Customer relationships management (CRM) systems have expanded quite drastically since 1999 when Salesforce.com broke into the market, making CRMs available to nearly everyone. Prior to Salesforce.com the CRM world was dominated by Siebel Systems, the leading provider of enterprise-level sales CRM tools. If Salesforce.com revolutionized the CRM industry, it’s only because Siebel created the industry, making a CRM a must-have for large sales and marketing organizations. Both Siebel and Salesforce have made the cataloguing of sales activities, opportunity pipelines, and even marketing activities a norm across nearly every organization, and allowed for the entrance of many newer CRMs, such as Pipedrive, HubSpot CRM, ZOHO, and many more.
The explosion of the CRM market is not surprising, as the value it provides for sales and marketing professionals is undeniable. What is surprising, however, is that other departments are slow to adopt and access the CRM, despite the many benefits. The following points illustrate why each department needs to be in the CRM:
HR departments use a dozen (or more) different software and tools in their day-to-day activities. From human capital management to applicant tracking systems to goal tracking systems, and everything in between, HR professionals are saturated with systems and tools. So, why add another into the mix?
HR leaders must be aware of how their employees are performing at all times, from both a macro and micro perspective. Leaving performance management for quarterly or even yearly reviews is irresponsible. Routinely checking the CRM for leading performance indicators will arm HR with knowledge and data on employee performance.
Here is an example: let’s say you are responsible for HR in the Northeast region. You are friendly with the regional sales manager, Harry, and as far as you know, his performance has been up-to-par and he is well-liked by his peers, according to the peer reviews you conduct. However, unbeknownst to you, Harry has had stagnant pipeline growth as well as declining behavior and activity over the past 8 months. When the division manager, Jenny, comes to you and tells you that you need to let Harry go due to poor performance, you are shocked. This could have been avoided if you knew when and where to look in the CRM and could have helped Harry.
Understanding the CRM also helps HR with recruiting. If a candidate that HR is screening says they have CRM experience, is that enough? What happens if they pass the first round of screening only to be quickly rejected by the hiring department manager for insufficient knowledge of the CRM? How does that make HR look? The ability to better screen and filter candidates is imperative in order to gain trust from other departments.
Human resources does not need to “live” in the CRM, but they do need to understand it. Knowing where and how to pull performance data is an absolute must for HR, as proactively managing performance through the CRM is vital, especially for sales reps.
The best way to ensure proper use of the CRM is to get the Finance department in there. If they suspect that the organization is not getting its money’s worth, they will be the first to suggest cutting users or downgrading to a less expensive package. Train them up, show them how valuable it is, and expect little resistance from Finance when the time comes to upgrade or expand. Fail to get them involved and Finance can become a serious bottleneck for the CRM. Making Finance a supporter of the CRM is crucial to its success.
Additionally, Finance can become exceptionally self-serving when properly trained on the CRM. Show them where to pull reports for revenue projections, deal forecasts, and valuable customer data and they will never bug a rep or CRM admin again. This also ensures that the data they are using for financial decision making is as real-time as possible.
Finance will also benefit from having sales rep activities logged in the CRM. Expense reports are a sore topic for every organization, but the Finance department can monitor appropriate spending via the CRM by quickly reviewing if a specific client has no open deals, limited sales activity on the account, and hasn’t been modified in quite some time. This helps Finance stay better informed on whether or not the expense is legitimately helping the business.
Who owns the CRM? In some cases, IT is the owner of the CRM; however, in most cases they are not. There is often a mixture of sales and marketing team members that own the CRM. This can be a very dangerous scenario because if the IT department becomes isolated, you will run the risk of the CRM becoming an island. You can still put the data in the CRM, but without the proper integration, you will not be able to do much with it outside of the CRM.
Conversely, IT will benefit from diving into the data that lives within the CRM, and engineering how to utilize that data for process improvement across the CRM and other systems. It’s not unusual that a sales rep needs to enter new customer information across many different systems, such as the CRM, a billing and invoicing system, and a fulfillment system. If IT can integrate these systems and save the company time, they will be seen as heroes by both management and front-line employees.
Operations & Customer Success
Traditionally, CRMs have been seen as a “pre-sale” system. As soon as an opportunity is marked “closed won” and the sale is closed the CRM becomes an afterthought. As Account Managers, Operations, and Customer Success get involved and sales reps remove themselves from the account, activities and communications are often logged elsewhere, or not logged at all. This not only leaves holes in the account, but it also makes it difficult for employees that are new to the account to be brought up to speed quickly. Ensuring that all communications are logged, and using tools like Chatter in Salesforce to have dialogue on a specific contact or account allows for clearer transparency and understanding.
Fulfillment can also benefit from looking at the CRM. With all the customer and order data centrally located in the CRM, fulfillment and sales can ensure they are on the same page. Nothing will get lost in the paper shuffle, and customers will undoubtedly receive better service.
Sales and marketing departments should live in the CRM on a daily basis, but they are not the only employees that must access the system. CRMs have grown over the years to include much more than customer data and sales figures, effectively becoming an ecosystem that an entire organization can utilize and benefit from.
If you’re struggling with the optimization or adoption of your CRM, or worse, you do not use a CRM, please feel free to request a consultation.