The 3 D’s of CRM Success

CRMThe concepts behind CRM systems are simple, but that doesn’t mean that achieving CRM success – getting value out of a CRM solution – is easy. Everyone is for the idea of storing all of your customer and deal-related data in a secure, central location, being able to get clear visibility into the effort that it takes your firm to secure a sale, and having the ability to accurately forecast when a sale will close.  However,  actually realizing the significant potential of a CRM solution requires a serious commitment by an organization. If you want to have a successful CRM implementation, here are a few key things that absolutely must underpin your rollout.

  1. Decisions – Before you do anything, you have to make some decisions. What key data are you going to capture to help you categorize your accounts, contacts, leads, and opportunities? What data elements are you going to make a required field? What are the right stages for your sales pipeline and what are the correct criteria for each stage. Make sure that your pipeline stages map to your prospects’ buying cycle. What is the correct forecast weighting for each pipeline stage? What is the difference between a lead and an opportunity?  There are several other questions that will pop up, but these will get you started.
  2. Discipline – Implementation of a CRM is not an event, it’s a lifestyle. To be successful, you must use the system all of the time and rely on the information that it provides. Train users thoroughly on how to use the CRM system and continuously reinforce its usage. Create dashboards for company leadership and make sure that leaders communicate that they are making assumptions and decisions based on the CRM data. Adopt the use of the phrase that made famous, “if it’s not in CRM, it didn’t happen.” Break the habit of making ad hoc requests of reps about their deals.  Instead, ask them to elaborate on the information about a deal in CRM or ask why there is no information captured.
  3. Data – Start with clean data and resolve to keep it clean. Set up required fields for the critical data that you need to capture.  However, don’t overdo it and make the system too unwieldy.  Be sure to clean purchased lists before they are imported.  Always search for a company or contact name before you enter that name – someone else may have already entered it or it may be related to another account. When companies merge or contacts change jobs, update their records. Have a plan to periodically scan for duplicate records and remove them from the system.

Your company’s market engagement and sales processes are obviously critical to your ability to grow your business, so these processes should be managed just like you manage your other business functions. If you will make the commitment, a CRM solution is the best way to manage these processes successfully.