Sales leaders looking to boost sales with an investment in CRM software face a challenge.
Here’s the crux of the problem: Every departmental manager wishes they had more resources. Extra head count, superior equipment, new software—investment opportunities come in many forms. Top executives must decide between a huge array of possible funding options. How can sales leaders make sure their CRM investment request is a priority?
Departmental managers arguing the merits of their proposal often gravitate to ROI-based arguments. But ROI arguments alone won’t differentiate a project. Others in the organization will make them as well.
Any manager with a pet project can hunt down impressive ROI stats. (To be fair, in this regard sales leaders do have a bit of advantage. ROI-related CRM stats are particularly abundant. A couple recent examples: One study reported a $8.71 payback for every dollar spent on CRM software. Another documented a 41% revenue increase per CRM-enabled sales rep.)
What really distinguishes an investment proposal, though, is when it resonates with established executive goals.
An ability to make concrete the many ways in which software can accelerate the achievement of company goals can help assure the approval of a CRM purchase.
Of course, every organization’s goals will vary. But driving revenue growth is never missing from the list. CRM software supports many of the key initiatives likely to be at the top of the agenda for the customer-focused business leader.
1. Identification of the ideal customer
Every business leader has a general idea of who their company’s ideal customer is. But pinning down this general sense into something more specific has major advantages. An executive provided with a concrete definition of the ideal customer can:
- Wisely guide advertising spending,
- Make informed branding decisions,
- Focus business development work, and
- Make sure that sales resources are applied to the right prospects
At the heart of modern CRM software is a database that can record a wide range of customer attributes. Another core functionality is the ability to not only track customer interactions, but quantifiable results. The combination of these functionalities brings into sharp relief the picture of an ideal customer.
For example, knowing that businesses with 20-40 employees are twice as likely to buy your product as organizations with 1-19 is a powerful piece of information. Or, for another company, understanding that men spend three times as much overall on their product as women may be the key metric.
2. Capture of key issues affecting customers and prospects
It’s valuable to understand who your company’s target market it is. But it’s even more valuable to get a solid grasp on the main issues they’re facing.
Getting accurate insights into customer motivations offers obvious competitive advantages. But these insights can be difficult not only to come by, but also to communicate throughout your organization.
Front-line salespeople have unique access to discover your customers hopes and ambitions. A well-designed CRM that suggests, or perhaps even requires, salespeople to record customer answers to key probing questions encourages the gathering of this important information.
3. Accuracy in sales forecasting
Drilling down accurate sales forecasts is notoriously difficult. But without accurate sales forecasts, effective business planning suffers. Fundamental decisions about business expansion, resource allocation, and financial budgeting become uncertain propositions.
A reliable estimate of upcoming sales is one of the most powerful pieces of information a sales director can share with top decision-makers.
CRM software is well-suited to increasing the accuracy of sales forecasts. CRM software offers the ability to track the precise position of each prospect within the sales cycle in real-time. Historical data can be called upon to translate this data into a realistic forecast.
While sales forecasts from individuals may be colored by optimism and job performance pressure, hard data doesn’t suffer from this tendency.
4. Reinforcement of an effective and repeatable sales process
It takes time to figure out what works. It’s as true with the sales process as with any endeavor.
CRM software is more than a communication tool and a database for customer information. It’s also a mechanism to enable, reinforce, and share your company’s hard-won understanding of best practices.
There are many ways in which CRM software can support a repeatable sales process. Tried and true methods for overcoming common customer objections can be shared with new and experienced employees alike. Customer communication can be tested for effectiveness. Follow-up alerts can be automated to ensure optimally timed follow-up.
What’s the value of having all reps observing sales best practices? It’s a tough question to answer in the absence of capable CRM software. But the ability of CRM software to provide the answer is yet another benefit.
5. Deeper engagement with customers and prospects
How do customers feel about your products? What do they like? What do they have concerns about?
Today’s customers increasingly expect to be able to communicate on-demand and in the context they prefer. It’s a challenge to meet these expectations, but it also provides a chance to engage more frequently and deeply with clients.
The new generation of CRM software increasingly is providing solutions to capitalize on this opportunity. Social media integration capabilities are expanding the scope of the customer conversation that can be captured.
With more input on customer concerns, segmentation of customer groups provides a further opportunity to proactively address each groups key concerns.
For an overview of additional CRM benefits or to check out top CRM products, check out our guide to CRM software.