Free CRM Insider Secrets

By Stan Baldwin
Updated: August 25, 2011

Rest assured, every insider secret has been learned through painful, usually costly, experience. One definition of “secret” that seems particularly apt is “something revealed only to the initiated”. If these points were obvious, and some may seem to be, they wouldn't be secrets. Unfortunately a complete list would be far longer than we have room for here, but we'll try to hit some of the ones which impact the largest number of businesses.

If you don't know where you're going you won't get there.

Every CRM pro I've ever talked with has a story (usually many more than one) about how a client tried to put a new CRM solution in place without making a detailed list of what they wanted it to do. While it may gratify a persuasive sales rep when they convince a client company their CRM solution will solve all problems and make life better, the ways a decision made without comprehensive planning can go wrong are legion. Time and money not spent in preparation, when it would have done the most good, will be the down-payment on the recovery plan.

Don't proceed without C Suite buy-in

If you are the C Suite, great, things should go smoothly. Otherwise get one or more of the senior management team involved and supportive of the CRM effort. Besides providing air-cover for a significant expense, senior management can help make sure the right features are included and the entire organization is more likely to accept what is finally implemented.

Don't look to change staff behavior

At least don't expect to do so all at once or in major ways. To be effective the CRM system must be used every day, preferably to it's full capabilities. It must help the staff do their work better, easier, and maybe faster, or the investment in software and services will become no more than “shelfware”. It isn't necessarily obvious (secrets, remember?) but every CRM solution is the product of a philosophy of how CRM should be done. If that philosophy doesn't align with the philosophy and culture of your company, it will not produce the results desired.

“Over prepare” the staff

Spending time and money on intangibles is never all that satisfying. The temptation to do no more than the minimum in preparing the staff to use a CRM system can be hard to resist, especially when the numbers on the invoices from the training provider have more than four or five figures on the bottom line. Or it could seem attractive to train only the “critical” members of the staff, thereby cutting down on total preparation costs. To get the best results, involve everyone, and make sure they know not only how to use their part of the system, but how other departments use the information and functionality.

The biggest CRM “secret” is there is no easy or simple path to acquiring the best CRM tool for your company. Make the right investments of time and money, it will pay off.

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