Every time I join a conversation about CRM, I find myself emphasizing that it is not just a tool but a process.
There are various CRM platforms available, ranging from feature-rich options to plug-and-play solutions with free or trial versions.
They all promise to solve all our company’s sales-related issues and assure us that they will make our sales skyrocket.
However, reality often tells a different story. When it comes to implementing a software, I have identified two types of companies:
1. Companies that firmly believe technology can solve all their problems.
These companies typically opt for the market-leading platform, attracted by its market position and extensive feature set.
Unfortunately, many of these companies end up not fully utilizing the software due to its complexity and the abundance of tools.
Salespeople often object, saying, ‘We either sell or update the platform; we prefer to focus on sales.’
2. Companies that are afraid CRM will become just another tool that nobody will use.
This group is already aware of the potential pitfalls of getting lost in features and decides not to implement any system.
The root cause of these two extreme groups is the misconception that CRM is seen merely as software, rather than a holistic process. And, of course, there are companies in between seeking guidance.
CRM is a process, not merely a tool.
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, where ‘management‘ goes far beyond a software tool, especially when dealing with relationships. The software used to structure CRM is only a small part of the entire process.
To effectively structure a CRM, the first step is to understand the current situation and the objectives.
This analysis will provide insights into the most suitable software for our specific needs.
For instance, in a niche market with a limited number of companies and contacts (e.g., fewer than 3,000), automation features may not be a top priority.
However, in other scenarios, where the goal is to expand your base of leads, a more complex CRM system that automates communication may be justified.
Key CRM Features:
The type of software required depends on the company’s situation and strategy. I recommend that a CRM system should include a few key features to keep things simple:
- A visual representation of the sales pipeline (sales funnel) with all funnel stages.
- Task management, including assigning responsibilities, setting due dates, and providing task descriptions.
- Reports to display results for each vendor, product, and pipeline.
- The ability to leave notes for each opportunity created.
It might be surprising to know that you can find a software with these features for free or at a very low cost.
Integrating CRM with Project Management Software
If your company is already using project management software like Asana, Bitrix, Trello, etc, consider structuring and testing a basic CRM within the project management software environment.
This approach won’t add additional costs, and your team will find it easy to implement since they’re already familiar with the software.
Once everyone is comfortable with the CRM process, you can explore options for more advanced features.
The key point here is that transitioning from no CRM to an extremely sophisticated one requires a thoughtful strategy.
“Any transformation, whether digital or operational, is primarily a cultural transformation that demands time and adaptation strategies.”