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Six new year health checks for your CRM

In the spirit of new year's resolutions, we thought we'd share our own targets for our Customer relationship management (CRM) software. All too often, systems (and the associated processes) have stagnated since they were deployed. Over time this results in reduced sales effectiveness and, ultimately, undermining why you have a CRM system in the first place.

Our ambition is to get you sweating your CRM investment. In that spirit, here are our proposed CRM new year's resolutions.

1) Make sure you're getting information out

When last did you look at a chart or, better yet, a dashboard? Nobody feels motivated to capture data onto a system, any system, if they don't get any personal benefit for doing so.

Ensure that your dashboards and charts reflect the way you operate and measure your business. Then make sure you reinforce their use by referring to them in your own work patterns as well as in team meetings, review sessions etc.

2) Watch your weighted pipeline

While you've got 'info out' top of mind, make sure you're watching your weighted pipeline. Weighted pipeline, in which each prospect opportunity is given a specific value based on where they are in the buying process, is one of the most straightforward ways to get a handle on likely future revenue. If you break it down and discuss it with your sales team, it can also help you fine-tune your skills and focus your efforts. If there is one interpretation of your data that you can use to shape how you operate your sales team, it is likely this one. Ensure that your CRM prominently shows the weighted pipeline (you shouldn't have to go looking for it) and that your opportunity forms or screens are set up to emphasise the importance of capturing the relevant data (estimated revenue, win likelihood and estimated close date).

3) Make sure your emails are part of your customer picture

So much conversation happens via email these days and it is easy to lose track of these. This could be the final aspects of a commercial conversation or those all-to-too important initial introductions and referrals.

Ideally, your CRM will allow you to track an entire conversation rather than email-by-email. In order to maintain a complete view of customers and opportunities, ensure that your email conversations are being tracked relative to both the relevant contact and, if appropriate, relevant lead or opportunity.

4) Don't ignore your existing customers

It is accepted gospel that customer acquisition is much harder and more expensive than customer retention. And yet we often see people falling into the trap of ignoring their existing customers because their effort is focused on acquiring new ones. A check-in phone call could be all it takes to keep in touch and understand whether you're still providing the right service. Keeping track of renewal dates with some automated reminders will help you put yourself top of mind before any decisions are made.

5) Understand what lead sources are working for you

If you're in a world where you gather leads or opportunities from multiple sources, you want to be sure that you focus your effort where you will get the most return. In order to do this, you'll want to be sure you have an ability to monitor where leads or opportunities are coming from and which of those sources generates the best results.

Do you have the relevant charts within your CRM to understand your lead sources?

6) Keep it simple

It is very easy to make systems and processes complicated. How many fields do you need to complete in order to capture an opportunity? How many mandatory fields are there to progress an opportunity through its various stages? There should always be a balance between what you could conceivably ask users to do and what will really help them proactively manage their sales. The system should support your sales team progress along their sales process, it shouldn't hinder them. This was the batch we came up with when discussing how to ensure we start 2017 in a focused manner. I've no doubt there are more than you could think of, feel free to add in the comments!
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