How to get the most from your CRM

Feb 18, 2015 11:01:02 AM

CRM Lead Generation Leads Marketing automation sales Sales and Marketing

The CRM has become the central data hub for many companies over the last decade or so and it is completely understandable as to why. A well-managed CRM can be critical to the growth of business, it can promote a sales team to hit targets and set records. Fundamentally, it can shape the entire way a business works.

So why is it, that since ACT! first appeared in 1986, or Siebel Sales Enterprise Software in 1995 (now a part of Oracle), are many companies still struggling to get the most from their CRM or SFA system?

441df2078dfa3e69399443231a550368 - How to get the most from your CRM

Expectation to deliver

Something that we hear a lot is “we expect our CRM to deliver x, y or z”. There is a massive weight of expectation around bringing on board a CRM solution. To each department it becomes the dream solution that will solve so many problems. However, it is also this weight of expectation that leads to disappointment.

The solution is to start out small. Make sure you fully understand the basics, what is a required field or option, and what isn’t. You could begin by allowing access to just a select few in order to control the flow of feedback and allow for a smoother integration.


Even in this digitally driven business age, there is a genuine fear of relying on technology too much. This fear doesn’t stem from the days of not being able to set the clock on your VCR, but rather the concern that you will need a vast amount of technical support from outside agencies to implement fully.

It is true that we are becoming more reliant on technology and to ensure that we are getting the best from any system requires a level of support – no  different to IT, a website or your car.

As with most things; you need to do your homework. Understand where this relationship will sit. Will you need to bring in external support or is there existing infrastructure that can support the system?

Don’t be afraid to look at a training package or bring the skills required in-house. A great example of this is Salesforce who offer a huge range of training and certification packages. In addition to this, there are numerous companies and consultants that can support any integration.

Will everyone be able to use it?

Learning a new piece of software or system can be quite daunting for many, especially for those who aren’t exposed to technology all of the time.

As with “Technophobia”, take the time to conduct training sessions with these members of staff and to understand where they are struggling. Deliver appropriate training because it can only reward both the staff and the company.

Over complication

It is all too easy to do. Once all the senior stakeholders have had their input, you can end up with so many required fields that you would rather be filling out a car insurance quote form…

Just keep it simple and remember this has to be used efficiently – if  the sales team become disillusioned with it, the data quality will suffer.

Who is it for?

Ask this question and ask it a lot until you come up with an honest answer. Is this going to be a tool for management to analyse performance and create amazing reports, or is it a tool to increase sales?

If it is primarily the former, then you may have missed the point of what a CRM can actually bring to the table. If it is the latter of the two, then you are most likely heading in the right direction. That said, somewhere between the two is the sweet spot as a good CRM should provide clarity up and down the company structure.

Appoint a champion

Someone needs to be accountable for the CRM who  has a vested interest in ensuring the data is as accurate as possible. They need to be responsible for understanding and ensuring that all procedures are in place and adhered to and ensure there are no duplicated data records etc. They will become the centralised point for all problems, queries, feedback and feature requests.

Ultimately, regardless of which CRM you bring into your organisation, you need to take responsibility for it and introduce it properly to the relevant parties. Don’t let ambition outweigh the skill set required. Phase it in with predefined strategy and if you need to bring in a consultant then don’t be afraid to do so. A properly set up and managed CRM will more than pay for itself and the associated costs.

Image Credit:
Social CRM: Sean MacEntee

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