What is CRM?
This is a simple question with a long answer. It’s different for every business, so I’ll cover off what CRM is, what it can do, how it can help and how you can make it successful without breaking the bank or losing your sanity. Hopefully this will give you a starting point in understanding what CRM is capable of and how it can help you and your business.
My first experience with CRM was underwhelming – I remember thinking ‘What is this thing even for?’
I remember the day I installed my first CRM. I got it up and running and was presented with an empty list of “Accounts”. I didn’t get it. This couldn’t help me. I uninstalled it and didn’t think about it for years.
We carried on our day to day business of creating bespoke software – sometimes extending CRM systems to make them more useful, other times building them from scratch.
We wrote telemarketing systems, phone system integrations, reporting systems and commission calculators. We created something that collected leads from websites and loaded them into a CRM. We processed sales data and loaded it into MYOB automatically. Most of the work we did was around business process automation, and all of those things made businesses more efficient and saved valuable time and money. Sometimes a little bit, often a lot. With smart programmers and a bit of common sense, we could reduce effort from days to minutes (computers excel at repeated monotonous tasks like commission calculation).
We spent a lot of time working with hundreds of different businesses to solve their unique business problems in a whole set of industries. We responded to customer pain, and we made it go away. And then we realised: we’d been working on CRM all along, so we decided to write our own. To find out more about our CRM, click here.
CRM: The Absolute Basics
Who knows what Chris was working on? Did he tell anyone before the bus hit him?
At its heart, CRM is a customer database. At a minimum it’s a shared customer and contact list. It also allows you to record interactions with your leads and your customers. It doesn’t sound like much (and don’t worry, it can do a lot more than this) – but it’s essential for any business.
Something as simple as the ability to record all of your leads provides the ability to manage and control your sales pipeline. When you are dealing with 3 leads at a time, keeping it all in your head is easy! But, as your business grows and you have to deal with 30 leads, keeping things in your head is a sure-fire way to miss opportunities and leave money on the table.
- Helps you keep your promises by “writing them down” in one place.
- Helps manage your day by always having your tasks, leads and customer info right in front of you.
- Reduces your reliance on key people (including yourself) by centralising and sharing important information.
- Gives you control of your business, with an overview of where everything is at.
CRM: Efficiency Gains
This weekend, just after midnight, a client asked me to adjust a quote. Because I don’t quote in Word or Excel, I was able to quickly do so from a web browser in just a few moments.
Everyone in my team can see the quote, the email I attached to it and the state of play. Should the quote be accepted, the customer can do so online, causing an invoice to be created in our accounting system without further intervention from me.
I’ll then generate a project, with all of the associated tasks that form part of the quote – so I can track what is done and delivered and what still remains to be done.
Work/life balance comments aside, this is just one example of an efficiency gain – there are many more if we look a little further.
Reduce Double or Triple Handling of Data
Most of the businesses I work with have complained about double handling of data. It can be as simple as price lists that need to be rekeyed, copied and pasted or emailed around. CRM can allow you to centralise your price list (and share it with accounts).
When sales are won, we want to automatically transfer data to MYOB or XERO, saving on admin time and improving accuracy.
If you have an online store you’re probably getting orders by email, which then need to be re-keyed for processing. We can automatically import those into CRM so you don’t have to.
Inventory can be tracked in CRM to ensure you don’t oversell – giving the sales team in-field, mobile visibility of data from their smartphone or tablet. And if freight is a big part of your sales process – we’re able to connect with freight companies to get real-time comparative quotes to save you punching the same data into 3 systems for comparative quotes.
Again, these are just some efficiencies. Since pretty much anything can be automated, you should review your business for laborious or time wasting activities and think about how they could be streamlined or removed completely.
CRM is Most Important When Businesses Want to Change
We used to run an IT Support business, so we created a database of customer information. It was never updated by our IT support tech. He saw it as pointless busy-work until a customer called when he was out of office and he was the only one that could help. When we hired more support techs the shared data became an increasingly valuable resource.
In the early days, Tall Emu would have three or four projects on the go at a time. It was easy for me as the head consultant-slash-sales-guy to keep it all in my head. As we’ve grown, having a place to write the notes and commentary lets us all stay up to speed.
- Does your business need to change?
- Are you disorganised?
- Do you want to grow – take on extra salespeople, or more project work?
- Will that result in more tasks for your Customer Service team to handle?
- Will you need to establish a Customer Service team?
- Are you getting serious about Marketing? A new online store perhaps?
CRM is Only Useful if You Can Get People to Use It
CRM can be hard to get into small teams because they often see it as just “one more system” they have to use. Extra work for no pay. A pointless waste of time.
I’ve heard it all, and there is one simple trick for getting people to use CRM:
Make it useful, and part of the process.
Sure, you can try the Carrot and Stick approach – but very few people have the balls to fire a salesperson who is performing well for not filling in activity logs! So to get the team to use the product, you have to do these two things.
People will want to use it if it makes their life easier.
Salespeople manage the relationship with the customer. Depending on what type of sale you make, (box moving versus longer term projects or account-managed repeat customers) there are different strategies that can be used to make a salesperson’s life easier.
- If activity is logged in the CRM this can replace timesheets. I’ve never met anyone who likes filling these in.
- Provide useful information to the salesperson in CRM – account status, pricing, customer service history.
- No matter what you do, try to get as much data going into the system automatically as you can. If I can see what a customer has bought with a few clicks because it’s being imported from MYOB overnight – then I will, especially if the alternative is logging into MYOB
- Provide some automated reporting for things that matter to them – sales, targets, commissions.
- If other people speak with their clients, an automated email when someone writes a note in CRM about one of their clients can make it easier to keep their finger on the pulse.
- Non-negotiable: New leads created in the CRM and assigned to sales. CRM then becomes their best mate.
- Provide simple tools to help them manage and view their pipeline.
And don’t make it too complex. It may be nice to know which sporting team someone follows, their inside leg measurement and favourite colour – but don’t throw a whole bunch of mandatory fields at it. Keep it light and easy.
People will need to use it if it’s part of the process.
Assuming you’re making it useful, you’re probably already making it part of the process as the two do cross over a fair bit – but there should be policy in place that:
- All new lead data is entered into CRM (not accounting software).
- All quotes should be logged (ideally – generated and managed) inside the CRM.
- Sales must be keyed directly into CRM. This is why we have placed so much emphasis on our accounting integrations – it has to be streamlined.
- If you pay commissions – they are calculated on CRM data.
- If you track meetings held – track it based on CRM data. I did a job for one company where, to get your bonus, you had to hit a meeting target, and meetings outside of CRM did not get counted.
The Power of Integration
In my view, it’s essential that your CRM software doesn’t stand alone. Of course, CRM does have value as a simple contact and pipeline database, but it can be so much more. With each integration, there’s a possibility to improve customer service or reduce waste and workload – to do more with less.
Think about the company who owned the first fax machine… every subsequent purchase of a fax machine made the first one potentially more useful.
At Tall Emu, we focused firstly on accounting integrations (MYOB and Xero) so we can share customer data, price, product and sales data. This is a massive reduction in double-entry and if I had to pick one integration to have, it would be this one.
Mail Chimp and Campaign Monitor become much more powerful if you can segment, search, filter and create email campaigns based on sales and lead data (which is all centralised in CRM).
E-Commerce becomes much easier when orders can automatically be downloaded, new customers created, accounting work done automatically for you – and even automatically email a 3PL if you use those services.
I know I have probably rambled on a bit in this post, but I make no apology for it. I hope that it has given you a bit of an insight into what CRM is, how it can help your business and what Tall Emu’s Cloud CRM can do.
Our CRM can be deployed very, very quickly – you can get it up and running during a 30 day free trial process and be operational within hours, especially if you use MYOB or XERO.
You probably have a good grasp on the CRM basics, and how CRM can be used in a powerful and efficient way. There’s no better way to see if CRM will work for you than to try it yourself! Start a 30-day free trial of Tall Emu CRM and see, first-hand, how it will help your business. Start Your Free Trial