How to develop a CRM Strategy for your business
CRM or Customer Relationship Management isn’t anything new, in fact we started using the term back in the 1990s and it has since been adopted to describe a broad range of IT business systems. Yet, with the growth in Cloud technology, a CRM system is the latest must-have shiny thing.
Surely, any self-respecting business owner knows that to succeed they’ll need a CRM system? Though, too often we see companies keen to embrace the technology at the expense of strategy. If you are looking to implement a CRM system you first need to consider your CRM strategy and the implications this will have on your overall business strategy.
What is Strategy?
So, let’s go back to basics and remind ourselves of what is strategy. Strategy was originally a military term describing a plan of action to achieve an objective, for example, win a battle. The strategy plan laid out what actions and tactics were needed to defeat the enemy. The same applies to business strategy, it’s about planning a course of action to realise our goals and objectives.
A CRM strategy, therefore, firstly needs to look further than the IT tool and consider a holistic approach to customer relationship management. It needs to be aligned with the company’s vision and goals, putting the customer at the forefront of consideration. Consequently, the organisation needs to ready itself to adopt this customer-centric approach.
CRM strategy needs to be embedded into the company culture and recognised across the whole organisation, with an outside-in methodology.
The decision to embark upon a CRM system generally results from of a business trigger, a need for change. This might be a new contract that requires greater efficiency or maybe you have reached a “pain-point” where you know something different needs to happen moving forward. For example, the business growing to a certain size, or a desire to do email marketing which needs a clean database. Research carried out by the CRM software review company, Software Advice, in their CRM Software Small Business Buyer Report 2016 shows the top pain-point to be organisation efficiency.
Knowing your Enemy
Understanding the challenges faced in managing your customers will help develop your CRM strategy. Consider all your business processes, from end to end, to look at your customer touch-points and what problems you face. Do your sales people have the information they need to effectively respond to a customer request? Are there time-consuming routine tasks that might be automated? Are you missing sales by not anticipating a repeat purchase? Does your management have a clear overview of the sales pipeline?
Recognising these blocks and knowing what you are looking to achieve means you can start to plan your strategy to realise your goal.
Preparing your Army
Knowing what you what to achieve from your CRM system is still just part of the battle. Time and time again, a move towards CRM ends in failure due to poor implementation and user adoption. CRM needs to be integrated into the company culture to the point where everyone would struggle to do without it. But at first there may be resistance.
Sales people are often the trickiest to convince. They will feel they can sell just fine without an IT system and might see the technology as another way to monitor their performance. You’ll need to consider the WIIFM factor (what’s in it for me?) for all your stakeholders. So, for sales people this might be visibility of their earned commission.
Successful implementation requires staff buy-in from the top down, so make sure your senior managers are seen using the CRM. Get them using CRM reports and forecasts in meetings and presentations so your team can see the importance to your business. And recruit CRM champions who can help implement the system in each department.
Guns and Ammunition
The market for CRM systems is extremely competitive and there are hundreds to choose from. So how do you choose? Once again it’s a case of looking at what you want to achieve and what you need to get there. It might be tempting to go for a system that has lots of complex features and functionality but you’ll need to ask yourself whether you will realistically use these. Too often CRM failure is due to the system being so overly complicated that staff are put off from using it.
At Really Simple Systems CRM, customers often come to us looking to replace their CRM armoured battleship with something simpler, and cheaper! They don’t use half of the functionality they are paying for and their staff struggle with the complexity.
The temptation is to put technology before strategy, yet unless people are using the CRM system properly you will never achieve the objectives. By keeping it simple you stand a good chance of a successful implementation.
Cloud CRM is a benefit here as you can start with the basics and then just upgrade as you need more features. You’re not committed to it for more than your subscription period so if your business needs something different you can easily change. Ideally you want to be working towards both short term and long term objectives within your CRM strategy.
When you set out your CRM strategy keep a record of what your business looks like before you start. Take measurements of your productivity and set it as a benchmark. You’ll then be able to monitor the effectiveness of the CRM and your success.
Set yourself SMART targets (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, timely) so you know when you have achieved your goals.
And remember, there’s no rule that says plans cannot be changed. Keep measuring, analysing and reviewing what you do and be prepared to adapt your plans along the way. As the CRM becomes part of your company culture you’ll find new ways to use the data and system to keep improving.
If you need help in choosing a CRM system read our white paper 10 Critical Factors in Choosing a CRM System.