Make the Most of Your CRM By Avoiding These 7 Common Mistakes

January 8, 2020

Your relationships with your potential, current, past, and future customers are the foundation of your company’s success. How you engage with them along the buyer’s journey will form the relationships and loyalties you have over time, which ultimately influences your company’s success and bottom line.

Traditionally, customer relationship management (CRM) was driven exclusively by your sales team. A potential customer connected with your organization, and then a sales team member responded and worked hard to forge a relationship. Answered questions. Demoed products. Made call after call. Maybe even had a couple of meetings in person.

All the information exchanged during those engagements were likely stored somewhere between the sales person’s brain, his or her computer, notes on a desk, and maybe, eventually some type of sales system used by your organization.

Today, digital CRMs are changing the way companies do business. Gone are pen and paper tracking, contact lists stored on desks and computers, and lost emails and connections if a person is out sick or leaves your company.

A CRM handles all your contact information and related sales processes. It gives your team insight into where your customers are on their journey, who has communicated with them, what’s been communicated and how, and what’s needed next.

And while CRMs bring a lot of flexibility and scalability to your organization, your staff doesn’t always embrace them with open arms – and even those with the best intentions don’t always use the solutions to their full capacity.

Why? Well, because some CRMs can be difficult to use and it can be challenging to get your sales team to buy in to all the benefits. Here are 7 common mistakes organizations make when adopting a CRM system and why you should avoid these missteps so you can enjoy the full benefits for your organization:

1. Selecting a CRM off a sales pitch, not one that works for your business goals

If you’re in sales, marketing or organizational leadership, it’s likely you’re constantly targeted by ads and messaging about the next great CRM. Random emails show up in your inbox asking if you can take a call or if you have a few moments to watch a demo. If you’re frustrated by inefficiencies in your current sales processes, it’s easy to bite on all the flash and glamor.

This is a starting point for CRM failure. When evaluating a CRM, don’t just listen to what a vendor tells you it can do for you. Instead, think about what your company needs and ask if it can deliver.

  • Can the system be customized for your business needs?
  • Is it flexible and scalable?
  • Is it easy to use?
  • How will it make your existing sales processes stronger?
  • What is the key purpose of adopting a CRM?
  • Will you use it to drive sales?
  • How will the CRM handle leads?
  • What will you do with the data collected within your CRM?

Don’t just jump into a purchase off a sales pitch. Be sure to carefully evaluate your organizational and sales needs, and don’t hesitate to get the CRM vendor to carefully answer and explain all of your questions or concerns.

2. Selecting a CRM that's too difficult to use, so your team members won't adopt it

Your sales team is busy. CRMs should make their jobs easier. Need a standard email reply sent on an inquiry? Need a reminder to engage with a customer by phone or email to move them further along through your sales processes? Your CRM should make that easy.

Unfortunately, many CRMs are just difficult to use and some aren’t mobile friendly. Your sales team is always on the go. If they have to go to the office, or stop somewhere and pull out a laptop or log onto a computer to update information, that task is likely going to get pushed further down a priority list and eventually out of sight is out of mind.

Look for CRM options that are mobile friendly and enable your sales team, not discourage them. Many organizations never experience the full benefits of their CRM because the information needed never gets collected.

3. Not establishing system ownership

Even an easy-to-use CRM needs someone (or a team) of people to own and manage it. Are there updates? How do those updates affect your processes? Were new features added? Who reviews those and decides if they align with your business and sales goals?

Organizations often leave these important decisions up to their IT teams. While your IT team should be involved to make sure there are no technical issues or vulnerabilities that may put your organization at risk, they should not have sole ownership or responsibility because they do not have the same insight into your sales and marketing processes as other team members do.

Whoever you select as your CRM owner (and be sure to have backups with the same training) should fully understand your company and sales goals and objectives and be able to align the CRM to your processes.

4. Not aligning your CRM to your sales processes and buyer’s journey

If you’re an established company, you have sales processes that work. Your CRM should fine-tune those processes and automate as many as possible. Need an appointment reminder sent to your calendar? That’s an easy task for a CRM to do. Need to schedule a follow-up email or phone call? Your CRM should be able to handle that. Your CRM should be aligned with your business and sales processes, as well as all of the stages of your buyer’s journey. If you haven’t created a buyer’s journey or buyer’s personas for your sales processes, stop and plan that journey before implementing your CRM. Get started right out of the gate headed in the right direction.

5. Not training your team on how to use your CRM and not explaining how it makes workflows easier

Let’s say you’ve done due diligence in selecting your CRM. It’s easy to use and you’ve selected team owners. You’ve set it up and aligned it with your sales goals and business processes. You’ve even mapped your buyer’s journey and set up personas and related information into your CRM. Now it’s time to sit back and watch the magic happen, right?

Not so fast. Even the best established CRMs need team buy-in. That buy-in begins with education and training. You can’t just say watch this video or read this handout and get to work. You’ll need to invest time and resources in ensuring the people who use your CRM know how it works, and that they understand how it helps them do their jobs better.

Be sure to explain the benefits and efficiencies of your CRM. Show your team members how it makes their jobs easier and can speed up your sales processes and eliminate repetitive tasks. Once you get buy-in from key team members, make them ambassadors for your CRM. Have them help others and share knowledge about how it’s changing the way they handle and process sales. Sales people are often driven by that bottom line so be sure they understand how it can help them make more sales more quickly and possibly with less effort.

6. Not enough data, too much data, or bad data

While CRM failure can begin by not purchasing the right system, it can also happen because of data issues. CRMs can do wonderful things with data, but you need careful planning and execution to ensure that data is being inputted, handled, and used correctly.

If you set up your CRM and enable or require too many fields, your users may feel like it’s more burdensome to use than it is beneficial, so they won’t drop in your requirements. Or maybe your CRM allows individual users to change or rename fields. Before you know it you have six versions of Company Name, Business Name, Organization Name and on and on, and no one knows which field to use or what they mean.

CRMs can also fail because they have too much data. Need to send an email but see three email addresses for the same person? How do you know which one to use? Have to make a phone call, but you’re not sure if you’re speaking to Deb, Debbie, or Debra? You may not want to pick up the phone.

Send an email and it bounces back? Make a call and get a wrong number? Bad data can be just as harmful to your organization as too much data.

Be sure you’re collecting the right amount of data you need and that the fields are clear and easy to understand. Make sure your users can simply and easily input information needed and encourage your system owners to routinely review CRM data to keep it fresh and current.

7. Not integrating your CRM into other business systems

Even the best planned CRMs can fail if they’re not properly integrated into your existing sales processes. Here’s an example: Let’s say you’ve collected all the information you need about a potential customer. They’re ready to make a purchase. All their information is perfectly stored within your CRM. Now you need to complete an invoice and get the product ready to ship or implement. If the core information you need is stored in your CRM and it can’t integrate with your billing or shipping systems, then you’re going to further frustrate team members who will have to manually get that data out of your CRM and into other systems. Not only is it incredibly inefficient, it leaves lots of opportunities for potential errors and communication missteps.

Your CRM should integrate with your existing business systems, like your enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. These integrations can help you seamlessly move data along all of your business processes to happy customers, more sales, and a growing bottom line.

Benefits of CRMs

We just walked through some common missteps for CRM, but before we go, let’s look at some of the benefits.

  • CRMs help you manage complex business relationships in easy-to-use dashboards where you can quickly visualize data about your customers’ needs.
  • If you have a potential new customer, a CRM can help you quickly create quotes, track your engagements with that lead, plan for next steps, and follow you through closed deals.
  • Rate card integrations for your CRM mean you’ll never have to guess on a quote again and will always have quick access to the right data to make sure you don’t make pricing mistakes.
  • Sending emails with attachments or other marketing campaigns like newsletters? A good CRM helps you keep track of it all by carefully associating all related communications to your contacts.
  • See your commissions in real time. A CRM lets sales teams see their commission rates based on percentages of sale, percentage or margins and other configurations.

Are you ready to simplify and streamline your sales processes with a CRM? Register for an aACE webinar and learn how you can start automating your sales processes and begin making more sales today!

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