There is a concept about CRM solution that may be new to some: it should actually assist and even empower salespeople. Instead of being viewed as a “necessary evil” by sales reps, salespeople should be able to rely on CRM to be their personal “automated assistant” in tracking sales through their pipelines, helping them get an overall view of where their sales stand, and being a fast source of necessary data to help get sales closed.
There are 5 basic qualities a CRM solution should have to meet these criteria:
#1: CRM Solution must be Flexible
Above all, CRM Solution must be flexible. The first and most important aspect of that flexibility lies in its mirroring of company operations. Can CRM be quickly adapted to the company’s sales process? Can it be changed as the sales process changes? Only in such a way can a CRM be useful to salespeople; data can be entered and later found in a logical sequence. Company executives and personnel outside of the sales department, knowing and understanding the sales process, will be able to access CRM, quickly grasp the current scene in sales, discover particulars about important prospects or customers, and be able to generate factual analyses and reports.
#2: Intuitive; Easy to Grasp and Use
A CRM solution that mirrors and follows a company’s sales process also makes it intuitive, in the most literal sense of the word. Since the sales process is already established, a CRM sales tool that follows it means it will by default be easier to use than one which doesn’t. Sales rep time is valuable, and is wasted when the sales rep has to spend time figuring out how to locate a particular account, or enter data, or retrieve data entered earlier.
#3: Compatible with Existing Technology
Another aspect of flexibility: Is CRM compatible with the many existing Apps that sales reps and the company are already using? These would include Microsoft Outlook, MS Office applications such as Word and Excel, SharePoint and others. If the CRM software chosen is not compatible with these, and if documents and files created with them cannot be included in CRM data, salespeople are forced to use these applications and save files separately from CRM. This means that data so saved will not be accessible in a central location, and vital information about prospects, customers and particular sales could be lost. Before firmly deciding on a CRM solution, make sure it has such features as an Office addin, Outlook addin, a SharePoint client and any others that make compatibility possible. Companies also utilize many other programs, such as accounting and inventory, some of which may have even been developed at the company. If your CRM vendor can easily customize the CRM to be compatible with those, it’s a big plus.
#4: CRM Cloud
There is one fact about salespeople that should always be taken into account when considering a CRM solution:
- they are often not rooted to their desks.
- they are out visiting prospects and clients.
- they are having meetings.
- they are on the road.
The expectation that a sales rep must come back to the office and spend time updating CRM data is years out of date. While remote access has long been a fact of life, the modern enterprise utilizes a CRM cloud solution. Of course this means CRM is accessible from anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection: Starbucks, restaurants, hotel rooms and even pulled over by the side of the road, which can save a sales rep literally thousands of hours having to enter data into the CRM at his or her desk. But it also has numerous benefits for the company beyond a simple remote access feature. CRM uptime is virtually guaranteed, without the involvement of your company’s IT personnel.
A CRM cloud solution also means that data is synchronized between multiple company offices locations, no matter where those offices happen to be.
Any data entered into CRM is available to any office location or any officer or employee within those offices that has been granted access to CRM.
#5: Device Access
The subject of remote access would not be complete without the mention of devices, for long gone are the days when remote access is done with laptops only. Most today are using iPhones, iPads, Android phones and other handheld devices. This should be taken into account with the choice of Mobile CRM tools; any CRM solution chosen should be accessible through any and all such devices.
Use this list as a guideline in choosing a CRM solution, and truly provide your sales reps with the automated tools they need to sell.
Watch for further articles in our series on CRM solutions.