Optimize your CRM software is important.
Using your CRM to its fullest potential will help keep your company visible to your clients. — Getty Images/chee gin tan

Customer relationship management (CRM) software has become the standard way for many businesses to manage their leads and sales funnel. Sales teams often favor paid solutions for the robust support and features they offer, but if you're not using all of your solution's available features to their fullest potential, you may not be getting your money's worth.

Rohan Gupta, VP of sales and business operations at Sherpa Consulting Partners, says CRM solutions are a strategic investment for businesses and should be treated as such during the implementation and setup process.

"The goal of any CRM is to help create visibility into your business and automate tasks that are labor-intensive," said Gupta, whose company offers Salesforce consulting and implementation services. "CRMs have a multitude of features, and it's important to utilize these tools and your data [to gain] a competitive advantage."

If your business is exploring the world of CRM software or has recently invested in a solution, here are some useful tips for optimizing your system for maximum return on investment.

[Read: 6 Signs You Should Invest in CRM Software]

Must-have features in a CRM

Before you can optimize your CRM software, you need to understand exactly what tools you have at your disposal. Every CRM has basic contact management capabilities to track and store customer information, but it's the additional features that can truly help you advance your business.

Tyler Read, CEO of PTPioneer, advised business owners to be forward-thinking when choosing their first CRM and looking for features that will grow with their business.

"Investing a lot of time and energy into building out a CRM that you eventually grow out of will be a major pain," Read said. "When your business is picking up pace, the last thing you'll want to deal with is completely switching over to a new system."

To that end, Gupta recommended confirming your chosen CRM has the following features:

  • Workflow automation. Your CRM should be able to automate and improve workflows across various departments to help your employees effortlessly engage with customers and conduct business without having to deal with manual-intensive processes.
  • Configurations, customizations and integrations. A good CRM allows you to configure your system without much coding support. You should also be able to easily customize your solution to create company-specific workflows and unique business processes, as well as integrate with various other platforms. That way, you can engage with a larger audience and have more accessibility tools that can help your business, said Gupta.
  • Reports and dashboards. Your CRM is only as good as your ability to put it your customer data into action. Gupta noted that you should be able to seamlessly collect, utilize and visualize data to help your team understand company performance and make effective decisions afterward.

[Read: 7 Common CRM Questions Answered]

When your business is picking up pace, the last thing you'll want to deal with is completely switching over to a new system.

Tyler Read, CEO, PTPioneer

How to get the most out of your CRM software

Whether you're beginning the implementation process or looking to optimize your existing solution, here are a few ways to extract as much value as possible out of your CRM.

Develop a strategic vision for your CRM use

A CRM solution with all the bells and whistles won't do your business any good if your team doesn't know how or why to use it. Gupta said your team needs to understand the changes that are being made to their work practices.

"Develop a strategic vision to help identify challenges and create a plan of action to achieve measurable goals," Gupta told CO—. "You want to first focus on quick wins that can drive instant value while working towards a long-term strategy that will help accelerate your business."

Think through future uses for the data you collect

The most valuable thing any CRM can do is collect and store a wealth of insightful customer data. Read advised thinking ahead of your current business activities to collect information that you may not need now, but that could prove useful for targeting in the future.

For example, Read's company asks new mailing list subscribers to identify what stage of their career they're at when they sign up.

"When we first started collecting this information, we weren’t creating specifically targeted content for different career levels," he said. "Now that we have a clear idea of who our market is, we can create content that specifically targets each group."

[Read: A Quick Guide to Data Management, Protection and Storage]

Ask your internal CRM users how you can improve their workflow

As you're setting up your CRM, Gupta recommended finding ways to make it as user-friendly as possible for the people who will be working in it every day.

"Constantly engage with your CRM users to figure out what you can do to help them conduct their day-to-day work and improve upon inefficient or burdensome processes," said Gupta. "You want your team to feel comfortable with the changes and experience the benefit."

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published December 03, 2020