The Benefits of a CRM Consultant

1 Apr 2019

As a business owner, it can sometimes be hard to lift your head above the parapet and do some broader analysis as to how you are performing. I’m talking about how you can improve on your micro environment (your internal business processes), as well as looking at the macro environment (factors outside your direct control), and taking a look at what is happening within your industry in terms of economics, technology, competitor activity and so on. The chances are seeing as you are reading this, you will already be implementing a CRM solution to manage at least some of your processes.

When performing various needs and performance analyses, some people will look at engaging outside assistance, which is where a CRM consultant comes into play. One of the benefits is to get a fresh pair of eyes to point out anything you don’t notice as sometimes you can’t see the wood for the trees. You may find it hard to delegate certain tasks because it is hard to imagine that people share your vision, but at the end of the day, there are only so many hours in the day.

The use of CRM will differ from business to business. Some people will take advantage of each and every facet of the tool and use it to drive the business from A to Z, whereas others may simply focus on one area such as lead nurturing or the support desk.

For this blog post we’ll be letting our virtual consultant guide us through the whole process. From start to finish, from Lead Management, through the Sale to Customer Service and Account Management. We’ll look at the types of questions that need to be addressed to help you configure your system appropriately.

Lead Management

Leads means your suspects and prospects – people you are hoping will ultimately become your customers. You’ll need to know how you are attracting them – do you have any advertising, or agencies that gather leads for you? Do you provide forms on your website to encourage people to connect with you? Or do you have a more organic approach, using word-of-mouth and letting your existing customer-base become your brand advocates.

A consultant may have a broader understanding of the marketplace that you, and will be able to advise on any tricks you are missing. Once that is established, you can easily customise the Lead Management areas of your CRM but updating details such as Lead Sources and setting up assignment rules to make sure the Leads you are generating don’t fall through the cracks.

Nail The Sale

Once you have determined that a Lead is genuinely worth pursuing, your consultant will want to know what your ideal next steps are. Do you have a preferred time-scale in which you want to close a sale (ie before the lead becomes too expensive or no longer worth pursuing)? Are there particular steps to be managed during that process – for example analysing the needs of the client to see if that fits in with your offering, or running credit checks to provide yourself with some reassurance before investing time and effort in a new relationship.

Again, this will convert into configuring your CRM system. This could involve setting a preferred Active Period on Opportunities, customising the sales stages and adding action plans or conditional fields to generate prompts and reminders along the way.

Behind The Scenes

In the meantime, the consultant should also help you with some other concepts such as suggesting appropriate designs for PDF templates, sales orders, emails and so on, to ensure that your customer-facing documentation offers a consistent on-brand approach, regardless of which sales person is managing the process.


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Delivering Great Customer Service

After you’ve made the sale, the communications with the client are likely to take a number of directions. Outbound, you will be reaching out to them doing some account management (see below), but inbound you may well have some customer service to manage. This could be anything from receiving phone calls or emails (or social media comments) complaining about something not working, or a lack of understanding about how features work, or if could be clients asking about enhancements and upgrades.

Your consultant will want to find out from you what kind of support levels you offer, and whether this is for free or on a paid subscription basis. If so, are there different tiers that involve different service level agreement (SLA) times. Basically what do you need to do to meet the customer’s expectations in that department? Once that has been established, you can configure your Helpdesk, your Contracts and your SLAs accordingly.

Account Management

Statistically, research has shown that customer retention is cheaper that customer acquisition, ie it will cost less to upsell or renew a subscription with an existing customer, as you have already done all the legwork required to find out what their needs are.

A consultant will take a step back and look at customer cycles – what the average lifespan of the relationship with your client is, to make sure you are optimising your investment. If the client has come to the natural end of the relationship with you, you will want to avoid throwing too much money at them, however there are other benefits you can gain from a client that ha come to the end of their journey with you – for example a testimonial or a case study if you’ve helped them resolve a particular business problem for example.

If the customer service department is reactive, responding to enquiries and resolving problems, account management gives you the chance to be proactive and present solutions and advice before a problem arises.
Setting reminders and setting client rating are just a couple of configuration tools you can use to keep those customers happy, and to make sure you don’t drop off their radar through lack of interaction.

What is the Benefit to all of the Above?

As I mentioned, you may not roll your CRM out to all departments at once but may take a phased approach. Also depending on the nature of your business some of those areas described will be more important to you than others. Bringing all the departments together into a shared environment helps in may ways. It means you all have access to key information about your clients, at any time or place. Someone carrying out an account management call can view the whole history of the customer journey. A support agent that has access to sales and purchasing history is in a better place to help resolve a problem than someone who doesn’t have easy access to that information.

As mentioned, when you are stuck running the day-to-day management, you might make assumptions that everyone is on the same page. However little external help and consultancy casts a fresh set of eyes over the journey and may highlight points you might have thought were self-evident, but without communicating this, no-one else has connected the dots to see things how you see them.

The outcome is intended to be a well-rounded piece of software that addresses the needs of all your departments, and also means you offer the client a consistent experience when they engage with your brand.

Tom Chapman
Tom Chapman
My main task at OpenCRM is managing customer projects - managing communications between clients and our internal departments, in short being in the thick of it. It's a fun role. Outside the office you'll either find me in a dingy club playing the guitar, or out walking in the Lake District or Yorkshire Dales.