When it comes to investing in digital tools for your business, figuring out where to put your money may seem difficult. Take customer relationship management (CRM) software tools, for example. A CRM investment is much harder to conceptualize than purchasing a new work vehicle or hiring an extra sales person, where you can easily see the connection between your investment and the return it generates. If you are not exactly sure about how a CRM investment will benefit your business, there is no way to know if it will be worth the money.
Though it may take more time, is is possible to treat digital infrastructure just like any other tool you would purchase for your business. In fact, it is a necessity. You must do the same kind of calculation to see if you would actually benefit from a CRM investment, like many businesses do nowadays.
If you have been considering a CRM investment but are not sure if it is worth the money, here are a few questions you need to ask:
- What is a CRM?
- What does a CRM do, and how does it work?
- How do I calculate whether or not a CRM investment is worth the investment?
- If it is a good investment, how do I make it work for my business?
All good questions – time to get started!
1. What is a CRM?
CRM stands for customer relationship management. A CRM system, by its very name, is a digital system for managing relationships with your customers. It allows you to organize all the information you have about them and their relationship with your business in a single place. It is also meant to help you strategically manage customer relationships in a process-oriented fashion.
2. What is a CRM supposed to do for my business? How does it work?
The CRM is supposed to help you execute your customer-centric processes – like sales, retention, upselling, and others– in an organized, systematic fashion. The goal is that with a well-organized CRM at hand, you will never miss the opportunity to reach out to a new lead or upsell a current customer. You will be more proactive, efficient, and accurate in your engagement with customers, and thereby improve your business.
Herein lies an important misconception about CRM (and the reason that more than half of CRM implementations fail on the first try). A CRM does not create these customer-centric processes for you. It only helps you manage the ones you already have.
Before any business commits to a CRM investment, it is key to examine the existing processes and make sure that either they are either up to speed or put them through a redesign before they become automated on any level.
This is an important step – make sure you spend as much time in the planning stage as you can. It is as important, or more, than implementation itself. And make sure to read our in-depth guide to CRM strategy here – this will help you determine a great strategy for your business.
3. How do I calculate whether or not the CRM is worth the investment?
After you have taken a good look at your current customer-centric processes, you will have a better idea of how effective they are. If you have discovered that your sales and retention strategies are airtight – everyone in your company follows up consistently every single time with their leads, and never forgets anything about their customer – then maybe you do not need a CRM. You feel sufficiently organized with spreadsheets as your primary tool, and you can find any information that you needed to about any customer at the drop of a hat. You should probably also write a book!
However, if you are like most of us, your sales process is not exactly where you want it to be. You may not know how many customers you have at any given time (or where each one is in the sales process), and you probably also miss opportunities for developing relationships and upselling, because keeping records on paper or in multiple systems requires more time than you have to spend.
Now, think about how things would be if you managed your customer relationships with a much higher degree of intention and accuracy. Do you think you would be making more money? How much? How does that increase compare to the cost of the CRM investment you are considering? If you are in the majority of business owners, you will see that the monthly cost of a CRM software service is nowhere near the benefits you could be reaping.
4. I think it would be worth my money to invest in a CRM. How do I choose which product to use?
By now, you have determined that your sales process could be even better with some organization. Where do you go from here?
There are so many CRMs to select from, so be sure to choose carefully. What is most important to you – flexibility? Scalability? Ease of use? Tons of features? It is a lot to think about – make sure you read our blog post on how to distinguish between the different types and pick the one that best fulfills your needs.
In addition to technological capabilities, one of the most important things to consider is the assistance you receive. When you make a CRM investment, you are paying for a service like any other. It is imperative to have good-quality support on the other end of the line when you have questions. There are many companies out there who provide amazing tools, but if you do not have an expert guiding you through the process—someone who knows your business from front to back and can help you make the most of the features you need—you may not be getting your money’s worth.
If support matters to you, make sure you check out Nextiva’s Service CRM. Nextiva is built around getting to know your business, learning what results you’re looking for, and then making it happen through our software. They can help keep you focused on your top priority – making your customers happy – by providing the support you need and deserve.
At Nextiva, we don’t believe in the fantasy of CRM as a magic fix for your business. We believe in the real power of CRM that, with the right planning, can serve as your right-hand tool to take your customer relationships (and your business) to the next level. Try a free demo of our CRM today and see how you can transform your customer experience.
Yaniv Masjedi joined Nextiva in 2008 and currently serves as the CMO, focusing on marketing strategies and customer success. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from UCLA.