CRM And Sales Technology Have Changed In The Last Few Years; Is Your CRM Outdated?
You go to the doctor for your annual checkup. You take your car in for regular service. You have your insurance policies reviewed regularly, and you talk to your financial planner annually, too.
But how often do you review the state of your sales and marketing technology? Not frequently enough!
Today, there are over 10,000 marketing and sales technology tools. This is far too many for most of us to keep up with. The features, the tools, the reporting, the insights and the ability for these tools to help you drive revenue change every single day.
I’m not even talking about the advanced artificial intelligence (AI) stuff, like our new AI-powered insight and recommendation engine, MAXG. I’m just talking about the basic sales blocking and tackling support.
In many cases, software companies update their products weekly. So if you saw a demo of a customer relationship management (CRM) system last year, it’s likely changed dramatically since then. When was the last time you looked at other CRM options?
If you’re like most company leaders, changing your CRM system is like going to the dentist — it’s not something you want to do. But it might be time.
Take the quick quiz below and see how you stack up.
1. Does Everyone In Sales, Marketing And Leadership Use The CRM Daily?
If you don’t use it, the CRM has little or no value. If everyone isn’t using it regularly and correctly, the data in the CRM has little or no value. Everyone in sales, in marketing and at a leadership level should live in the CRM.
Honestly, some of this is cultural. This has to be a companywide initiative. When someone asks who is assigned to a particular client, I don’t tell them. Instead, I say, “It’s in the CRM.”
When someone wants to know if a prospect is going to close, I don’t tell them. Instead, I say, “It’s in the CRM.”
When someone wants to know if we sent a prospect a certain email, I say, “It’s in the CRM.”
Changing behavior is hard, and it needs to be something everyone is all-in on. If you do this correctly, it is impossible to go a single day without logging in and finding the information you’re looking for.
That information includes overall company sales performance, additional key metrics, comparisons between last month and this month, status on that big deal, updates on customers, referrals available and more. If you’re in sales, marketing or a leadership position, your CRM should be your go-to software resource. If it’s not, you have the wrong CRM.
If everyone in sales, marketing and revenue-related leadership is not actively using the CRM, you have to answer no to this question.
2. Are You Taking Advantage Of Every Feature?
Surprisingly, little data exists on what percentage of features are typically used at companies with enterprise-level software. However, we know empirically that no company uses all the features of any product, so clearly an issue exists in the software space around driving full value from the complete feature set.
CRM is no different. Most of the CRM products have features and functions that rarely get used. Did you know that you can record calls in HubSpot Sales CRM? Yep, you can make and record calls, use them for training purposes, use them to clarify conversations with prospects and use them to capture data on prospects.
However, very few people use this feature. Why? First, you should let your prospects know if you’re recording a call. That move is uncomfortable for a lot of reps. You also have to make the call from HubSpot, which means you need your laptop to work as a softphone (the technical term for using your PC as a phone), and you have to be willing to use those recordings to get better.
All very doable, but all outside of most people’s comfort zones, at least initially. Did you know that Salesforce.com has validation rules that can be put in place?
You want to make sure no bad data gets into your CRM, because this makes reporting and searching for data much harder. Validation rules determine whether the data entered into Salesforce is valid or not for a specific record. For example, let’s say every time a new opportunity is created, you want to know the lead source – we can create a rule to make sure this is filled in every time.
No matter what CRM you’re using, see if you’re using the full feature set. If you’re not, answer no to this question, and dig into why you’re not using all of the features.
3. Does It Provide Insight Into Your Sales Performance?
Most people think CRM is designed to collect information on your prospects and customers.
Your CRM’s main purpose is to help you improve the performance of your sales team by shining a light on opportunities, process improvements and efficiencies that help reps do more in the same amount of time.
Do you get insights into how your sales team is performing? Do you have dashboards set up? Do you have someone looking at those dashboards and providing ideas on how to accelerate pipeline velocity, close more deals or shorten the sales cycle?
I want to be clear that this is not about dashboards. It’s about the analytics that present insights. Dashboards without insights and the recommendations that go with them are useless. There is no reason to track key performance indicators (KPIs) if you don’t make the necessary changes to improve them.
If you’re getting insights from your CRM, you can answer this question with a yes.
4. Does It Help Align Marketing And Sales Efforts So Prospects Have A Seamless Experience?
Today, if you don’t have marketing and sales perfectly aligned, you’re running revenue growth with one arm tied behind your back. It’s no longer optional; it’s 100% mandatory. If you’re not sure, click here to read more about aligning your marketing and sales teams.
Your CRM should be providing data on the joint revenue goals associated with an aligned sales and marketing team. It should also help answer questions in areas that typically keep marketing and sales arguing, including the quality of the leads, the number of marketing-qualified leads vs. sales-qualified leads and the revenue from marketing-generated leads.
CRM data shines a light on what typically caused the biggest arguments between marketing and sales. For example, marketing generates bad leads, and sales never follows up on the leads marketing generates. That all goes away when you use your CRM correctly.
To answer this question, here are some boxes you’d need to check:
- Do the marketing and sales teams have common revenue-related goals they’re working toward?
- Do they meet regularly (at least once a week) to plan their approach to hitting the company’s revenue goals?
- Is an SLA (service-level agreement) in place?
- Is there a closed loop on feedback that allows sales to flow feedback to marketing for improving the quality of leads, and is marketing giving feedback to sales to help them close more leads?
If you have to answer no to any of these questions, you should answer no to this question, too.
5. Does It Help Reps Improve The Prospect Experience?
It’s about the experience, silly. It’s true. Today, it all comes back to the experience your prospects are getting with your company. That experience starts with marketing touches, moves to sales touches and ultimately goes to customer service touches, which should fuel a positive experience, reviews, references and referrals.
However, if the goal of marketing and sales is to deliver a remarkable experience for prospects, then your CRM needs to be the tool that helps sales do just that.
It needs to have each stage of your prospect’s buyer journey mapped out and identified. It needs to provide your reps with email templates and content for delivery in context to their specific conversations. This ensures that, regardless of rep, your prospects are getting the desired experience, hearing the right stories and feeling the emotions you want them to feel.
Remember, people make purchase decisions emotionally. Your goal is to create those emotions in the marketing and sales execution.
If you’re not leveraging the power of your CRM to ensure that consistent, compelling and emotional experience for all of your prospects, you have to give yourself a no to question number five.
6. Is The Tool Constantly Upgraded And Updated By The Provider?
This is an easy question if you’re using any of the SaaS-based products. Any product that runs on the web is usually updated by the provider on a regular basis (in some cases, weekly).
But we still see a lot of clients using older legacy systems that might have been custom-built for them five or six years ago. This includes industry CRM systems that are web-based but maintained by companies that are ill-equipped to ship regular updates. You might even be using a free product that could be susceptible to hacking or security breaches.
I think for most people, this is going to be a yes. But since we see so many of these homegrown systems, we need to ask this question, and you need to provide an honest answer.
7. Does It Easily Integrate Or Connect With Other Tools?
Believe it or not, a couple of hundred SaaS-based CRM options exist, and over 9,000 more sales tech tools are available to plug in, talk to and integrate with your CRM. These tools help with proposals, prospect nurture, reporting, prioritization, content creation, personalization and more.
Does your CRM easily work with other software tools, or are there complex middleware requirements, additional programming expenses or upgrades to the level of license you purchased? Maybe your existing system doesn’t integrate with any of the newer sales optimization tools.
Over the next few years, you will be building your sales operations tech stack, just like you’re in the process of building your marketing tech stack. Marketing automation and CRM will both be the backbone of your tech stacks, but you will likely want to add other products with different features to make your sale engine hum.
You want a CRM platform that easily plugs and plays with other sales software tools. If you have that now, give your company a big, healthy yes for this question. Better yet, a CRM with an active app store provides even more flexibility to create the perfect tech stack for your sales effort.
8. Does It Make Your Reps’ Day-To-Day Work Easier?
The first real CRM came to market in the mid-1980s in the form of ACT. As an article from FinancesOnline.com explains, it was “the Cro-Magnon of CRM with recognizable modern but basic features that paved the way for client/server architecture during the PC revolution into the late [1980s]. Companies had to invest large sums of money to manage [an] on-premises model, employing an in-house IT staff and buying capital-intensive hardware and software to manage CRM.”
My first job included giving me a tower PC and shipping me tapes that included customer data. Those tapes were loaded into my tap drive.
The goal of CRM back then was similar to the goal today: Provide reps with information to make their jobs easier. It was not to police them, provide oversight or monitor their activities. It was to push customer and prospect data as close to the actual prospect as possible.
By arming reps with information and having them capture as much information as possible, we wanted to make their jobs easier, not more complicated. I don’t think that story was ever properly rolled out to reps. Even today, reps look at the CRM as a way for management to keep tabs on them.
Today, the best CRMs do make a rep’s job easier. Some auto-populate information to limit the amount of data entry. Some add tasks to keep reps organized. Others help automate follow-up and prioritize opportunities with advances analytics. Again, the promise of CRM is to make the sales cycle move faster, to make the reps more efficient and to help you increase your close rate.
If you think your CRM is making your reps’ jobs easier, give yourself a big yes for question number eight.
9. Is Revenue Improving Month Over Month?
It’s the $1 million question, right? Why have a CRM if it’s not helping you improve your ability to hit revenue goals?
While your CRM might not be the sole driver for month-over-month revenue growth, it’s a major piece of the puzzle. People and process are the other big puzzle pieces. Do you have the right people executing your sales strategy, and do you have the right process for your prospects, in your industry, with your set of solutions (products and/or services)?
What your CRM should be doing is ensuring your data is accurate, comprehensive and synced across your entire enterprise. Clean data like this opens a number of important doors that otherwise would remain closed.
First, personalization. Data allows you to deliver a highly personalized prospect and customer buyer journey. It allows your reps to deliver education and content in context to your prospects’ and customers’ challenges.
Next, insight. You get a global view of exactly what’s happening with your prospects and customers. Who is touching them? What information is being shared? What do they need and what questions are they asking? Most importantly, their buyer journey is tracked, including what they might be talking about outside of your process.
Finally, data. Turning what had been an art into a science means it can be tracked, monitored and optimized based on data instead of intuition, opinion or past experiences. You get a quantitative view of exactly how long your sales process takes, your close rate, key conversion rates during the buyer journey, individual rep performance within your sales process and the performance of key assets like content or emails.
Armed with this data, you can make proactive decisions on how to improve your marketing and sales execution. It’s this optimization and iteration that drives the month-over-month revenue growth you’ve been searching for, and it’s the CRM that gives you the information you need to fuel this optimization.
10. Do You Have Internal Or External Experts To Help You?
Getting full value from your CRM can be challenging. In many cases, it’s similar to learning a new language or improving your golf game. Generally, you’ll see better results if you have someone helping you improve.
In some cases, companies hire internally for this skill. In other cases, they contract out this skillset.
Regardless, technology is such an integral part of delivering a highly personalized and educational buyer journey that adding expertise to your team (internal or external) allows you to move faster, see results sooner and expect better results.
A wide range of customization options are available when it comes to CRM and other MarTech/sales tech tools. Knowing what can be customized, building the customization, testing it and keeping it working correctly is a full-time set of responsibilities.
Today, it’s part of sales operations and requires ongoing attention. The regular iteration, the ongoing optimization and the constantly changing buyer journey mean your CRM and its upkeep are strategic components of your revenue generation machine.
Now that you’ve worked through your assessment, let’s see how you did.
Scoring Your Answers
This simple 10-question quiz, with yes or no answers, is only going to be a starting point for most of you. It’s likely that you’ll need a much deeper dive to know for sure if your CRM is in desperate need of replacing or upgrading.
Give your company one point for every yes answer and no points for every no answer.
Companies that scored a 9 or a 10: You’re clearly killing it with your current CRM and are in no need of any immediate action. Keep doing what you’re doing. In fact, you could probably teach a class on how to use a CRM to drive revenue.
Companies that scored a 7 or an 8: You’re doing well, but there might be some room for improvement. An audit of the CRM and the processes associated with how you use it would likely uncover some areas where training or process improvement could improve results.
Companies that scored a 5 or a 6: Significant issues need your attention. It’s likely that you’ve outgrown your current system but continue to use it because changing seems too hard. It’s also likely there are rampant challenges in your process, your data might be inaccurate and you’re not getting even close to full value for what you’re paying to use the CRM. It’s time for a change.
Companies that scored a 4 or below: If you’re answering no this often to basic questions, your situation is grave. No company can operate successfully in this range. You need to consider a change immediately. Start looking at new CRM systems, talk to CRM experts, review CRM software online and start getting educated on the options available to you.
Your Next Steps
As we said above, software alone won’t change you from an underperforming sales organization to a high-flying one. Results come from people, processes and tools. Swapping out CRM systems takes thought, planning, expertise and time.
If this is something you need, the sooner you start, the sooner you emerge from your current state and into your future state. Consider the sales execution assessment offered below. It will provide more information and education on areas of your sales effort that could drive improvement.
Now that you know your situation, you can take action. In some cases, this might even save you money. Don’t wait any longer.
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Posted By Author Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist
Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.