CRM-softwareToo often when companies talk about CRM, they’re referring only to the software and how they plan to use the new features.  But focusing solely on the software is not going to bring about fantastic business improvement.  The rush to implement new technology often overlooks the other very important aspects of successful CRM, which we’ll explore here.

People, Process, AND Technology

Over a decade’s worth of surveys reveal that far too many people think of CRM as a box of software packed with features and functions that will transform their business.  While choosing the right software is indeed important, a well-planned and successful CRM implementation must include two other critical elements: people and process.

The People

Everyone affected by the CRM system must “buy in” including your salespeople, marketing folks, support personnel, and management team. Successful CRM requires a cultural shift within your organization. So without the buy-in of all involved, you’ll wind up with nothing more than an expensive electronic address book that nobody uses.

That means that even if your salespeople prefer to use spreadsheets and want to continue doing it the old way, they must break the habit and use the CRM system.

Bottom Line: CRM cannot succeed without end-user acceptance (including management) and continuous use.

The Process

Once the entire company has bought in and is ready for CRM, the process begins. It’s important to look carefully and evaluate your current customer interactions and touch points to decide which processes can be improved … and how CRM can be used to achieve that improvement.

It takes careful planning for any process to be meaningful, so a strategy based on long-term goals is essential. What information are you going to include in the CRM system? Which reports are critical (open quotes, lost sales, etc.) and how will you interpret the data? What criteria for action will you establish and what form will those actions take?

Standardizing processes and leveraging your CRM data not only ensures consistency, it also helps to maximize the lifetime value of your customer relationships.

Putting it All Together

A road map tells you how to get from point A to point B, but it won’t take you there. The same holds true for CRM software. It can reveal the paths and connections between you and your customers and point you toward the potential opportunities. But how you make it all happen isn’t going to come solely from the software. With the right people, process, and technology in place, your CRM strategy can create customers for life.

Whether you’ve considered implementing CRM at your company or already using CRM software, be sure to contact us about getting the most out of your customer relationships.