Struggling to get the most out of your CRM? You're not alone, if Hubspot's State of Inbound Sales 2015 report is any indication. Among the thousands of sales reps and executives surveyed, just seven percent were “extremely confident” in the completeness of their platform's data. A nearly identical number indicated extreme confidence in their platform's sales funnel management ability. That leaves a large number of people somewhere between very confident (31 percent) and not confident (15 percent).
Popularity isn't the problem. Over 40 percent of respondents claimed CRM as their primary data management tool, more than double the number who used custom databases, the second-place finisher. It's not a revenue issue, either. From small businesses to billion-dollar giants, CRM was the most popular option. So what's the problem, and how do you fix it? Let's take a deeper look at the numbers, and find out.
The Challenges: Integration, Investment, and Data Entry
More than 25 percent of companies surveyed spent between zero and $1,000 getting their platform “running and integrated,” a that number holds for all but the largest businesses. The time investment was similarly slanted toward the low end, with the most popular choice, one to three months, checking in at 30 percent.
More than 20 percent reported spending less than one month getting their software up, running, and integrated. You can decide whether it's surprising, then, that 20 percent of respondents indicated lack of integration as their primary challenge.
We'll get to solutions soon, but there's one more less obvious challenge worth considering first. CRM satisfaction correlates strongly with the amount of time that sales reps spend manually inputting data. Of “extremely satisfied” users, 42 percent reported spending 31-60 minutes inputting data. Unsatisfied users skewed heavily toward the 120+ minute range.
How to Make CRM Work for You
When you take all of the data together, a number of familiar challenges come into focus. The companies that invest the least resources in training and integration tend to be the least happy with their results. Along the same lines, the sales reps who spend the most time inputting data are the least likely to embrace sales tech. By improving the training process, embracing integration, and providing continual support, you can maximize the value of your CRM.
Data storage and retrieval isn't just a job for your sales team. In most companies, marketing also plays an important role. It's vital, then, to make sure both teams are on the same page, which starts with the purchasing process. The platform you choose should, ideally, have the support and research-based backing of both sales and marketing.
Collaboration between sales and marketing should continue throughout your use of CRM. Integration is an action word. By working together, your teams are better equipped to iron out issues and maximize efficiency. It's a good idea to get both sides in a room regularly, and provide less formal channels for easy collaboration.
Training is the key to the process, and it's not all about money. Simply committing to comprehensive training is a big step. Show your people the importance of the platform by offering the resources they need to learn. By conducting online resources, asking for outside advice, and leveraging the knowledge of employees who've used CRM, you can provide effective training without breaking the bank.
Data entry is a teachable skill, too. A small but regular amount of time dedicated to practice can greatly improve your team's typing skills and comfort level with the platform. Of course, that might still be a tough sell to your sales reps. Look for a platform with a reputation for simple, streamlined data entry to avoid this headache.
In the end, CRM is similar to most game-changing technology – it's as powerful as the people who use it. Investing in a great platform is the first step, but your commitment to training is what really shapes the value you'll receive. Of course, that also makes your team's buy-in level an important piece of the puzzle. By clearly demonstrating the time-saving and deal-closing benefits of CRM, you can get your team to buy in with no reservations.
There's a real temptation with technological tools to expect perfection. It sounds so great when it's being pitched to you that the realities of integration may not get the proper attention. The truth is that you get out what you put in. Considering the stakes, developing a clear, focused integration process for your CRM is simply smart business.