CRM is probably the most widely used and least well exploited type of technology in the B2B world. Misusing a CRM can have a very negative impact on the sales process. And yet, the value of CRM best practices is often underestimated.
In December of 2018, business authority Scott Edinger published an article about CRM failure in the Harvard Business Review. According to his experience, in 90% of cases, adopting a CRM fails to grow the company.
That number is as spectacular as it is unsurprising.
But the situation is not hopeless.
So let's make sure that the 91% of companies over 11 employees that use a CRM do so productively!
Here's what not to do.
The best thing you can do to improve and streamline your sales process is to get a CRM.
The worst thing you can do is not evaluating what you expect from it.
If you're doing it just because you heard it was a good way to improve sales, you're running straight into a wall.
All CRMs are different and have their own approach to sales. They're all designed for certain industries, company sizes, complexity of the products,...
You need to take that into account as well as your own specific needs.
Maybe a couple of Excel sheets will do the job. Or maybe you'll need Salesforce with 27 native integrations.
The only way to figure that out is to figure out your own needs.
The first thing you should worry about in a CRM, outside of the features, is whether your team is going to be able to work with it.
This isn't just a matter of CRM best practices. You need a tool that's user-friendly. In general and in your specific situation.
When you consider a platform, you need your salespeople to play around with it and see that it's a good fit.
Because if it's not, not only is it not going to improve your sales, but your team will hate using it. Also, they will resent you, because if the tool isn't for them, then it means it's only for your benefit.
That is not to say that CRMs aren't great to track your team, but if that's your only goal, it'll never work.
CRMs are great when it comes to streamlining your sales process.
Not your sales; your sales process. If you don't have a good process, you're going to be streamlining something that doesn't work.
Your buyer journey is the heart of your sales process. You need to map the whole thing, understand it, and control it before thinking of ways to streamlining it.
CRM is not about software, it's about customers. Only once you know how to approach your future customers can you optimize the technical aspects.
The good thing is that once you control your process, technology is on your side.
As soon as you have something that works, you can start scaling it through software.
But you need to make sure that those pieces of software fit together. Especially if you're using a sales automation platform like Prospect.io, Reply, Outreach, or Mailshake.
There's three ways you can do this.
This seems counterintuitive. But in some cases, the way a platform was built makes integrations unnecessary.
For example, in Rooftop's case, you've linked your email address to your account. This means that as soon as you get a response from a prospect, it'll land right in Rooftop. And that will automatically create a new contact.
And thanks to automated rules, if you use a specific address for cold emailing, you can direct responses straight to your pipeline.
Integration platforms are a real gamechanger.
Most SaaS products are at least integrated with Zapier. Because when you're integrated with Zapier, you can integrate with thousands of other platforms.
The actions you can perform are simple automations, but they're usually enough.
That being said, the real strength of integration platforms is the ability to combine the actions of more than 2 tools. The more complex your stack is, the more you'll have to rely on them.
Once the be-all and the end-all of SaaS, they've been declining for most dowmarket SaaS companies.
Yet they're still a big thing when it comes to integrating sales automation with, for example, Salesfore. When you're processing big amounts of important data, you want it to flow as smoothly as possible. And you don't want to rely on a third-party software when your setup is already complex.
It's great to have a tool that's going to structure your sales process.
It's also great to have a tool that's going to give you an overview of what's happening in your sales team.
But it ultimately will be useless if you don't track the right metrics. Because you won't know if it's working.
Bringing in a lot of leads is good, but only if those leads are qualified. Think about scoring your leads.
Closing a lot of deals is good, but only if those deals are worth the time you invest in them. Quantify your potential gains beforehand.
Your KPIs depend on your business. There's no one-size-fits-all set of KPIs. Take the time to define what matters, and track it.
Tracking relevant data is important.
Tracking only relevant data is crucial.
If you force yourself to strip down your KPIs, you'll realize that you don't need to track as much as you think you do.
Focus on KPIs that you can tie to your business goals. If you can't influence them directly, you should remove them.
This article by All KPIs contains great information about to prioritize KPI tracking.
Implementing a CRM is big step. It changes the way you work.
If you want your sales reps to use it for maximum effect, you need to train them, and help them fully embrace CRM best practices in the process.
Depending on complexity, CRMs have training resources you can use to guide your team.
You can also get experts on board, or simply ask your CRM provider for help.
There's no excuse for a lack of proper CRM training.
Having clean data is important, but don't get rid of lost deals just yet.
Historical data can have a crucial role in helping you understand how to improve your sales process. It can also help you reposition your product or service.
For example, you might, at some point struggle with your sales. Using historical data to identify the main dealbreakers and cross them with prospect data can be your way out.
Yes, your CRM is supposed to improve sales productivity. But it also allows your whole team to have a global view of the process.
And sure, competition is good, but it doesn't exclude collaboration. Thanks to a CRM that the whole team can access, your reps can help each other. They can also communicate with marketing who can provide them with the right content at the right stage.
A CRM is a great opportunity to get your team working together. Make it happen!
CRM companies will tempt you with a host of features.
That's how they make money.
But do you really need artificial intelligence? Or super advanced reporting if you're a small business? You already know that too many KPIs can't be good.
A CRM should be easy to use. Actually, that should be your primary criteria.
Also, you define your own needs.
Once you know what you expect from your CRM, stick to it.
This seems obvious but it needs to be mentioned.
Once you have a CRM platform, your reps need to let go of the old ways. And they all need to do it.
Using a CRM will only work if everybody is using the same platform, otherwise things are going to crumble real fast. Also, your data won't be accurate and your KPIs will be meaningless.
Picking a CRM-and building a sales stack in general-is a whole process.
Actually, it starts with having a sales process.
Only then can you think about CRM.
Before rushing into buying a CRM, make sure you even need one. And if you do, make sure it fits your needs.
And when it does, make sure it's easy to use.
And if it is, have it validated by your team, and train them to use it.
From there, keep it simple, track performance and foster collaboration.
Forster Perelsztejn is the head of marketing and customer acquisition at Rooftop. He has spent most of his career working in SaaS and creating content for a variety of authoritative publications. When he’s not working, you can find him playing music, taking photos, and taking care of his pets.