Running a successful CRM platform requires leadership and vision at all stages, from buying to implementation to managing ongoing business processes. While executive-level leaders make the final decisions related to CRM software, they should involve stakeholders and users at all levels of the organization. With the consumerization of IT giving workers higher expectations of the technology they use at the office, making a CRM purchase without the right CRM expertise could be disastrous.
For many, the CRM buying process is the biggest hurdle to overcome. Vendors vie for companies' attention, and it can be hard to cut through the noise and identify the system that is the right fit. But challenges also crop up after a company implements the software. Now that CRM systems are much more than data repositories, they need to bolster sales forces, provide high-quality data, integrate with legacy systems and assist in executing marketing strategies. Running successful CRM initiatives and ensuring long-term success takes vision, patience and a willingness to learn from people both inside and outside of your organization.
This essential guide examines CRM leadership at three stages in the journey: Buying the technology, managing it and running a business correctly to encourage prolonged value. Executives and employees alike can learn how to proceed based on the experiences of leaders who have been in their shoes.
1The buying process-
Evaluating CRM software
Investing in the right technology is the first step in a successful CRM project. Companies need to carefully examine the vendor landscape, try multiple products and weigh the costs of different platforms before they commit to a system. Those in a CRM leadership role should seek advice and best practices from people who have been through the buying and implementation process before.
Selecting new software requires a long-term vision in order to maximize value. Companies that focus too much on features and functions are being short-sighted. Organizations need to think about how the software will be enhanced to meet their future needs and how it will integrate with legacy systems before they buy. Continue Reading
When a company needs a complete software overhaul, it can be easy to get seduced by feature-rich platforms. One company avoided common pitfalls by focusing on investing in a system that would suit its customer base and work well internally. Continue Reading
No enterprise CRM buying process is complete without taking a look at the two major players in the market: Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. While Salesforce can be the more expensive option, its ease of use and support structure makes it worth it, says one expert. Continue Reading
2Managing the system-
Tips and advice
Once a company decides on the CRM system that fits its needs, the challenge shifts to managing the system and maximizing its value. A well-designed and nurtured CRM system can do many things for an organization, including maintaining customer data quality, feeding marketing initiatives with worthwhile leads, helping sales departments reach their goals and enriching relationships with clientele. A good CRM system isn't worth anything if it isn't integrated with legacy data or other back-office systems, so companies need to consider the system's long-term management requirements.
If your CRM system is simply used as a place to house customer records and transactions, you're doing it wrong. It's not just a piece of software but a crucial tool that defines your customer relationships and transforms your business operations. Continue Reading
The marketing department must be closely integrated with the CRM system for a business to grow. If marketing automation is part of the equation, companies must invest in effective technology to make integration as quick and easy as possible. Continue Reading
Not a tech-savvy person? Don't worry; there are tips and resources that can bolster your developer skills to get the most out of your CRM. A Salesforce expert highlights some training modules, webinars and videos for non-techies to gain the knowledge they need. Continue Reading
CRM systems can enable businesses to learn from past interactions with customers and boost sales. It's time to rethink "customer lifecycle management" and focus on retargeting marketing and sales efforts using your CRM system. Continue Reading
When companies collect data from social media and mobile devices, they need to ask themselves how they will use it and what they need it for. As companies aggregate this data, often without customers' consent or knowledge, both sides must consider the privacy concerns that are inherent to this practice. Continue Reading
Knowing what customer data to collect, how to collect it and what to do with it are important to CRM. Poor data quality can also diminish potential revenue and hamper service offerings. Companies must think about these issues carefully before customer data is collected, analyzed and acted on. Continue Reading
Instead of conducting a traditional sales process, collaboration software provider Atlassian builds self-service into its product to help customers make purchases on their own. The company is focused on developing its product and making it easier for customers to use, a different approach that could support the future of B2B IT purchasing. Continue Reading
3Running a CRM system-
Business leaders need to possess vision, patience and expertise in their fields. Those qualities are essential to running a CRM project and ensuring its long-term success, but they aren't learned overnight. Before embarking on a new project, learn from people who have used their skills to get the most out of their CRM systems and get a leg up on next-level CRM leadership.
As a leader who understands the business challenges of planning for IT projects, Celso Mello, CIO of a Canadian home heating and cooling provider, constantly looks for ways to implement the best technology in the most cost-effective way. "Technology only makes sense if it improves things for customers, shareholders and employees," he says. Continue Reading
For Russ Hearl, jumping into the trenches with his sales team has been the secret sauce to success. The sales leader at DoubleDutch created a separate research unit to support his salespeople and feed them good leads. He's an evangelist for an assembly line-inspired approach to sales. Continue Reading
In an era where information on products is freely available on the Web, technology buyers can choose to never interact with a salesperson. Sales teams must become consultative to add value in this environment. HubSpot's Mark Roberge shares his data-driven approach to hiring and training. Continue Reading
Mergers and acquisitions are typically the domain of business-line executives. But technologists must seize the opportunity to work more closely with their counterparts and make sure that they understand the potential changes to IT infrastructure, costs, staffing and other areas. Continue Reading