It can be hard to nail down the exact moment that an organization needs a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system for SFA (Sales Force Automation). Unfortunately, that conclusion is often reached too late, i.e. only after the loss of a revenue opportunity, a loss that could have been avoided if a CRM/SFA system was in place. So here are the top 10 signs to watch for to determine whether it’s time for your company to invest in
1. Leads fall through the cracks. These days, the last thing you can afford is to let the leads your marketing department generates — or that your sales reps gather through prospecting — lay fallow. But that’s exactly what happens at many companies because lead management and assignment is not properly automated. A CRM/SFA system allows you to route leads to the right rep — and make sure that the rep follows through with them.
2. Customer contacts change, and you don’t know it. In this economy, the people with buying authority may change frequently. When they leave one company, they may turn up at another. CRM helps you keep track of these changes and maintain contact.
3. Sales expectations grow. With fewer sales reps and more demands, the old ways of keeping track of contacts, appointments and sales notes just won’t scale. If you haven’t automated some of the basic tasks of
4. Sales managers can’t organize sales data. Without a way of quickly aggregating sales reps’ data, managers spend most of their time compiling reports rather than taking action . CRM/SFA systems allow them to assemble their reports faster and make it possible for them to examine data in ways they haven’t been able to in the past. The insights gained from accurate, dynamically updated stats provide managers with the tools to be more proactive in their response to sales challenges.
5. Team selling results in confusion. Team selling is a good idea, but keeping team members from stepping on each other’s toes or dropping the ball requires constant communication. A CRM system provides a central site for 360 degree communication. Sales reps and managers can see at a glance exactly where a customer is during the sales cycle.
6. Re-allocating sales assets becomes difficult. When sales managers make changes and reassign reps to new accounts, there tends to be limited or no time for those reps to transition. This makes some managers reluctant to make changes at all, even if they’re necessary. CRM allows reps to understand the intricacies of each customers quickly, eliminating that obstacle to
7. Disputes over compensation and territory. Sales reps are motivated by money, so it’s no surprise that compensation issues can arise. A CRM/SFA system organizes all compensation plans and policies in one place. The system will also automatically tally cumulative compensation for specific periods. Similarly, problems related to territory can be avoided. These tools allow managers to resolve any issues that do arise very quickly.
8. Meetings dominate sales reps’ time . Reps should be out selling, not sitting in a room with a sales manager taking notes. By gathering important data in one place — including internal sales department information — the need for meetings is significantly reduced and reps have more time in the field, pursuing and closing business. This means you can actually
9. Customers know their sales histories better than you do. Sales reps have to keep track of many customer relationships; customers have to keep track of just one, their own! A good CRM system prevents reps from walking into a situation without the knowledge they need to converse intelligently and prevents embarrassing situations before they happen.
10. Customer data goes into a sales black hole. Accurate, up-to-date customer information is critical for many departments within a company — marketing, product development and finance, to name a few. But if that data is being stored on individual computers, or worse yet, in paper files and on post it notes, it never becomes available to everyone who needs it. CRM is the centralized depository for critical data that is accessible to every single person in the company (on a password protected or rights basis as appropriate) 24/7.
While the above list focuses on the SFA (sales force automation) of CRM, it should be noted that CRM systems also address marketing automation and service management.