Do you need a CRM in 2018? [updated for 2020]

16 Jul 2018

Short answer: yes. CRM systems are great for keeping your business on track and moving forward.

But that’s a sales pitch at the end of the day. And you’ve got a question you actually want an answer to:

Do you need a CRM system in 2020?

So I’d like to take some time exploring the reasoning behind the question:

  1. Why companies decide to commit to (or retain) a CRM,
  2. What different kind of CRM systems there are out in the market,
  3. What the most success CRM strategies are,
  4. Why so many companies struggle with CRM implementation
  5. And then a few of my top tips and best practices when it comes to using your CRM.

Then, when you’ve read my whole argument for why you should use a CRM, you can decide whether it is right for your business…and maybe give us a call to chat about it.

On to the main event!

Why Use a CRM?

A pretty basic question, but one that has a different answer for every business. That’s not me being difficult: it really does come down to the needs and processes of the individual company or team.

The question we prefer to ask is: what are your pain points?

What are the areas in your business that aren’t working as well as they should. Then we examine them to see where and how OpenCRM could help out.

Some of the most common pain points revolve around sales, but there are others. For example:

  • We don’t really know what prospects are coming in, when they land, and who is picking them up.
  • Forecasting sales is a big problem for us, each sales person has a different method of reporting their figures.
  • Our support team really struggle with keeping track of all the tickets on their desks and aren’t responding in a timely manner.
  • I never know who is doing what on which day, I just need to have a better oversight of the company in general.
  • We have a set way of doing things that worked when the company was just the three of us, now that we’re growing, things are just a bit disorganised.

And so on. You might see your business echoed in some of these comments or you might have a completely different experience.

All companies are different and so will need a CRM to work in different ways—hence why that question of “why do I need a CRM” is so tough to answer.

Types of CRM Systems

There are, in my experience, two main types of CRM: Industry Specific and Generic

Industry Specific

The Industry Specific systems will have tools and features that are already phrased and attuned to the specific needs of your industry. And that can be great, to have a tool that you can implement right off the shelf.

And they work for a lot of businesses, solving any and all pain points in one area of a business. But what about the rest of the team?

For example, if you run a widget manufacturing company and you have the official Widget Manufacturing Project Management System, it will almost certainly work perfectly for your project management and manufacturing teams. But what about sales? And marketing? And after sales support?

This isn’t to say that there aren’t great industry specific systems out there that can be extended to the whole team. Or that, if your only pain points are focused in that one area, these solutions aren’t a good option. Because they are: industry specific systems are a great solution for many businesses.

But not all of them.


And this is where the more Generic systems really come into their own.

If you have pain points throughout your business, at all points in the customer journey, a system that can span the length and breath of your departments can be a really useful tool.

The benefits are that you have everyone working in one system, all having access to the same information (with some sensible restrictions), which can save you time and money.

Take us, for example. We use OpenCRM internally for all aspects of the business. The marketing team uses it for campaigning and lead generation, with sales picking up those leads and moving them through the whole sales process in the same system. Our projects (and development) team can then track their progress, with full access to the sales notes to make sure no detail is accidentally left with only one department. And finally, our support team are able to see all of the above so if a call comes in, they can see any relevant info with just a couple clicks.

Another benefit, of course, with having everything in one place is reporting. With everything in a single location, tying the details together for a complete picture is much easier that trying to wrangle info from multiple systems.

CRM Strategy

Now I’ve talked in the above two sections about knowing your pain points and processes in order to help you pick the right CRM for you. This will (hopefully) help you answer that very personal question of why you should use a CRM system.

And that all comes around to this question of having a CRM strategy.

I don’t mean for how to implement one (although I am coming to that in the next section).

When I say “CRM strategy”, what I mean comes down to having the answers to a few key questions:

  • Where a CRM needs to fit in your business,
  • What kind of tools that CRM needs to have,
  • Who will be using it,
  • How will they be using it, and
  • How is that going to evolve over time.

This strategy will change and evolve over time, as any good strategy does. You might find a CRM that does MORE than you expected, so will start to build that into your strategy.

The important thing in all of this is that you have a strategy. You need to know why you want a CRM and how you want to use it…all before making those first calls to providers.

CRM Implementation

Quite often, people think that, once they’ve selected and purchased their CRM system, the hard part is over.

I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, but the hard part is just beginning.

Let me walk you an ideal implementation, so you can see what I mean about there being a lot of work in this process:

  1. CRM selected. Hooray!
  2. Review your CRM strategy – a good habit to get in throughout the process. (Hopefully this was a big part of your sales process, so this is really just a way to boost your memory)
  3. Appoint a CRM champion – this is someone who will take charge of the configuration and training. Making sure you are getting the CRM your business needs
  4. Configuration – this may be something you do on your own or a process you do alongside your CRM provider. Either way it is a big part of the process. This configuration may include:
    1. Setting up your email signatures (and email templates)
    2. Creating your PDFs (for sales, marketing, projects, etc.)
    3. Adding custom fields and changing the layouts of the screens so they work for your team
    4. Setting up your permissions to make sure your data is only visible to the people who need it
    5. Adding any automation or workflow that will support your teams
  5. Training – Now you need to make sure that everyone who will be using the CRM is trained in how your processes will be implemented in this new system
  6. Launch – You start using the system (hooray!). (See my tips below for getting people using this new system)
  7. Review – At some point after launch, you (and your CRM champion) review with the various teams to find out how the system is working for you, is it solving all the pain points? Has it created any new ones? Do all the processes work as well as they did before?

You can see that even this cut down process is fairly involved and, depending on the size and complexity of your business, will take a fairly significant investment of time.

My advice for succeeding with your CRM implementation: be involved and be patient. It will take a bit of time, but will require you (and your CRM champion) to be involved if the CRM is truly going to reflect your business.

CRM Best Practices & Top Tips

Now that you’ve resolved which CRM you need, how you’re going to use it, and got it all implemented, it’s time to get on with the habit of using it.

And it is a habit your team will need to get into. They will want to go back to the old way of doing things, because it is what they are comfortable with.

So how do you get them to use this new system?

  1. Rewards: some companies like to find ways to reward their users for using the new systems. They might base commission off it or set certain KPIs directly off the back of actions in the system.
  2. Punishment: the flip side of the reward system is of course punishing people for not using it. For example, withholding commission or bonuses, or even raising disciplinary actions in the extreme, when a person doesn’t use the system.
  3. Knowledge: my preference and the one I’ve seen regularly succeed in CRM implementations is all about people understanding WHY. It’s important to take the time to inform people about why you’ve got the system and get them on board with using it. When people understand the reasons and benefits of using a new tool, they are far more likely to use it.

They’re all using it…now what?

Once you’ve got everyone on board with using the system, there are some other best practices I can recommend. (And then I promise to start wrapping up this (now very) long post:

  • Keep your data accurate and tidy. Not only is it now a GDPR requirement, but it will also keep your business on track. If people can rely on the data in your system, they will be more efficient in the tasks they need to accomplish in it.
  • Review your processes regularly. Ask people and run reports to make sure that the processes you have embedded in your system are working as well as they could. I would say to try and do this a couple times a year. Just to make sure you catch snags before they become problems.
  • Stay informed. Keep in touch with your CRM provider and read up on their latest features. You might find some new tips and tools that are perfect for your business.

So, coming back to the initial question: why use a CRM in 2020?

The answer is complex and unique to each business, but really comes down to knowing what your company needs. That will tell you whether you need a CRM, help you find the right one, and get it implemented with the people who need it.

If you think OpenCRM might be that system for your business, drop our team a line or give us a call to start the conversation.

t: 01748 437000 (opt 1) or

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Ashley Tallyn
Ashley Tallyn
Although I originally hail from northern California, as soon as I arrived in Yorkshire I knew it was the place for me! At OpenCRM, I started out in the Business Development team, and then moved into compliance and Q&A because I love telling people what to do...ok, that's not the real reason, but it makes for a good bio one-liner. When I’m not in the office, you can usually find me tramping through the dales, crafting, gardening, or with my nose in a book.