CRM solutions from firms like Salesforce and Microsoft provide great capabilities to manage the B2B software sales process. Marketing automation tools that integrate to the CRM enable marketers to target clients and prospects with messaging and measure responses. But a CRM software product is a tool and unfortunately does not fix a broken sales process. Dirty data, poor processes and resistance to use by the sales teams will not produce results. Yet too often, firms will make large investments in CRM technology, sold on the idea that the spend will fix business and process problems.
Based on over 20 years experience working with companies adopting CRM’s and over 30 years running software companies, some of the key success factors for a CRM to realize the benefits management expect include:
- Senior management’s visible commitment. Too often companies deploy a CRM solution with little commitment or interest by senior management. The best deployments are where senior managers are committed to the solution and communicate that to staff. Why should staff change their behavior to adopt something that management is not committed to?
- Great processes in place where the CRM is an enabler. Software doesn’t fix bad processes, it only makes the processes run faster and more consistently. Get the processes right and then use technology to make them run faster and more efficiently
- A requirement for everyone to use. One of our very successful clients in my former company had a rule that if the information was not in the CRM, it didn’t exist. Sales people will not use a CRM because they love to type information into it and share details of their details with others in the firm. They will use it because its a requirement of their job.
- Look for ways to help sales people be successful. To often CRM’s are seen by sales people as time wasters that make them spend time doing stuff that consumes time and takes away from them making money. If the CRM can save sales people time and help them be more successful, adoption will follow. Workflows are a good example that can help automate routine processes, such as the tasks required after a prospect signs a proposal.
The bottom line is if you are looking to deploy a new CRM, ask if the items above will be in place. If your firm has made a big investment in CRM technology, but you feel it is not delivering the results expected, ask if the items above are in place. To often at my former company, we would see a firm toss out one technology and replace with a different one, expecting it to fix their process problems. Other than a lot of costs, in most cases the results were the same.