Making your CRM work for you

Making your CRM work for you

We've all got them, but do we use them properly?

Yes, it's the good old Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.

But for most, they're a glorified digital Rolodex that tracks sales opportunities. Maybe you use them to track customer interactions because you've synced your mail server, and yes, you've probably tried to generate a pipeline report or two.

However, the real question is whether your CRM setup is driving your sales engine forward, pushing to hit your sales target and whether it is specifically tailored to your sales process.

Not every business operates identically or follows the same processes, which means the utility of a CRM can vary significantly. But, when correctly integrated into your ways of working, a CRM can totally transform the way you nurture and close and significantly impact your bottom line.

But are you there yet? No? Read on.

What you should do about it

The issue with CRM systems is usually not the technology or tools themselves but rather the data input. As with everything, S**t in equals S**t out, especially regarding your CRM data and its impact on any automation you may be doing or planning.

Data aside, the sales process and supporting the design of your sales funnel could be the underlying problem affecting your CRM's effectiveness.

So, the first thing to consider is whether my business is set up right.

Let's unpack that a little.

Getting your sales stages right.

A common shortfall in any CRM implementation is the lack of correctly defined sales stages.

Most businesses don't have enough stages in their process to give the granularity of your data to make it valuable and actionable. That means ensuring you can clearly see what data sits in which stage of the funnel, which brings meaningful control of your pipeline and every single opportunity.

Breaking down your sales process like this is essential to staying nimble and in control. Don't be afraid to redefine it and ensure that you're always challenging yourself on what the distinct stages are from the top-of-funnel and inbound prospects down through nurturing to close.

Without sufficient granularity, you risk becoming data-blind and unable to make informed decisions based on your sales data.

Using automation sensibly.

While automation can streamline specific aspects of the sales process, especially for dormant or on-hold opportunities, over-automation can lead to pitfalls. Personal follow-up is irreplaceable, and you should build this time into your sales process so that it is clearly allocated for this critical activity for every person in the sales engine.

The use of automation should enhance efficiency without replacing the human touch essential for closing deals. However, it can exponentially increase your reach and impact.

Again, if you don't have the granularity of your sales stages, then automation can hurt you rather than help.

Clever integrations.

Smart CRM integrations are crucial and often underutilised. Both inbound and outbound sales efforts should seamlessly feed into the CRM, minimising manual data entry. Integrating lead funnels, Eventbrite, and other channels directly into the CRM can drive pipeline growth and facilitate post-event engagement through targeted automation.

Revenue recognition and nimble forecasting.

Unfortunately, most CRM systems rarely effectively address revenue recognition and sales forecasting without significant customisation.

Despite this, maintaining a clear Revenue Recognition forecast outside the CRM is advisable. I always have and still keep a highly customisable forecast Sheet, which allows for more accurate Revenue Recognition forecasting, sales targeting, and strategic decision-making, enhancing control over sales outcomes.

Let's wrap this up.

To maximise the benefits of your CRM: 

  1. Start by assessing your sales process and the tool itself and get your sales stages right - there will be more than you think you need
  2. Cultivate a culture that prioritises CRM usage, ensuring it complements rather than complicates your sales reporting.
  3. Begin with simple automation and gradually scale up to avoid overwhelming your team and processes.

These steps allow you to transform your CRM from a basic organisational tool into a dynamic engine that drives sales growth and business success.

Back to blog