Managing relationships in the modern sales environment is hard work, especially if you don't have the right tools for the job. Take something as simple as choosing the medium you'll use to contact a prospect. A phone call might work, but what if your prospect prefers email, or social media, or video chat, or instant messaging, or... you get the idea. With today's technology, every decision you make during the sales process depends on more variables than ever before.
The good news is that help is available, for salespeople who want to streamline and strengthen relationship management. Hubspot's State of Inbound Sales 2014 report indicates that over 40 percent of sales companies use a customer relationship management (CRM) system to manage customer data, and that number is growing.
In the same survey, the best CRM satisfaction numbers correlate strongly with quality training and integration practices. The most common challenges are integrating the software effectively, and getting your people on board with the process. Let's take a look at 4 practical tips to unlock the value of your CRM.
1. Develop a comprehensive training plan
Even your most tech-savvy sales reps are going to need training with sales tech, and how you train makes all the difference in your ROI. Training requires resources, but you can still get the job done on a budget. The key is being willing to invest the time necessary to train effectively. Understand that learning to use any technological tool is a process, and be willing to coach your team over the inevitable hurdles.
It's also important to recognize that not every sales rep will be starting from the same place. Reps who are familiar with the latest technology will naturally catch on quicker, while those used to traditional methods might require extra coaching. The functionality of the CRM you choose also plays a big role. With the right system, even inexperienced reps will have an easier time learning.
2. Integrate Tech Apps With CRM
Think of your CRM system as the hub of your sales management platform. It's the place where information converges, but there are many peripheral elements, or “spokes,” that connect to your hub. It starts with marketing. Your marketing automation, telephony system, social selling tools, and email tracking software should all be directly integrated with your CRM.
Sales chat, lead management, and online meeting systems should also be integrated. So really, just about every tech tool you use for sales and marketing can be connected to your hub. It's also important for your sales and marketing teams to be on the same page. Integration requires a focused effort from both departments.
3. Use Tech Apps That Automate Data Entry
Raise your hand if you enjoy inputting data. If your hand is up, you clearly didn't participate in HubSpot's 2014 State of Inbound survey. Among many interesting tidbits, the survey reveals that time spent inputting data has the strongest correlation with CRM satisfaction, in both directions. Sales reps want to spend less time inputting data, and management agrees.
Data entry is a coachable skill, but likely not one you want to spend a ton of time on with your team. Instead, consider using apps that automate data entry. Ringio's online phone system, for example, records all the relevant data of a phone call automatically, so your rep is free to focus on the prospect they're speaking to. Any opportunity to automate data entry is worth considering.
4. Use Data Insights to Coach Best Practices
At its heart, CRM is a data management tool, and all of that data is useful for more than just closing deals. It will also generate insights into the practices of your sales reps, both positive and negative. Use your analytics to identify the best practices of high-performing sales reps, and share that information with the rest of your team.
Your analytics will also help you identify sales reps in need of extra coaching. This doesn't have to be a negative thing, either. It's much easier to solve a struggling rep's challenges when you approach things from a strong analytic perspective. Sales reps are naturally a data-driven bunch, and appealing to analytics is the best way to embrace that mindset.
In the end, most of these tips go back to integration, in one form or another. You need to integrate your CRM with the rest of your tech tools, but it's just as important to make sure sales and marketing approach relationship management from an integrated perspective. That means providing comprehensive training, and showing your people the benefits of CRM in clear terms. Get everyone on the same page, and you've taken the biggest step toward maximizing your ROI.