Forty-four percent increased forecasting accuracy! Thirty-two percent increased sales productivity! Twenty-nine percent increased win rate! “Sounds fantastic. When can we start?” Oft said and promised before implementation, how do those original CRM promises hold up? For most sales organizations, not well. But for some companies, these numbers are real. Certain companies are achieving these results. Why?

CRM can provide the uplift promised – at the Alexander Group we’ve seen this with many of our clients, however, to do so requires a comprehensive approach. Research indicates that most organizations over-emphasize the technical solution and the sales process (the core), and underemphasize or ignore critical ties to sales strategy (front end) and sales management (back end). More specifically, initial CRM launches (or re-launches) usually focus on basic sales process design or confirmation, tailoring the interface, ensuring usability, and enabling mobile usage (i.e, buying iPads for every rep).

Resource Investment by CRM Focus Area

Here are a few key questions that must be addressed in order to realize true gains:

Customer Experience:

  • Have you integrated all aspects of your Customer Experience?
  • Beyond just a standardized sales process, have you thought about how marketing, delivery, and service will integrate into the CRM and, most importantly, utilize data outputs?
  • Integrating across the entire customer experience enables resources to better communicate internally, reduce redundant activities and drive higher customer satisfaction – increasing the value provided by the customer-facing team.

Sales Strategy:

  • Have you aligned your CRM to your over-arching sales and go-to-market strategy?
  • Does the data collected by your CRM system provide insight into how your sales strategy is being executed?
  • Does the information collected reflect the unique aspects of each sales team, or is it one size fits all?
  • Aligning your CRM to your growth strategy provides valuable insights to sales leaders into how the number is being achieved and if the desired sales strategy is working, not just sales activity and opportunity information.

Sales Management:

  • Have you created and aligned your sales management cadence to drive the CRM inspection process and ensure usage?
  • Do your CRM dashboards support your sales managers’ weekly, monthly and quarterly meetings with their reps?
  • Developing a standardized sales management process supported by your CRM system enables your front-line sales managers with the information they need to have meaningful and productive discussions with their sales reps that drive opportunity pursuit and action in the field.

Properly addressing all of the above questions ensures that your CRM program is relevant. Too often the quest to make CRM usable results in a loss of relevancy. Rather than realizing the desired ROI, many organizations have simply moved CRM from an ROI-based investment to a cost center. “55% to 75% of companies fail to meet the expected return on their CRM investments… (they) rush too quickly into large-scale, IT-based CRM investments” states Stan Maklan in Why CRM fails – and how to fix it (MIT Sloan Management Review).

How effective is your CRM program? Is it relevant to all the key stakeholders in sales, sales operations, sales leadership, marketing and finance? Or is it due for some critical updates, an overhaul, or a complete re-launch? Don’t let the promises of CRM turn up empty for your organization. Take a comprehensive approach and ensure the right strategic alignment and the right management practices are put in place. Doing so will increase adoption rates, provide more robust reporting and forecasting, and improve sales results.

To learn more about effective CRM practices, please contact the Alexander Group.
Co-written by Tom Murtaugh

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