Optimizing CRM – Part 3 of the “23 Tips Series”

This is the third part of a series designed to help set up and manage a CRM to produce better results. Far too many organizations don’t reach the full potential when it comes to their CRMs.

In this instalment, we’ll focus on optimizing CRM. The next 5 tips will help your system run smoother and encourage you to take advantage of some powerful features. if you want to review the first two parts of the series before continuing, they are Part 1: Strategic Factors; and Part 2: Making CRM Easier to Use. By using these proven tips, you will get a faster ROI on your investment, and significantly increase sales and marketing productivity. Here’s a quick re-cap of the ideas presented in Parts 1 and 2 of the series:

1. Gain Executive Buy-In
2. Create a Plan
3. Build it for Users
4. Training & Support
5. Mandate Adoption

6. Communicate Results
7. Minimize Fields
8. Customize Layouts
9. Minimize Required Fields
10. Simplify Leads

11. Automate Formats
12. Simplify Field Names
13. Use Help Buttons
14. Make it Mobile

Optimizing CRM for Best Results

#15 Segment with Precision: This is one of the most important “must-do” first steps in optimizing CRM. Whether you’re running marketing campaigns, communicating with clients, or using sales reporting, you must divide and tag your clients, prospects, and partners into well-defined segments. A major benefit of CRM is its ability to slice and dice a large database to communicate with, or track, a specific target audience. This should be done as soon as CRM has been set up and before you start importing account lists. As an example, usually there is an “Account Type” record in the CRM. Use this field to divide your accounts into groups such as Customers, Prospects, Partners, Vendors, and Competitors. You will likely want to further divide certain groups into sub-segments for easier isolation. Customers should have a field defining whether or not the client is Active, Inactive, Former, etc. The bottom line is that the more you segment and sub-segment your account records, the easier it is to manipulate the data you want. This provides better list management, targeting, and visibility. It obviously takes some time and effort up-front. But, if you do this properly, your CRM will serve you well.

#16 Leverage Reports: Customizing the reports you’ll use should be an immediate priority. Ideally, CRM reports should be the only “voice of truth” when it comes to managing your sales and marketing activities – so lose the spreadsheets once and for all! I would suggest you train a couple people to become “report experts” – they’ll be able to fine-tune the key reports you’ll need to make CRM a success. There are usually many pre-made reports included in your CRM. However, you will need to tailor them, or create new ones to suit your specific needs. It’s important to think carefully about reports. Make sure they are user-friendly and only contain the information needed for the intended purpose. Pipelines reports, forecasts, marketing analytics and other outputs are fundamental tools for driving your business forward through CRM.

#17 Keep Data Clean: A common issue with many CRMs is the build up of “dirty data.” Duplicate records and poorly designed account relationships being the major culprits. If your CRM doesn’t tell you an account is similar to the one you are about to save, you need to train people to check for variations before they create, or import new accounts. Whether it’s duplicate accounts or other data integrity issues, you need to keep your CRM clean. A good practice is to have a scheduled process to “sweep” your data for duplicates, and inaccuracies. Most CRMs have features that will help with this.

#18 Standardize Data: It may seem trivial to some, but I have found that creating standard data formats will help avoid confusion and messy reporting. Paying attention to the detail from the beginning will save you time later. It’s best to create standards for date formats, state/province, and country abbreviations address formats, company name suffixes, and so on. Using CRM-supplied options can help with some of this and it’s usually easy to customize fields to follow a specific format. Some, however, may need to be taught and manually applied, or mass corrected as part of your data management process discussed above. Ideally, you should standardize at the corporate level so all your systems look (and possibly exchange) this type of data in the same formats.

#19 Automate Tasks: Today’s more robust CRMs let you automate repetitive tasks. It’s beyond our scope here to dig too deep, but one of your team members should take the time to understand and implement this functionality. You can gain huge savings in time and increased productivity. For example, you can “program” your CRM to close, create or modify records when certain conditions are met. Another great function is the ability to trigger email notifications to any CRM user when a variety of different conditions are met. For example:

  • when a lead converts to a qualified opportunity
  • when the sales cycle reaches a certain stage
  • when a deal closes and action is required
  • when a prospect fills out a web form or subscribes to your newsletter
  • When certain numeric thresholds are reached or exceeded
  • When activity due dates are close, or past due

These a just a few illustrations of the many time-saving and communication benefits available with CRM automation. I hope you have found some of these ideas helpful. Optimizing CRM takes some work to get the most out of it. But, the experience I’ve had, along with many others, is that if you do it right – the impact on your revenue far exceeds the effort!

If you are so inclined, please share any thoughts or experiences you may have on this topic. Contact us if we can help in any way with your CRM project, or at least point you in the right direction. Subscribe? If you enjoyed this post and would like to receive notification of future Think2Grow blogs and newsletters, simply fill in the subscribe section on the sidebar above. To follow us on your favorite social feed, select it below.

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