’s a respectable return on investment for a system that costs less than $3,000.

After receiving training and familiarizing himself with the system’s features, the CEO of that business soon began generating reports and keeping tabs on his company’s new leads, follow-ups, and sales pipeline. Tips were no longer slipping through the gaps, and customer follow-up improved drastically within a month. In other words, after the first month, the system had already more than paid for itself.

In contrast, I’ve seen businesses spend tens of thousands of dollars on CRM projects without setting measurable goals or developing a system for measuring return on investment. They may be left wondering why they bothered with CRM technology, given that all it amounts to is a massive “electronic Rolodex.”

Following the advice and guidelines in this article will put your business on the right track when installing a customer relationship management solution.

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Syed Ali is the company’s leading customer relationship management consultant at CyberQuest Solutions Inc. in Toronto. He has worked with over 300 businesses in Canada and the United States, all searching for a customer relationship management solution. Syed has an extensive Business Analysis and Systems Integrations history and a master’s degree in IT. CyberQuest Solutions, his firm, provides customer relationship management (CRM) options from GoldMine, ACT!, and Online CRM Software. You can reach Syed at (905) 815-1995 extension 22, via email at asyed@cqsolutions.com, or his website.

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