Which is the best Customer
Relationship Management package?
I was at a networking event recently and in discussions with one of the delegates after
discovering that I work in software implementation. He asked me “which is the best CRM system to buy”. He had purchased a solution, on the advice of his business advisor and had done the set up but had nothing to compare it to and didn’t know what to expect. I explained to him that when I conduct a training session on CRM, I introduce to the audience the very first CRM system. It’s a paper diary. It allows you to write down contact details, plan meetings (in chronological order) and make notes from meetings. If you must update the information, you can cross out the previous record and write the new details next to it to provide an audit trail. If you want to digitise this process, you better have a compelling reason to do so.
Sales, tracking customer, or supplier communications warranty issues are nothing new and has always been with us. With the advent of digital technology, which allows us to duplicate and share information instantly , this does open up opportunities for making this process more efficient (see previous article).
What are the advantages to implementing a CRM system?
I explained to my new friend, after much insistence, that there is no thing as the “best system”. It is only a tool and it must be fit for purpose. The solution can lead to disappointment, or worse you’ll overly complicate the process. A hammer to crack a walnut as the saying goes. The most important thing is the set-up, which captures the right information to help the business reach its goals. This means making sure you can collect all the contact details, name, company, position, address, email, phone number, social media profiles etc. You can then classify them by type of contact, either a customer, supplier partner. Next segment. Is it a medical, agriculture, finance etc. This is important to understand their work area to measure where most of your leads, sales or profit is coming from. This has an immediate relevance to your marketing plan as you can tailor your message to a distinct audience. Then you need other fields that you want to capture to measure the success, or otherwise of your marketing strategy. The source, website, trade show or networking event. That way you can highlight the best contact points for promoting your business. Then look at linking information. Does your CRM system talk to accounts? Would that process be useful? Do you want to track correspondence (law firm) emails, social media posts? If you have all this information how it is being reported on. Is it an understandable format or are you going to drown in data? This needs to be defined at the start otherwise you will miss information and the , reports become meaningless. Its then that you blame the system not who entered the data. Rubbish in rubbish out.
Maintaining what you have got.
Once implemented it then must be maintained. Just like your cleaner comes through each week and empties the trash, so to must you have a database administrator to check and audit information. This not only makes sure that information is put in correctly, but to instil a culture of data discipline throughout the organisation. No matter what size of organisation, from a one-man band to the largest Multi-national, this process must happen as mistakes happen and you need to keep data integral. As Mark carney said. If “data is the new oil” then don’t piss all over it.
We shall be continuing this series in look at Contact management systems next with “How do I know which CRM system is right for my business”? Please see our Services page for CRM options.
About the Author:
Malcolm Ford advises companies across the UK on how to implement and make the best use of CRM sales systems for their business models. He also trains sales staff on how to use systems to track the sales cycle.