For over twenty years now, CRM solutions have been a bone of contention between company executives and the sales force.
The executives want something that coordinates customer activities between various departments including sales, and allows them to monitor sales and make sure salespeople are selling. On the other hand sales reps, sick to death of having to be data entry clerks, would like to have a CRM solution that actually empowered them and assisted them in managing their pipelines—without having to enter copious amounts of data that will be totally useless to them later. And the twain has rarely met.
At least mentally, let’s totally solve this problem. Completely putting aside the real world for the moment, what if you could build your own ideal CRM solution for your company, from the ground up, that functioned exactly the way the company needed it to? What would it look like?
#1: Following Your Sales Process
Your company most likely has a sales process it follows, and ideally this process begins with marketing, runs through all the steps of a sales cycle through the close, and continues on through customer service and/or support. If your company is running a traditional CRM solution, however, it is highly likely that CRM does not follow your sales process, or at least not completely.
But back to our imaginations: let’s decide that your custom CRM solution does follow your sales process exactly and precisely. That means that anyone having to interact with CRM knows where to save data relating to a sale. Marketing can track the leads they are providing and see how they’re working. Sales management is able to view the sales pipeline for the whole sales force, for a portion of it, or for a single rep. Salespeople can easily manage their sales because all activities proceed in a logical direction. Executives can view the whole process and can proactively address problems before they become lost sales or customer grievances.
#2: Compatible with Legacy Systems and Applications
In addition to a CRM solution a company has other applications and systems they’re working with both new and old. There’s one for accounting. There’s another for inventory. There’s one marketing uses for collaboration, and another for mailings. Then of course there are the applications everyone uses such as MS Office applications.
Your ideal CRM would certainly be compatible with all of your existing systems and applications—or at the very least the most important ones. Documents and data created with these could be smoothly imported into CRM and utilized therein.
#3: Precise Sales Analytics—for Your Pipeline
Along with your ideal CRM solution that exactly mirrors your sales pipeline, you also have metrics that will measure progress at each stage of that pipeline. How many leads are going in? How valuable are those leads? How quickly do they convert into viable prospects? How quickly are they closing?
Such sales analytics also reveal how well each of the salespeople are performing, and how the sales force is performing as a team.
#4: Easily Created Forecasts and Analyses
With traditional CRM applications, sales forecasts can be a burden on sales management and salespeople alike. Forecasts begin with lengthy consultations with reps. They are then compiled by sales managers and forwarded onto company executives. Not only is it a time-consuming process, it is a risky one because they are based on “best guesses” by salespeople.
But your ideal CRM application has not only greatly reduced the amount of time needed for forecasting, it has made it considerably more accurate. Because these forecasts are based in real, usable pipeline data and not guesswork, they can be forwarded with a much higher degree of confidence, and can be confidently relied upon by executives for the future.
Your ideal CRM solution possesses reporting capabilities that make such forecasts so easy, the reps can even do it themselves and forward them onto sales management. Sales managers can rapidly assemble them into a single report that then goes onto executives. This could also be done with sales analyses.
#5: Everybody Loves It
For the first time company executives, sales management and salespeople are all quite happy with the CRM solution! How did that happen? Well, it was made entirely to the specifications that your company demanded.
So now back out of our imaginations and into the real world. Back to a CRM solution that is cumbersome, only partially usable and that salespeople continuously grumble about.
Is this where your story should end? A CRM solution should be completely customizable along the lines of everything listed above, dovetailed to your company’s actual operations and needs. Here is what such a solution looks like.