Driving pipeline: What goes into setting up a CRM correctly?

Christoph Trappe 5 minute read

The customer journey is more complex than ever today so why make it more complicated than it is already? That’s where setting up a CRM (aka customer relationship management system) comes in.

“The CRM is really the system of record that’s like at the center of your customer tech stack,” said Scott Brinker, VP of Platform Ecosystem at HubSpot and editor at chiefmartec.com, on an episode of the “Marketing, Demystified” podcast.  “There are so many digital activities happening in the way we engage with customers. So with all this different activity, and all these moving parts, what you’re looking for is that center of gravity.”

When setting up a CRM the goal should be cohesion across all the different touch points with the consumer, Scott explained.

And, Jenn Mancusi, co-founder and CEO at Growgetter, added that a goal is great, but reaching it comes down to the implementation of the CRM and workflows.

“A data-driven strategy is not possible if you don’t have all the data going into one place” said Jenn.

“When selecting the perfect CRM, it’s essential to see beyond just the present needs and look at long-term scalability and adaptability,” said Jon Ferrara, founder of Nimble and a CRM pioneer. “A good CRM is not just a software, but a reflection of your company’s customer management philosophy.”

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Benefits of CRM implementation

In a nutshell, the biggest benefit of using a CRM is to keep a unified view of the customer journey. From the first time a prospect connects with your brand, through the sales process, the purchase and the customer experience and renewal, a CRM keeps everything in one place. Understanding the history of the relationship, timelines and communications makes it easier to nurture the relationship and then continue it post-sale.

Choosing the right CRM software

There certainly are plenty of options available to choose from. Here at Growgetter we use HubSpot for our integrated email marketing, social media campaigns and landing pages. From there, we can easily track:

  • Contacts
  • Touch points and engagement over time
  • Potential deals, timelines and won/lost deals

You can even run your entire website from within HubSpot and track the entirety of the customer-journey map.

To get started with your CRM determine:

  • What are the must haves in your setup?
  • Which pieces are niece to have?
  • Do you anticipate other needs in the future?

Then look at:

  • Which CRMs are well known?
  • How easy to use are they?
  • What does the transition look like from what you currently use – which might be a spreadsheet or another system.
  • Do they offer all the functionalities that you need?

“There’s hundreds of different CRMs out there. You can definitely look at the a wide variety of choices,” said Scott. “But to me, like at the end of the day, having people actually use the CRM is a function of the experience for the employees.”

Setting up the CRM

Some organizations can run with what comes out of the box with the CRM. Some need to use different pieces of what’s available and some need to build custom options. It comes down to what is needed to get started, keep going and what can be build or updated later on.

“The difference here is the maturity of the organization,” said Scott.

Especially when setting up a CRM for the first time, be clear about what’s needed to stand it up correctly and in a way to help teams drive revenue.

“Have a set of milestones and clarity of the steps,” said Scott.

Some companies may already have a legacy CRM that isn’t working well. Sometimes, it might be time to “declare CRM bankruptcy” and start from scratch, said Scott.

No matter what system you end up using consider:

  • Appointing a project leader
  • Understand how long implementation takes
  • Does the new system have an onboarding process to follow?

What’s the ROI of a CRM?

Many people ask and for some systems it’s easier to calculate the direct ROI. For example, Scott mentioned an ad platform. Here’s much it costs and here’s much it brought in. Easy breezy math.

CRMs don’t work like that, but without a CRM, it’s easy to:

  • Miss touch points with customers and potential customers.
  • Lose track of specific prospect’s customer journey.

When you start to look at these foundational systems, something like a CRM, that’s going to be that center of gravity for so many other things, it is actually very hard to just say ‘Oh, and here’s the ROI of new deals that we can attribute to the CRM, because there were so many activities that ended up happening.”

– Scott Brinker, HubSpot

A proper CRM also saves time and costs. Scott mentioned the example of 50 sales people wasting an hour a week on a bad process. That’s 50 hours wasted per week – hours a good CRM can help reallocate to something more productive.

It helps with consistency in communication, explained Jon.

“When every department operates from the same information base, it ensures consistency in communication,” he said. “Whether it’s the marketing team sending out a promotional email or the customer service team addressing a query, every interaction is informed, relevant, and aligned with prior communications.”

Read next: New report: How is AI in content marketing being used?

Training and onboarding stakeholders

As the CRM gets set up and launched to stakeholders and people that will use it, it’s important to understand what other technology employees already use and how the CRM will replace or complement the existing tech stack.

“For most businesses out there that are maybe choosing a CRM for the first time, it’s not the only piece of tech in their stack,” said Jenn. “It would be lovely if we could just run our whole businesses right within one platform. There are all kinds of other systems that are getting used, and the further integrated they are with the CRM the better.”

Training and onboarding should always start with a high-level overview: Here’s what we are solving with this CRM. Then followed by: Here are the benefits for you. And then, let’s dive into how you can use it and how it will help.

“The ability for your teams to actually tap into those capabilities and put them to productive use, very much does come back to usability,” said Scott. “It’s not just a sales tool, it’s not just a marketing tool.”

To truly take advantage of the power of a CRM, all departments – finance, sales, marketing, customer success and so on – need to know how to use the database to track progress, keep progress updated and pull reports and information that help everyone move forward and drive business growth.

“A good provider will offer resources and tools to ensure a smooth transition,” said Jon.

“But, we’ve done it without a CRM for years.”

Some teams might not be immediate fans of a CRM. After all, that spreadsheet worked for them in prior decades. But using individual spreadsheets is way more inefficient than having a shared CRM that everyone easily can dig into.

“Once they actually make that selection of a new CRM – that isn’t the finish line, that is actually the starting line,” said Scott. “It’s really helping to guide people through that process of how do you truly adopt it? How do you make it a part of your business operations to really get the maximum value?”

Driving business growth is so much easier to accomplish as a team and a CRM ensures the team is rowing in the same direction together.

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