Do you need a CRM system?

February 21, 2022
You ask we answer

It’s the start of a new calendar year and the time that so many businesses will be looking ahead and planning what they want to achieve next. Maybe there will a New Year’s Resolution or two mixed in with that and we all know the potential pitfalls there! With Brexit well and truly underway now it’ll be more important than ever that we look after our current customers and at the same time apply the same care to the leads that come into our business. Anyone that has ever had to do outbound telephone sales to get leads will know how hard it is and how precious each one is so they deserve to be looked after and handled very carefully.

So how do you handle this process currently? I’m amazed at how many companies that when I first start working with either have no formal system at all or at best an antiquated spreadsheet or ‘post-it’ note approach that even they admit is totally inadequate for the job. I hear horror stories of how many thousands of pounds of potential sales are lost because they are forgotten or not followed up.

So what can a CRM System do for my business?

I think here the question should be switched around and be phrased more along the lines of ‘What do you want a CRM system to do for your business?’

The classic definition of a CRM System is – a technology for managing all your company’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers. The goal is simple: Improve business relationships. A CRM system helps companies stay connected to customers, streamline processes, and improve profitability.

When people talk about CRM, they are usually referring to a CRM system, a tool that helps with contact management, sales management, productivity, and more.

A CRM solution helps you focus on your organization’s relationships with individual people — including customers, service users, colleagues, or suppliers — throughout your lifecycle with them, including finding new customers, winning their business, and providing support and additional services throughout the relationship.

My belief is that this is the first essential part in providing the business leader with the management information to make fact based business decisions. Here are a few of the major features that a CRM System can provide

Contact management (The people you work with) ‘Properly implemented CRM solutions have been known to improve customer retention rate by as much as 27%.’ ( Source : )

  1. helps the business to collect and organize customer data efficiently
  2. tracks leads as they progress through the sales pipeline and make first purchase
  3. manages customer profiles, relationships and communication history
  4. gives a complete picture of all customers
  5. Account Management (The companies you work with)
  6. captures and organizes company, division or household information and manages relationship
  7. Quote and Order management
  8. When a customer is interested to buy product or service, sales person creates a quote with all details
  9. If customer agrees to buy it with specified price, order will be generated. If not, sales person either cancels the quote or revises it to meet customer requirement
  10. automates and streamlines this process for business. It improves order processing capability, sales visibility and relationship with customers
  11. Opportunity Management
  12. When business qualifies a lead, it becomes an opportunity
  13. An opportunity is potential revenue generating contact or account
  14. If business does not nurture contacts or accounts properly, it may lose selling opportunity
  15. enables business to manage and monitor sales funnel and provides necessary info to complete the sales process
  16. Sales Process Automation
  17. automates and streamlines various sales functionalities to standardise business processes
  18. The application can be customized as per requirements of the business
  19. It reduces human error, makes sales cycle shorter and improves lead to customer conversion ratio
  20. Campaign Management
  21. leverages the efficiency of marketing campaign by marketing process automation
  22. It reduces campaign cost, analyzes campaign data and forecasts future marketing strategy
  23. Customer Segmentation
  24. captures and analyzes customer data, coming from various sources. It divides customers into groups that share similar characteristics such as geography, age, gender, buying pattern or any custom rules
  25. Call Centre Automation
  26. enables service agent to solve customers’ problems quickly
  27. It gives right information at the right time to improve overall customer experience
  28. Interactive voice response (IVR), virtual agents, automatic call distribution are just few examples of call centre automation
  29. Service Automation (Did you know – poor customer service is the main reason behind customer attrition?
  30. 68% of consumers switch brands because of poor service. On contrary, 85% of customer churn due to poor service is preventable
  31. helps business to fix almost all factors behind Customer Experience failure
  32. automates and standardizes various service processes to reduce response time and human error
  33. It improves customer loyalty and builds trust
  34. Task Management – If a customer’s request is pending for long time because your employees do not know who should work on it, it will never improve customer experience
  35. business can automate task management process
  36. create and assign tasks among employees based on their skill set, availability, geography etc.
  37. Partner Management
  38. improves communication between companies and their channel partners
  39. It manages business partners’ relationship, shares data on real time across channels and streamlines processes
  40. Report and Dashboard
  41. gathers and analyzes customer data
  42. helps employees to perform daily tasks better
  43. business leaders take more accurate business decision
  44. Mobility
  45. mobile compatibility ensures that you can access data anytime anywhere
  46. Integration Capability – Absolutely critical if you want to avoid double data entry and joined up thinking
  47. ability to integrate external applications
  48. Integration with other applications helps business to see real time data in CRM from all systems
  49. Easy Customisation – The CRM should work for you, not the other way around
  50. Every business has its unique strategies and processes and to automate those processes, you have to customise CRM
  51. Training and ease to learn
  52. your employees must understand the application easily
  53. Ease of setting up and implementation – Most CRM systems fail or fail to be used because they were not set up properly and don’t deliver the benefits
  54. there needs to be sufficient help to enable effective implementation

Which CRM system is best for my business?

There are so many different systems that can offer such a wide range of functionality that it can all become a bit confusing to know which to choose and to be honest it’s a case of ‘courses for horses’. The first thing to do is to decide on the outcomes you want from the system and my suggestion is to think at least 5 years into the future. Too many businesses implement a system which is fit for purpose today because it’s cheap and then find they have a harder job changing it down the line when it’s no longer fit for purpose. Here’s a list of possible considerations although the list is by no means exhaustive

  1. What are the growth plans for my business?
  2. What will the business look like in 5 years time?
  3. Will I be selling on line?
  4. Will I be moving into different products or markets?
  5. Will technology change the shape of my business?
  6. Where am I missing opportunities in my sales process and what would help me prevent this?
  7. What do I want in the way of reports?
  8. Make a list of all the important ones
  9. What information is key for me to see on my dashboard?
  10. Maybe draw it out on paper
  11. What are my business processes and how do I want the business to work?
  12. Where will I need to access the data? remote, in the office, etc
  13. Who will need to use the system?

Other people have told me they’re a waste of time

Often when talking to business owners I find that their view of systems is tainted by the horror stories that they’ve heard from other businesses that have tried to implement a CRM system and it has been a very expensive and harrowing ordeal. Indeed this was my experience with my early interactions with such systems as I got my way through 5 different systems claiming that they were all useless, not fit for purpose and couldn’t do what I needed them to do. It was then that I came to understand what the common denominator was in all these systems……. ME. I tried to implement them all myself learning how to configure them and making an extremely bad job of it. Subsequently I now have a CRM system that was set up and configured by an expert in that system. Yes, sure it seemed expensive but it was up and running in less than two weeks with all the functionality that I wanted and started delivering benefits from the start. The payback on the implementation costs was less than 2 months and then the real fun can began. The beauty of this outside help was that they enabled me to tell them exactly what I wanted and then they built it directly in line with that spec. It saved me many hours of frustration in trying to learn a system myself and allowed me to focus on my core skill rather than becoming distracted for another 3 months.

This new system is in line with my terminology for the company, has only the field that I need (all other have been hidden) so it’s not at all cluttered. The reports are displayed how I drew them on paper, in real time and with accurate data to allow me to make the best business decisions at speed.

How do I decide which is best for my business?

Once you’ve created the requirements document as above, do your research. Talk to an implementation expert of all the systems that you are considering and check that they can be set up in the way that you need and be future proof. Consider how popular the system currently is; some systems are so embryonic or niche to your market that they may do the Customer part well but are they able to be integrated with other standard systems you use such as your Finance System, Purchasing system, work flow system, etc, etc, etc.

I’m worried that my team will not embrace the system and use it

Ok, this is one of those thorny issues that I’ll have to address head on with you. You are the leader of your business and understand that everything that we have spoken about above is necessary to run a proper business, we cannot compromise on client satisfaction otherwise our clients will vote with their feet. It is therefore not acceptable for anyone in the business to ignore or not embrace it. See this the same as payroll issues, your employees wouldn’t accept it if you didn’t pay them what you promised when you promised it and in line with the law. CRM adherence must become the law in your company otherwise your customers will suffer. 68% of customers leaving you to go elsewhere do so through ‘perceived indifference’, that is, the customer believes you don’t care. Of course you do, but that doesn’t matter, what matters is what the customer believes.

Will the system deliver a benefit to the business?

Almost definitely, 96% of businesses started fail within 10 years of their conception. There are many contributing facts to this statistic however a major factor is the lack of care with the customers and leads.

What can I do now to move forward?

If the points in this article have struck a chord with you then start your research now. If you would like any further help or information drop me an email

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