What’s the Point of Implementing CRM Software?

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What’s the Point of Implementing CRM Software?

Don’t just buy CRM Software; Implement it!

If you put 10 CRM consultants in one room, you might get 10 different answers.   But I like to cut to the chase – the point of implementing CRM software has to be one of the following:

    -Increasing sales
    -Decreasing Costs
    -Improving your customer service (and the point of that is to increase sales)
    -Increasing the efficiency of your team (and the point of that is to decrease costs)

Many times when discussing the point of all this, we discuss all kinds of other things like giving you a 360 degree of your customer, or improving the customer journey, or putting customer information at your fingertips.   But really what’s the point of all that?

Now, when we say “increasing sales”, we don’t actually mean that the software is going to increase your sales.   That’s why the question was about “implementing” CRM Software and not “buying” CRM software.   If CRM software by itself could increase sales, then all you’d have to do would be to buy it.  And then, voila (!), sales would grow.    If only….

When we talk about the implementation of CRM software increasing sales, what we really mean is that if implemented properly, CRM software will allow your staff to be more effective at their jobs and be able to sell more.

Notice the words “if implemented properly”.   If not “implemented properly”, CRM software will likely not help your staff be more efficient and will likely not contribute to increasing sales.   What are some examples of not implementing CRM Software properly?

  • Buying the software with no implementation assistance from an expert.
  • Expecting your salespeople and your internal staff to figure out themselves the best way to setup the software.
  • Not investing in at least a half day of training per user of the software. Yes – this means if you have 10 CRM users, you should budget 40 hours of training over the first year.
  • Not involving the users in the CRM purchase decision before you buy.
  • Buying the software and running it on an island. Not integrating it with any other parts of the business.
  • Being unclear about why you’re implementing the software.
  • Not having a champion in the organization (someone on staff who loves the software and the idea of the software). PS – if you have a champion, and then the champion leaves the organization, you better replace him or her with another champion or else the software will likely fail within six to 12 months.
  • Thinking CRM Software is like any other “app” and can just be downloaded and run like a banking app on your phone. Hint – it isn’t.

DIY CRM Software Implementations usually result in DIY CRM Software Failures.  There are legions of them.   When this happens, we usually hear things like:

  • The software was too hard to use.
  • The software wasn’t intuitive.
  • You have to be a programmer to setup the software.
  • I couldn’t get my people to use the software.
  • The software didn’t meet our needs.

While some or all of these things could be true, it’s more likely that the software just wasn’t implemented properly or wasn’t “implemented” at all.

How does properly implementing CRM Software look?   Unfortunately, it’s a little harder and usually takes more time and more of an investment.   Classic CRM success stories of increased sales usually involve some or all of the following:

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  • Upper management of the organization mandates the use of the software with consequences if it’s not used.
  • CRM Software is configured to actually help the salesperson effectively prospect and close deals.
  • An acknowledgement that there will be some trial and error involved in the beginning to get things setup exactly right. Have you ever done a kitchen remodel?   Does it always end up exactly the way you drew it up?   Or, midway through, do you sometimes rethink colors and appliances and accessories, etc.?   Hopefully you don’t have to redo a wall, but that happens too, right?   Implementing CRM Software is similar.   You start out with a plan, and then evolve as needs arise.
  • A LOT of user training. Not just one training session and goodbye.   Usually one training session followed up by additional follow up training sessions over a few months.
  • Integration with other key business applications. If one of your key objectives is making your salespeople more efficient so they can sell more, why wouldn’t you integrate customer sales data (from ERP software) or phone systems (so phone call logging is easier) or other systems?  This is one of the most overlooked area of CRM software purchases.   Organizations think they can buy CRM software and have it live on an island.   It can, but then it has difficulty achieving the point – increasing sales or decreasing costs.

When people tell me they can’t afford CRM Software or they can’t afford the implementation costs related to CRM software, I wonder how they can run their business without it?    I mean…I know you can do it.   People did it for years before CRM software existed.   But the world is moving fast, customers expect their vendors and partners to be knowledgeable, informed, and fast.   If you can’t be knowledgeable, informed, and fast, they will go find someone else who is.   And, how can you be all those things without CRM Software?

The bottom line is this…if you want your bottom line to increase from the use of CRM Software, you need to not only “buy” the software, but you also have to “implement” the software.

We’ll save our discussion for how to use CRM software to decrease costs for another day.   For now, if the point of implementing CRM software is to increase sales, let’s consider not just buying the software and not just implementing the software, but implementing the software properly.