Does your organisation need CRM?

Look before you buy

Before an organisation decides to roll out a CRM system it should consider a few questions.

First, how do you know that your organisation really needs a CRM solution?

“If your organisation has poor prospect follow-up; if a lot of information is held only by individuals and there is no synchronised database; if there is lack of follow-up; a lack of business processes or a lack of compliance with processes, you should consider a CRM system to keep your clients and prospects close to you,” says John Biggs, CEO of Complete Solutions. The company is an Auckland-based provider of CRM, accounting, project-focused and process manufacturing systems.

Once an organisation has decided to go for CRM the next step is to choose a provider. “Make sure you choose a product that will be around in the future, to enhance the product and support you,” says Biggs. “Check the provider’s past work, and aim for minimum disruption.”

However, CRM has more to it than just buying and implementing the software — it is a whole business strategy that could involve staff training, modifying business processes, a need for IT services or possibly new hardware.

“The software is only a means to an end. The real driving force is the processes that you put around it,” Biggs says. “There has got to be a process and a consistent approach from the business to its customers. The software should be able to adapt to those processes and the slight variations between firms.” CRM touches most parts of a business because the customers touch most parts of a business, says Biggs.

“Customers touch sales, marketing, accounts, production and distribution, so the CRM solution has got to be able to capture all communication that comes into the organisation.”

This would help the organisation to address any customer-related issues, solve problems quickly and keep the customers loyal, Biggs says.

Rolling out a CRM system could be a significant financial investment for an organisation, depending on the maturity of the organisation, says Biggs. While some organisations have their own processes and just want to install and configure the software, others want the whole system, including documentation and procedures.

Usually CRM product vendors provide support as well, but many CRM packages allow organisations to take care of support themselves, says Biggs.

So what benefits should organisations expect from a CRM system? It should make sales cycles shorter, according to Biggs.

“If we can reduce the time to close a deal from 20 days down to 15 days, then we can get more productivity from the sales team,” he says.

Other benefits CRM should bring include better customer loyalty measured by repeat business and minimum disruption to customers when staff leave, says Biggs.

“How do you make sure a salesperson’s clients don’t fall off the radar when he or she leaves or is off sick? How do we pick these clients up and give them to the rest of the team?” asks Biggs. “The transitions can be very simple if there are processes in place.”

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