A robust Customer Relationship Management solution (CRM) may not be at the top of most nonprofits’ wish lists, but it really should be. Whether they’re volunteers, donors, or those receiving services, nonprofits thrive on good, two-way relationships with their constituents. Doesn’t it make sense to invest in them? The returns can be huge--saved time and money, simplified daily operations, more effective outreach.
How CRM can give nonprofits a leg up:
While for-profit companies have been using CRM for years, many nonprofits haven’t taken advantage of it yet. This is especially unfortunate because they actually have greater potential to benefit from implementing CRM than their for-profit counterparts. Based on the fact that so many of the people they interact with fill multiple roles, the impact of creating an efficient, accurate database to track and interact with them is much bigger. It fosters clear communication which ultimately means the nonprofit can serve more people.
That’s a win-win in our book.
If you’d like to learn more about how your nonprofit can leverage CRM to drive strong relationships and further its mission, contact us. We’d love to show you a free demonstration.
Your sales team has mastered the pipeline and opportunity management portion of your new CRM solution and sales have been on a steady increase for an extended period of time. Until recently. Sales have flat-lined with a very real fear they may actually start to show a downward trend. Worse yet, the marketing and sales teams are at odds with one another as to how to solve the problem. Apparently, in an attempt to keep up with the Sales team, Marketing has been flooding the sales pipeline with, shall we say, less than high quality leads. Marketing is frustrated that the Sales team is ignoring hot leads while the Sales team has all but given up trying to figure out which leads are worth following up on!
Let’s take a moment to review the events that may have led to the above scenario.
A number of organizations implement a CRM solution due to the growing pains that often follow increased sales and the subsequent demands it puts on the sales and support teams. At some point in time, without streamlining and scaling the sales process, the stress and strain of the sales volume can bring a team to its knees. An effective CRM solution can bring standardization, automation and increased visibility to the sales process which in turn can relieve many of the pain points and permit the sales team to focus their energies once again on closing sales.
The result? A new pain point; the Sales team needs more qualified leads, and the Marketing team needs a more effective way to nurture and qualify leads for the Sales team. If only there was a “CRM” for Marketing.
Enter Automated Marketing!
What’s the next step to improving the management of your sales prospects and increasing your lead conversion ratio? Streamlining and standardizing your marketing processes should be your next step to increasing not only the number of leads in your sales pipeline, but the efficiency of nurturing and the quality of those leads as well.
Automated marketing techniques have been around since the ‘80’s. The simple task of automatically inserting a name on an envelope or letter was one of the first, of many, mundane tasks a marketing automation tool performed. Today’s automated marketing tools do so much more than personalize communications. Wouldn’t you like to know that your emails are being opened? Or who is visiting your website, how often they visit, what they look at and how often?
Per our DPT mantra, before you focus on the tools you need to develop your Marketing Automation processes and strategy before defining which tool is the best part of your overall CRM strategy. Whatever Marketing Automation tool you use, your processes and strategies need to be integrated into your CRM strategy to enable your Sales and Marketing teams to work more effectively together.
Common functions include:
Much in the same way that your CRM has improved the effectiveness of your Sales team, Marketing Automation strategies and processes can help your Marketing team focus their efforts on nurturing a warm lead into a hot lead that any Sales team would love to follow-up on and close!
Have you heard of the CRM Death Spiral? Maybe you’ve experienced it. Over time, people stop using CRM because it doesn’t work for them, the data isn’t meaningful, and they don’t have the training and processes in place to know when and how to use it. So they gradually stop keeping it up to date. When this happens, the reliability and usability of the data decreases even more, which leads to less confidence in the CRM solution, which leads to less use of the solution… and the cycle continues.
If you want to get your CRM back on track, or are wondering how to get started with CRM the right way, here’s a look at the top five CRM success factors to help you avoid the Death Spiral:
CRM strategies are more likely to fail if compelling reasons for adoption aren’t provided to all users. For example, most sales people believe CRM is “big brother software” instead of a solution to help maximize their selling time and close more deals. Proper CRM strategic planning and design should provide obvious and clear value to the end users – to be more efficient and effective, AND to management – to enable better decision making.
Many CRM projects that fail are driven by a “load the software, train the users, and we are done” mentality, which severely limits chances for success. This approach ignores the potential for users to revert back to past practices. Successful CRM takes a comprehensive approach that promotes user adoption, best practices, and continuous improvement.
Selecting a software package first will lead most CRM projects right to failure. Likewise, defining processes and functionality before aligning the strategic drivers and measurements will also lower success rates. The proper sequencing of business strategy alignment, process standardization, requirements definition and tool selection is a key factor in determining success.
“What gets measured gets done.” This philosophy applies to CRM via management of sales (close ratios), marketing (campaign ROI), and customer service (resolution efficiency). Without an accurate compass CRM projects can drift away from what is truly important. Properly tied to business drivers, metrics are the necessary feedback component that drives improvement.
Scope control is important. Well-intentioned projects can go awry with trying to take on the world or focusing too narrowly on a small piece of functionality. Use of proven Project Leadership techniques for effective scope, stakeholder, and resource management will increase the odds of success with CRM.
Comparing CRM and ERP solutions is like looking at the difference between apples and oranges. Depending on the business problem you’re trying to solve, it may make sense to pick an apple or an orange – or in most cases – both. While ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) standardizes and automates the back-end functions of a business, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) supports the “front office” functions by collecting customer information to grow a business through increased sales, higher retention rates, and better customer service. Essentially – while there certainly is crossover – ERP helps you run your business efficiently, while CRM helps you grow your business.
Why wouldn’t I just use the CRM module of my ERP or an accounting system add-on?
CRM and ERP require a very different approach to each strategy and solution. As with a car needing both an engine and transmission to drive, most companies need ERP and CRM to grow effectively – they serve different, but critically valuable purposes. Another way of thinking about the difference is how you sell and market your services as compared to the processes you use to deliver them. Each area requires different approaches, skill sets, techniques, and more.
A good CRM strategy follows a “flexible processes driving technology” approach, whereas ERP typically comes with embedded predefined processes. Most cross functional processes utilize information from both systems. However, CRM is usually a consumer and producer of customer information, but ERP is typically only a consumer. The table below highlights a few of the other differences:
Manages customer interactions and touchpoints
Manages operational information
Benefits – Increased sales, service levels, customer acquisitions/retention
Benefits – Lower costs, growth scalability, compliance
Primary interface for customer facing staff
Primary interface for Operations staff
Requires flexibility to model complex customer relationships
Requires high level of standardization for efficiency
Supports “Owning the customer experience” approach
Supports efficient information management and access
Why do I need to hire a CRM specialist?
Sticking with the car analogy, if the transmission on your car goes out, do you go to a general auto shop or a transmission specialist? What this means is that getting the most out of your CRM means hiring someone that has specific CRM experience and approach to make it useable, provide value, and help your people see the need for using it. Most IT vendors and accounting firms trying to implement CRM the same way as ERP would be like hiring the general auto shop. Adoption is one of the biggest hurdles to CRM success – and ultimately, the ability to grow your business. Hiring the right CRM partner can make all the difference.
While most organizations recognize their need for ERP, they don’t necessarily see the need to have a separate CRM solution. As a partner to many Michigan-based companies, DPT helps evaluate your unique CRM success factors and create a solution that works. Contact us to start a conversation.
According to “Think Round,” by Martha Pease, 90% of most organizations’ staff do not touch a customer, however, they strongly influence the customer experience.
In our previous video, we talked about how CRM helps store and benefit your customer-facing staff in sales, marketing, and service areas. Today we’ll dive into how that same Voice of the Customer information can benefit people who don’t directly touch the customer:
It's about more than just communication preferences and data you're already collecting. Watch a 90 second video to learn how to leverage CRM and CRM processes to provide additional value to your customers through better marketing strategies, service strategies, and all other customer touchpoints:
This year our Customer Relationship Management (CRM) event topic, “The CRM Feud,” came from feedback at previous events, as well as DPT client observations. That feedback showcased the internal struggle between the bombardment of new CRM trends and functionality, versus the need to continue with more fundamental process and internal efficiencies. This struggle highlights the need to include both short term wins and long term plans and roadmaps for effective CRM strategy.
In a nutshell, while new trends and technology are often what initially attract people to CRM, the practical improvements are what sell it to the organization to move forward. Both are necessary, but each type of improvement caters to a different set of stakeholders.
A couple of examples are in order. One of the hottest current trends is implementing social CRM because prospects and customers are now interacting with companies in more channels than ever before through texting, blogs, and social media. The need to capture those conversations and proactively engage in them is within the realm of CRM functionality, however, the need to have a solid core CRM strategy and solution prior to attempting to manage all of the social CRM channels is critical. You need the car chassis and frame before adding on the slick paint job and wide tires. Additionally, the rate of growth of using the other social communication channels is tremendous and companies need to be able to handle those within the same CRM approach and solution.
On the flip side, the practical process and service improvements gained through CRM are key to getting user buy-in as well as time savings for team members to drive higher value add activities such as attracting and retaining new customers. For instance, reducing a sales person’s need to fill out reports and spreadsheets or attend weekly sales meetings can be huge in terms of time savings to focus more time on prospecting and selling. Eliminating “spreadsheet”-based information silos regarding key customer information reduces the time needed to search for and access the information, as well as improves the confidence that the information is correct by creating a single “source of truth.”
For clarity, we’re not advocating a choice for one (embrace trends) or the other (implement process improvements) – you need both. It’s more of an issue of timing, planning, company culture, work sequencing, and laying out a vision and roadmap to reach your goals.
Want to learn more about how other organizations deal with the struggle? Come to The CRM “Feud” on October 15. Learn from National Heritage Academies, Paws With A Cause, and Great Lakes Health Connect as they share their successes and struggles on their CRM journey.
In our previous nonprofit post we outlined four areas in which a nonprofit can benefit by leveraging for-profit business strategies and tactics. Now we will share some key points from a recent presentation we did at the West Michigan Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFPWM). Specifically, we will talk about how you can create an environment that allows you to manage ALL of your relationships with people, not just the donors.
Typically, nonprofits have a high level of sophistication around the processes and systems used to manage donor related information and activities. After all, this is the life blood and often what fuels the nonprofit to deliver on its mission. It is also common that other functions across the organization do not coordinate well with processes, donor management systems and data. Similar to what happens in a for-profit organization, functional “silos” result in many different special purpose systems and processes being maintained. No matter the cause, this results in your nonprofit team not being able to effectively coordinate to manage relationships at an organizational level.
Here are some indicators that your nonprofit may need to think about a new way to manage relationship information:
For-profit businesses solve these challenges with a CRM or Customer Relationship Management strategy and solution. In this context CRM is beyond a “system”, but instead a way to organize and manage the information and processes connecting your nonprofit with the people and organizations that are important to your mission. For most nonprofits, this could include volunteers, donors, clients, boards or steering committees, sponsoring organizations, foundations, benefactors, etc.
CRM solutions provide much more depth and value than maintaining your individual or organizational records. It also provides one “source of truth” for managing the entire relationship with the person or organization – no matter how simple or complex. The robust relationship, communication and task management functionality that for profit organizations have leveraged from CRM for many years in their sales and customer services processes can also be leveraged in a nonprofit. With it, you can:
CRM solutions are not cookie cutter. While the points above are generalized – the exact benefits that your nonprofit would receive are specific to your unique situation and mission. Whether or not you already have a well-defined donor management process and information system, CRM can allow your organization to more effectively manage all of the important relationships beyond just donors.
Next up in our nonprofit blog series…… ROI for nonprofits?
Managing a team of salespeople has its own set of challenges. As Director of Sales at Crystal Flash, I’ve seen numerous benefits since implementing a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution in helping increase the effectiveness of our sales team and how we can serve the organization as a whole. Having all of your customer information in one place, timeliness and accuracy of actionable information, and a more standardized, streamlined sales process are all important benefits of having CRM for sales management. But the biggest benefits to Crystal Flash using CRM are related to visibility and transparency to real time sales and marketing information.
The specific benefits include:
CRM allows us to see all of our open sales opportunities, what stage they’re in, and who is doing what – all in one place. As a Sales Manager, it allows me to really focus in on where I can help my sales team the most in closing business and managing relationships. It helps keep us organized, and the visibility of real-time data in the sales pipeline is a huge benefit. Specifically, I review the sales pipeline in CRM during every 1:1 meeting with each of my teammates. I like to start at the bottom of the funnel (those opportunities nearest to closing) and work backward to leads. Doing this allows me to understand where each individual is stuck in moving opportunities through the pipeline and lets me see their patterns. Some people don’t like to enter an opportunity until it is almost a lock to close while other people enter opportunities that have very little chance of closing. Using CRM has helped me guide the whole team to a more balanced view so that we are “talking the same language” when it comes to closing opportunities.
We used to send spreadsheets with new leads out to our sales people. They in turn may or may not update it, use it, or report back with it, which caused me to have to spend more time following-up with individuals to get the information from them. Also, the instant we sent a spreadsheet out, it was out of date. Today, instead of having lots of spreadsheets with old and unused data floating around, we load the leads directly into CRM – a tool the sales people are already using. It saves our sales team time because the leads are filled in for them with basic contact information and a high-level assessment about the quality of the lead. As a Sales Manager, I have better visibility to open leads and are able to track them through the sales process whether they’re won or lost.
As with any organization, I need data at my fingertips to be able to effectively show the other teams in the organization what sales is doing and how it impacts them. After implementing CRM, I now have real-time data and forward projections easily accessible so I can effectively tell the sales story. This saves me time in not having to recreate reports and provide separate updates for other parts of the organization. It has cut down dramatically that question most sales managers get from time-to-time, “What are those sales people doing anyway?”
Overall, I’m extremely pleased with how well our implementation of CRM has gone. We’ve been using it for six months and it has become an indispensable tool for the entire team. People who were naysayers have changed their tune and told me it has made their jobs easier and helped them stay focused. Finally, I know we’re on the right path because my team is coming up with idea after idea on how to add to CRM and make it even better!
Thank you to everyone who joined us for our annual CRM Executive Panel Event! Business executives from leading West Michigan companies including Bethany Christian Services, Crystal Flash, and Voice Data Systems fielded questions about their experiences partnering with DPT and building a roadmap to lasting CRM success.
Some highlights from the event:
DPT takes a unique business performance approach to CRM strategy. We can help your team chart a course towards sustainable, efficient, growth enabling, and rewarding solutions to the challenges you face. Hear more from our clients, and contact us to learn more about how a business and process first approach can lead your organization to CRM success.