Using CRM to Gain Collective Market Intelligence and Strategic Advantage

CRM is about information and learning. If you use it right it is a flow of information that ties your organization together. When it is done right you don’t feel it. It just works.In a recent article I discussed challenges companies typically face when implementing CRM – everything from lack of strategy to lack of user buy in and disengaged management. This article will flip that around and address what happens when you do CRM right and what you need to do to get there. It’s all about the “d” – for discipline that is Done correctly, CRM is about discipline – the discipline to record key information about customers and prospects, to analyze and interpret that information and to act upon what you have learned. It’s also about results – about having real-time data at your fingertips and being able to move on a dime if you notice things are trending in a new direction. In short, CRM done right is less about the system itself and more about how you use it. Oftentimes small to mid-sized businesses fail to capture the information they need within the system and those that do capture it aren’t sure what to do with it. So, what should you be doing?

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Creating a territory management plan and mapping your CRM activities to support it.
Consistently entering all relevant customer and prospect data into the system.
Consistently reviewing and tracking opportunities in the pipeline.
Qualifying and segmenting your prospect lists and marketing to them according to their status.
Working to understand (and recording) your prospects “drivers” – industry trends, pain points, buying process, etc.
Recognizing patterns (of need, objections, etc.) and adjusting your marketing message or business strategy to address the needs of the market.
Extracting key data to facilitate integrated marketing programs to very targeted prospects.
Tracking and measuring results and refining and revisiting processes regularly.
When you have these pieces in place, you are in a much better position to rally and work as a team to acquire new business. Knowledge is power CRM professional, Matt Keenan recently wrote a blog post entitled, A Sales Pipeline Primer in which he suggested that every sales organization track the following five metrics: Value, Volume, Velocity, Conversion and Win Rate. “In order to drive success in CRM,” he wrote, “you need to have the data, the process and the reports that allow these metrics to be generated on demand.” Tracking these metrics will enable you to see where you are falling short in your sales effort, identify areas of improvement and areas of strength and react in a timely fashion. For example, if you see that deals are taking too long to move through the pipeline, it might be time to review your processes to see where you can increase efficiencies. If you note that your conversion rates are low, you might want to revisit your lead generation methods to find something that produces higher quality leads. If you see that value or volume is low, it’s time to ramp up the sales effort. It all comes back to leadership Effective leadership is essential. Set expectations for using the system, create a culture of knowledge acquisition and sharing, ensure the right systems are in place and hold people accountable for adhering to them.