You’re probably wondering why we’ve never written about the benefits of a CRM system before. I mean, it’s right there on our homepage: “Process and tech (your CRM) are the keys to repeatable sales results.”
The thing is, I’ve been using them for so long that I always assume our clients (and every other sales team) already use one. They’re just maybe not utilizing it as well as they could, or they need help making it work for them.
That assumption is wrong.
Too often, we talk to salespeople, managers, or business owners that have never used one before, don’t think they need one, or don’t even know what they are. Sometimes all of the above.
So I want to write about them and tell you why I honestly don’t understand how any business functions without one. But before we get into why you absolutely should have one for your business or yourself, let’s first figure out what it is.
What is a CRM System?
CRM stands for customer relationship management. It is a tracking tool used to manage a company’s planned and actual interactions with current and potential clients.
And no, making notes in a spreadsheet is not a stand-in for a CRM, although it is better than nothing.
Most salespeople refer to CRM as the software solution they use to track their clients. In other words, as a salesperson, a CRM is a way to outsource your brain.
What Are the Benefits of a CRM System?
Honestly, I could probably write a 20-page thesis on why I love CRMs so much and why I believe every salesperson needs one.
I won’t do that to you, but there are clear benefits that everybody will see from a CRM system if it’s set up and used well.
Keeping Track of Your Clients
First and foremost, you have to have a way of keeping your clients’ information.
As cool as Rolodexes look in retro TV shows, nobody uses them anymore. But that doesn’t mean you should keep your clients’ and prospects’ information on your phone either.
For one thing, it’s just not safe. People lose their phones all the time, and while the Average Joe’s phone probably won’t get hacked, it can happen.
You owe it to your clients to store their information somewhere safe, secure, and only accessible by the people that need it.
That’s the other thing: your clients’ information might need to be used by people other than you. Do you really want to send a number or email every time somebody else needs to get a hold of them? Probably not.
Storing all of your client’s information in a single secure place is one of the top benefits of a CRM system.
Following Your Process
I know what some of you are saying, “I don’t need CRM software just to store their information.” You might be right about that, but there is so much more your CRM can do for you.
If you’re following a sales process (and you probably are, even if you don’t realize it), you can set up your CRM to track every step from the first contact of a new lead to fulfillment.
Now you might be thinking, “I’m killing it. I trust my process and myself, and I don’t have to log it in the computer to stay on top of things.”
Okay, maybe for now. But what if you have 20 more clients? 100 more? Can you keep up with 500 leads?
You let stuff fall through the cracks if you’re not logging your interactions and noting your next steps. We’re all fallible; everybody forgets things. It may only be little things and infrequently, but it’ll start to add up if you keep letting it happen.
I am willing to bet that you have forgotten to send an email, failed to ask a necessary qualifying question, or missed a crucial follow-up. It happens to everybody. Well, it happens to everybody before they start using a CRM. (Not that CRMs will solve all your problems, but it’s close.)
Your CRM lets you check a box and make notes every time you complete another step in your process. That leads to better-qualified clients, more closed deals, and less follow-up.
Your CRM Helps Your Business
CRMs aren’t just for you, the salesperson, either. They help your company forecast for the future. It helps in training new salespeople about what their expectations are and what process they should use.
If you have a system for working both cold and warm leads, which you should, you need to keep up with where each prospect is in the sales process.
This practice highlights precisely how long your average sales cycle is, from the first contact with a prospect to fulfillment. When both you and your sales manager know that length of time, realistic expectations are easier to set.
Mapping out every detail about what should happen, from finding and identifying a lead to fulfilling the closed deal, will help your business run more smoothly and allow your sales team to create more success.
On top of that, when you clearly outline your process, you can document where deals or parts of the process fall off.
And this is where your CRM really comes in handy.
Adapting and Improving Your Process
You’ve got your process on paper and incorporated it into your CRM. Now you can pinpoint the pieces of the puzzle that are still missing for more sales or a smoother process.
For example, if you’re consistently missing a qualifying question, such as asking if anybody else is involved in the decision-making process, you’ll notice a trend quickly when several deals have fallen through because the “partner wants to go a different way.”
Once you’ve noticed that, you’re able to go back, rethink your process, and add additional steps that will close this gap.
Your CRM System Gives You the Benefit of Visibility
Both you and your manager/company would probably feel more comfortable knowing you’re on track to hit quota or make the amount of money you need to make.
If you’re not on track, the sooner you know, the more quickly you can act. Gather more leads, make more calls, follow up with your “maybes.” Whatever you have to do, knowing where you are for the month gives you time to do it.
Whether or not you’re working commission-only, knowing where you are for the month can be an enormous benefit of a CRM system for both you and your manager.
Visibility of what you’re doing is another one of the biggest benefits of a CRM system.
Even if you can’t close enough deals, your manager will see that you’re putting in the work and following the process if everything is in your CRM.
A quota or spreadsheet isn’t enough. It might show what you’re bringing in in terms of dollar amount, but it doesn’t really show what you’re doing to get there. Your CRM tracks everything, and it lets you know if you’re on the right track. Or why you might fail.
The Benefits of a CRM System Outweigh the Challenges
Yes, change is hard. Incorporating a new system takes a little time at first. And then, you have to build the habit of using it, which can be challenging for a bit. But the benefits of a CRM system, both financial and mental, far outweigh the initial time spent setting it up.
You’ll see more sales, and you and your team will have less stress when everything is documented for everybody to see. No more steps falling in the cracks, no more angry emails from prospects waiting on an answer, and no more sales managers berating you for not working hard enough to hit your quota.
And yes, some companies use inefficient proprietary CRMs that don’t seem to add a lot of value to your sales process. It just seems like another box the company is forcing you to check.
If you’re in that situation, talk to your sales manager. There are endless CRM choices right now. Working with a CRM consultant can help your business find the right one for your needs.
The majority of the most successful salespeople, teams, and sales managers use a CRM. Nobody should be expected to remember every single step in the process for every prospect without something to help keep them accountable.
If you’d like to know more about how using a CRM tool will help you hit quota easier and close more deals, let’s chat.
Top Photo by Firmbee.com on Unsplash