CRM Outside the Vacuum

24 Mar 2020

Your sales team does not exist in a vacuum, they have to work with and for the benefit of the rest of the company. So why would you have them use a system that doesn’t work or at least integrate with the rest of your business software?

Our MD has recently written an article for Business Edge exploring the benefits of managing the whole of the customer journey within you CRM solution.

This article can also be found in the latest issues of Business Direction, Business Comment, and Business Intelligence.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are supposed to help businesses manage the whole of the customer journey. So why do so many stop after the initial sale is signed off? 

CRM solutions have become a byword for SALES management tools…and they are so much more than that. Or at least they should be. 

Your customers’ experience with your business is defined by every single one of their contact points with your team. Those contact points may be your website, a marketing email they receive, speaking to you at an expo, calling to ask a question about a project you are collaborating on, dealing with your accounts team, and so on. 

If the people working at all of the stages of this journey aren’t all on the same page, that experience will be disjointed. 

I’ll illustrate this with an example customer journey…one with a “joined up” CRM solution and one that just focuses on sales. 

Sales Only CRM 

A new prospect lands on your website and fills in a contact form. Your sales team sees this new lead in your CRM system and gives them a call.  

They exchange emails, phone calls, maybe the odd meeting. All of this dialogue is held against a central opportunity record, along with the details of the deal as it evolves. Any time your customer calls, no matter who picks it up, your team can answer the question. All with the information related to the ongoing negotiations is held in a central, easy to access location.  

Quotes are sent out and the sale is signed off. Your customer receives their product or services. And now their record on your CRM solution goes…well, a bit quiet. 

When your accounts team see the invoice come through on their side, that’s all they know. Any information relating to who the best person is to call about payment is on the CRM…not in the accounts system. 

If your customer has a question about the implementation of your services or maybe the product has a small fault, they call another team that may be hearing about them for the first time. Those queries are all handled in other systems, with the details about the original negotiation silo’d away. Details that may or may not have a bearing on their installation or support. 

Suddenly your customer is having to explain who they are, what they purchased from you, and is probably starting to feel like they’re repeating themselves a lot. The journey they are on with your business is beginning to feel like a rail journey disrupted with unexpected transfers, breakdowns, and sometimes just sitting on the track between stops waiting for who knows what! 

End to End Solution 

The same journey with a CRM solution that covers your whole business will start the same. Your prospect lands into your CRM system and is taken care of all the way through to closed won. 

Then the accounts team picks up the invoice. Instead of calling the main switchboard and hoping for the best, your team can easily see exactly the right person to contact regarding payment. Because the sales person has highlighted it in a central location. 

And the great thing is that it cuts both ways, your sales team will easily be able to see when an invoice has been paid…without having to sign into another system. 

Any questions your customer has for your implementation or support team can also be seen by the sales team. And those people handling the aftersales care can easily see the promises made during the initial sale, making sure that the customer receives exactly what they were promised. 

Now your customer feels like they are being taken care of, that the company they’ve just given money to actually cares about them as a person. The journey they are on with you feels joined up…without unplanned layovers, delays, or random stopovers in fields. 

The Key is in the Name 

I guess what I’m saying is that the future of the CRM industry, as far as I see it, is giving businesses the tools they need to actually support the whole of the customer journey. Not just helping them win the sale. 

Limiting CRM to just the sales cycle is a mistake and integrations with other services will only get you so far. Your customers don’t stop their relationship with your business after they sign on the dotted line. That’s just the beginning of it. 

The relationship—the thing you want to manage—goes on and on. Ideally, that relationship will last as long as you can keep providing them with the goods and services they need. So why on earth would the system you are using to manage it stop when things are just getting exciting.  

My opinion: CRM systems that don’t embrace the whole customer journey and don’t allow for joining of the dots are not going to survive in the future.