Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, has been around for decades. By now, it’s common knowledge that CRM systems have transformative potential when it comes to streamlining operations and maximizing revenues. Yet very few businesses get the most out of their CRM systems. In many cases, high expectations lead to disappointing results. But how can this be when so much sincere effort has been invested in making CRM a game-changing innovation?
Ironically, many sales forces don’t get the most out of their CRM systems because they literally try too hard. They want their CRM to be the omnipotent center of their sales universe from day one. The expect it to be the single, all-knowing hub of all selling activity and information. If that sounds like your organization’s desire, then I would offer you only four words’ counsel: Good luck with that.
The number of companies that we’ve seen succeed with this center-of-the-universe strategy out of the gate can be counted on one hand. And the number that we’ve seen fail is, well, all of the rest. Successful CRM implementation isn’t rocket science—but it does require a strategy that adheres to these three best practices.
1. Keep It Simple
We’ve seen company after company add as many bells and whistles to their CRM tool as technically possible too quickly. They did so with the best intentions, yet they typically realized poor outcomes. The fewer tabs, the fewer fields, the fewer functions you can get away with in your CRM tool, the better. Add features and functions to build on to a workflow that is established.
2. Focus on What Matters
Salespeople need focus, and sales management isn’t always good at providing it. We tell salespeople that everything is important, and in no place is that more evident than a CRM system. When you’re choosing those few tabs, fields, and functions that should survive in your tool, choose the ones that will focus your sellers on the things that really matter. CRM should be implemented for one main reason: to make salespeople more productive. Any distraction from that focus is a waste of bits and bytes.
3. Remember, CRM is for the Reps
If we are honest with ourselves (and even if we’re not), CRM systems were originally sold as a fantastical reporting machine for senior leadership. Consequently, these systems are tremendously effective at generating management reports. However, that’s not the best use for CRM. A CRM system’s ideal role is to make it easier for salespeople to do their jobs. How can it enable better selling and improve buyer/seller interactions? That is the riddle that must be solved. And when you finally solve it, user adoption, perceived value, and field-level insights will soon flow from your CRM tool effortlessly.
These three strategies will lead to highly successful CRM implementations. We measure CRM success by its ultimate sales outcomes, not by its technical merit. CRM is an extremely powerful technology that can flex and grow to amazing heights. And therein lies the problem. If you want to succeed, tame your ambitions. Focus on the few important things that will make sellers better. And then, miraculously, CRM will become the game-changer that we all want it to be.