By Scott Gordon, The Chief Revenue Officer
I’m surprised how often the following conversation happens when discussing what I do with potential prospects:
Prospect – “What is it you do exactly?”
Me – “I help companies improve their online reputation and operations using cloud based platforms like Podium and Zoho CRM.”
Prospect – “What’s CRM?”
Me – “Customer Relationship Management, it’s software that helps you automate and track interactions with your customers.”
Prospect – “So you do lead management.”
Me – “At a very basic level, yes, but there’s so much more…”
While it’s true that many companies begin by using CRM as a lead management system, an enterprise grade CRM platform provides an order of magnitude more capability – and many companies are barely tapping into its potential.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) describes the entire lifecycle of your relationship with your customers. This lifecycle includes the ever important ‘lead stage’ where your sales team works to qualify, pitch, follow-up, and close prospects, and later extends into the ‘deal stage’ where you’ve sold something to a client and now need to deliver it. Finally, it encompasses all the service calls, tickets, remarketing, etc that live in the post-sale phase of your relationship.
As I’ve written about many times before, process is the crucial delineator between companies that scale and those that don’t. Before we continue, let’s define what I mean by process. In my definition of process, the system is so well defined that anyone in your organization (or a new employee) can jump right into any administrative job and pick up where the last person left off.
Therefore, systems need to be encapsulated and indoctrinated in some way. CRM becomes the framework on which we hang our process and systems and make them instantly understandable to all.
Processes that are the same every time can be captured and automated using workflows. The concept here is that the CRM walks employees step by step through each ‘milestone’ ensuring that it is completed in the same way and with the same quality every single time. It includes alerts to managers when tasks are behind schedule or not being completed along with reminders to the responsible parties that today we need to do x, y, and z, in this order, with these priorities.
Using workflows to capture standard procedures provides a consistent and predictable customer experience that often results in higher online ratings and repeat business, as well as, greater employee engagement, retention, and job satisfaction that feeds higher online ratings and repeat business, etc. When used properly, CRM creates a virtuous cycle.
Once we successfully capture process in CRM, we now have the ability to forecast. While forecasting isn’t necessarily ‘seeing’ the future, it can act as a predictive indicator of it.
Think of how you might capture sales process to ensure your sales team is completing all tasks necessary to achieve quota attainment. To accomplish this, we must know which activities lead to sales results. I call this ‘knowing your numbers’. It’s comprised of how many calls, presentations, follow-ups, etc are needed to close a single deal. We then work backwards to figure the daily activities required by each sales person. The real trick is monitoring and enforcing these activity levels to drive consistency.
For example, you may need ten leads to book four appointments to close one deal. Once we know this, we can capture all sales related activities in CRM and measure how well individuals on the sales team are complying with the numbers.
Here things get interesting. If a sales person is doing everything they are required to do and still not hitting their numbers, we may have a training issue, have made a bad hire, or discover he/she is fishing in the wrong pond. On the other hand, if they aren’t completing the activities, we know they aren’t going to make it long before we have to report quarterly results, and can take appropriate action now.
We’ll also be able to see those who are doing more than required, those who are achieving better than average results, etc. The point is that we now have forward visibility. In other words, we are no longer running our business by looking at it in the rear-view mirror.
Think of how far you would get driving your car if you did so solely by referring to the data presented by your rearview mirror (a lagging indicator). How far do you think you’d get before you hit something? Interestingly, many business owners drive their companies this way. They use lagging indicators to measure their business and wonder why they’re not getting anywhere or in never ending ‘firefighting’ mode.
CRM, used properly, can be transformative. It can assist with marketing campaigns, sales activities, customer service, procurement, delivery, social media interactions, email parsing, calendaring, resource management, and myriad other critical business processes and activities.
If you’re currently running your business off a spreadsheet or using a system that provides only lead management features, chances are you are putting an artificial ceiling on your own growth prospects.
True CRM is more than lead management, it’s customer and employee management. It’s an eye toward what’s coming down that road at us and the staircase that brings our company to ever higher levels of achievement.