When I work with a company that is trying to get the most value from its CRM system, I start with questions about which metrics they’re tracking and how, and I’d like to pose the same questions to you: Do you measure activity by key manufacturers and products? How, and how often? How are you handling manufacturer-requested reports? Have you established key performance indicators (KPIs)? What are they? How do you measure and monitor them?
Take some time to really explore these questions. Getting the answers is the first step in identifying inefficiencies and gaps in your reporting processes. For example, many companies use spreadsheets to manually create reports and must recreate the wheel each time they want to look at the data. I applaud any company that is taking the time to track important metrics, but I recognize how difficult it can be to find the time to manually create reports every time you want to know what’s really going on in your company for any given week, month, quarter or year.
This is where CRM can help. An effective CRM system will automate your reporting processes and, even better, provide you with real-time information, so you can check important metrics more regularly and say goodbye to hours of time wasted updating spreadsheets. Why does this matter? Let’s take quote management as an example.
Is your company’s quote follow-up as good as it could be? Do your reps consistently send timely, accurate quote follow-ups to your customers? Imagine how it could impact your hit rate if you could send a customized follow-up email several days after an initial quote is sent without lifting a finger. And imagine how great it would be if you could track quotes that have fallen through the cracks by customer or by product, gaining insight into what might have gone wrong. Even if your company does have a follow-up process in place, if it’s not automated, it’s taking up a lot of your rep’s time to create these follow-up emails – time they could be using to pursue new business.
Quote automation is just one example; now imagine being able to automate processes and gain insights into other areas of your company that affect customer relationships, including contact management, target account management, calendar management, vendor visit management and more.
Just remember that the automation that CRM can bring to your company won’t do anything for you if you don’t already have effective processes in place (see this blog on the importance of processes). It also takes a significant time investment to implement a CRM system, a large part of which should be spent thinking carefully about the reports you already know you’d like to have automated and imagining what reports you’d like to have in the future. Despite the initial time investment, though, you can gain a very real return on that investment when your CRM system and your new reports are up and running.
Another way you can maximize the ROI from your CRM system is by taking advantage of the bridges it can build between islands of data. We’ll cover this in the next blog post in this series.