Five simple ways to use CRM for better sales

The digital revolution has given businesses many opportunities to optimize their processes. For example, in the manufacturing sector, Industry 4.0 has become a springboard to unprecedented potential for productivity gains. In sales and marketing, the introduction of digital Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools has supported an evolution in how businesses manage client relationships and sales performance.

Yet, many companies have not fully grasped what CRM means. This term refers to a set of tools that let your sales team communicate with customers at the right time thanks to information obtained upstream about the person or business. Leveraging CRM can be a challenge in practice, as companies don’t always get as many benefits out of this strategic tool as they could.

At YR Consulting, I have worked with CEOs and sales and marketing managers to determine the main issues with their sales performance. Here are five things I have learned that can help you make the most of your CRM for better sales.

1. Channel as much customer information as possible into your CRM

This may seem obvious, but too many CRM users still use Excel spreadsheets for their reporting or analysis needs. The result? Productivity gains are lost, and you have a greater margin of error when it comes to decision-making. The goal of CRM is precisely to have the right business intelligence to help you decide on the best actions to take with your customers. Simply centralizing this valuable information in a CRM gives you a 360-degree profile of your customer actions. Given that many CRM companies provide custom reporting capabilities, Excel is really unnecessary for managing your customer relationships!

2. Encourage CRM adoption and use by reinforcing and supporting the tool

To encourage employee buy-in, I usually start with management. Using CRM to manage performance provides concrete examples of benefits (the “what’s in it for me” or WIIFM), which will increase the tool's perceived value by your staff. For example, imagine that a prospect is entered into your CRM. Thanks to clearly defined qualification steps in the system, the customer makes a faster buying decision. This in turn leads to positive sales results more quickly. At your one-on-one or team meetings, use these types of examples to highlight successes related directly to your CRM. You’ll also need to encourage staff to adopt the tool by helping them change their ingrained habits. One secret to getting them to change is a mobile app, which can give your sales reps considerable flexibility.

3. Use only essential and relevant features and data

Most CRM tools offer a high level of customization. However, their very user-friendly interfaces may tempt you to create functionalities or fields that you don't always need. These extras can get distracting, which in turn hurts productivity. Your own sales and marketing process is your best guide to building the functionalities and fields that will have the biggest impact and enhance your overall performance. When choosing a CRM platform, think about your needs: What information do you and your team need? Who will use the information and why? These answers will limit the number of fields you use and help you create “smart data” to better analyze the needs of your customer base and the behaviour of your sales force.

4. Identify KPIs and adjust your sales and marketing strategy

It is often said that you can't change things after the fact, and that’s true. However, you can change what you’re doing now. One of the biggest tips for using a CRM is establishing a set of key performance indicators (KPIs). These metrics help you become agile and adjust the behaviour of your sales force based on targets.

Thanks to the CRM, you’ll get a better idea of your customers’ needs. You can then incorporate these needs into your marketing actions, such as sending newsletters or personalized emails about an event, training or a new product to segmented lists based on customer preferences. Then, you’ll need to analyze how each action converted to increased revenue and adapt your strategy accordingly.

A CRM also lets you centralize all communications, such as e-mails, blogs or social media posts.

5. Use your CRM to shorten the learning curve of new salespeople

Instead of training your new hires with ad hoc methods, you can integrate your sales and marketing processes into your CRM. You’ll find it much easier to train new team members while avoiding inconsistencies in sales tactics and approaches that can limit your growth. The CRM gives you an opportunity to make new staff more productive that much more quickly. For example, after being trained on your products or services, new reps can easily consult your CRM for a list of the best prospects in just a few clicks. They can then see where these customers are in the sales cycle and prepare for their customer meetings based on a list of predetermined criteria to advance the sale on a solid foundation.

Of course, there are many more ways that CRM can optimize your sales performance—if you use it wisely.

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