It can be amply demonstrated that return on investment (ROI) for CRM should first and foremost be reflective of sale rep use of the product. If a CRM solution does not empower salespeople and is not being utilized by them, its ROI is going to be severely reduced.
But it is also true that a case must be made for CRM return on investment in other areas of the company—as these areas will also be using the CRM application, will be required to enter data into it, and should be able to make use of CRM data for their own functions.
It is crucial that management—including, of course, sales management—be able to smoothly interact with a CRM solution. When they cannot (or, worse, when they can but all the needed information isn’t there) valuable time can be wasted chasing up needed information for analysis and forecasts. That added time cuts right across the ability of the company to accurately forecast sales, to properly manage and direct personnel, and make strong forward progress as an enterprise. It also eats up sales rep time as when management can easily and profitably utilize CRM, this time is saved. Accurate forecasts are made. Analyses are rapidly completed. Salespeople are free to sell. And most importantly the ROI for executives and managers is quite evident.salespeople must be constantly reporting information that should be easily available right from CRM.
Marketing obviously has a very important mission: to attract attention to—and create interest in—a company’s products or services. Without them, sales has no leads to cultivate. It is also up to marketing to discover ways to keep customers interested in the company’s line of products or services once they have purchased. That is, how can we get them to buy more?
Marketing can greatly benefit from a flexible, intuitive CRM. They can observe who exactly is purchasing, from what industry, from what demographic, and in what quantity. If marketing can observe sales in each stage of the sales process (a function that a CRM solution should be able to deliver as a first priority) they can evolve campaigns that will assist sales to proceed more rapidly through the pipeline.
When marketing cannot do these things, it—like the executives—must operate with a measure of guesswork. Not only is guesswork the worst enemy of marketing, it is also the worst enemy of a company’s future expansion. Guesses can be wrong; precise, available data will make one right every time.
Marketing functions should always be taken into account when evaluating ROI for a potential CRM solution.
Financial officers within a company are looked to as administrative fortune-tellers. They must create detailed financial projections that important company stakeholders—such as board members and investors—will utilize in making strategic company decisions. Sales is the key element in such forecasts, as they are the primary metric that will tell the tale of profit or loss. Projections will be accurate in direct ratio to the usability of, and information availability from, a CRM solution.
In this case, the ROI from an intuitive, flexible CRM solution cannot be overestimated.
Customer Service and Tech Support
It must be possible for any customer service or tech support action taken to be recorded in CRM so that sales and other areas will remain informed of prospective or existing customer status. It is also vital that both these areas be able to easily access CRM information for a customer’s previous interactions with the company. When any of these possibilities are absent, the company is at risk of “tripping over its own feet” in any contact with a customer. Have you yourself ever received a call from a company that is trying to sell you a new product or service, or upgrade you to a new version—when the person calling was blissfully unaware of a complaint you had just lodged? Omissions similar to this can drastically reduce your ROI.
Any ROI evaluation must fully take into account its usefulness to customer service and tech support.
It is probably unheard of for a CRM solution to be evaluated as to its usefulness to Product Development or R&D. But when plentiful data of the right sort is entered into CRM, and that data can be easily located and summarized, Product Development and/or R&D can gather information that points to improvements, upgrades, new versions and even new products.
While CRM return on investment must first and foremost be evaluated for sales, make sure you take into account any other department or area of the company that will be affected as well. CRM accuracy, as you can see, more than equals company profitability and expansion.
Stay tuned for further articles in our series on CRM and return on investment.