When sales force automation—otherwise known as CRM —was first around, it meant quite an investment.
In addition to the CRM software solution, there was the requisite hardware, and extensive implementation and lengthy training ramp-ups. Computing the potential ROI (return on investment) was an interesting task, and using your computed ROI to make a compelling argument for purchase of needed hardware and software to senior management was even more interesting.
Today CRM costs are considerably lower. You can purchase a complete CRM solution for a fraction of what it once cost. There is no additional hardware needed—CRM can be provided on a SaaS (Software as a Service) basis through the cloud.
Due to these considerably reduced costs, it would seem that the question of rapid ROI has been solved—or has it? Taking a closer look, it will be found that evaluating CRM ROI is just as important as it ever was, perhaps even more so. It just has a different set of factors necessary for evaluation than it once did.
Skimp on Decision Now—Pay Handsomely Later
Because CRM solutions are today much cheaper and far more plentiful, it can be a temptation to simply pick one that seems to satisfy company needs for a decent price and put it in. There, CRM solved! It might be a year up the road before the horrible truth is realized by everyone involved: the company has lost an incredible amount of resources in wasted time, compensating for a solution that simply doesn’t satisfy company needs. By that time it is “too late” and the prevailing attitude becomes “We spent all this time and money on it and we have to make it work.”
For example, it is found that the data entered into CRM can be somewhat useful for sales management and other departments for coordination purposes. But it is of little value to the sales force, who must enter the lion’s share of the data with no return back to them in terms of help with their sales. Sales reps must cook up their own solutions for tracking their sales, such as individual spreadsheets and notes. Sales managers, not able to obtain all the information needed for analysis and forecasting, must consult with each of the reps individually or collectively to gather data not available in CRM.
So with the potentials of less costly CRM solutions and the lack of need for expensive hardware, there are other matters to be taken into account that will mean your company has purchased a true solution with positive ROI. And as a side note, it is never “too late” to make a decision that will put your sales force and company on the right path.
Sales Force Automation—ROI Considerations
Before purchasing a CRM solution, it is well worth investing considerable time researching out what the sales force and company really needs; the more such time invested up front, the more time and resources that will be saved up the road. There are of course general ROI goals for CRM, such as increased close rates, decreasing average time from lead to close, improving accuracy of forecasts and increasing customer satisfaction. But these and similar broad cost justifications can only be brought about if much deeper examination is taken.
This examination means looking at each group within the company that will be utilizing the CRM solution—starting with the sales force—and interviewing each of them as to their actual CRM needs. For example it will be found that sales reps need the empowerment of being able to rapidly view and analyze their own pipelines, and to have a rapid system of prioritizing leads, in-progress sales and even their calls for that day. Sales management will need the capacity to analyze the entire sales pipeline, as well as examine those of individual salespeople. Sales reps, sales managers and others in the company will have the requirement to perform rapid and accurate analyses and forecasts.
Take the time and energy to research the ROI objectives for your sales force automation (CRM solution) right at the beginning—and your future will be considerably brighter.
See our other articles on sales force and sales process automation.