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When you have more than just a few connections, you might find that things slip through the cracks. As your organization grows, you might realize that you have to coordinate communication from multiple parties so that your salespeople don’t ask for more business from a customer currently in the midst of a service nightmare. You can quickly find yourself in a sea of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or Sales Force Automation (SFA) software. In a recent interview with an industry expert, we discussed dirty secrets that CRM vendors don’t want you to know.

Inside Scoop From An Insider

I had the good fortune to speak with Zvi Band, founder of Contactually, on my Business Cast. Zvi opened up with great candor about the challenges and risks in CRM/SFA systems (CRM). As a CRM vendor, Zvi shared how he sees the world and where different tools fit. I have been quoted in the past as saying the best CRM is the one your team will actually use. In my discussion with Zvi, he shared some common misconceptions.

Keep in mind that Contactually integrates with other CRM applications like SalesForce, so clearly Zvi has some great, real-world perspective.

Mistake Number One – Chasing New Business

In any CRM demonstration I have attended, the CRM vendor emphasizes all of the work you can do to pursue and capture new business. Yet the fastest way to grow your existing business is to pay attention to and engage with your existing customers.

Zvi cautions businesses to not overlook their engagement with existing customers. It’s fine to have a specific plan and steps to land new business, but are you doing so at the expense of regular communication with your current revenue sources? If you focus on delivering incredible value with existing clients, then you might have all the business you could hope to have.

In addition to new business opportunities, don’t overlook your referral sources. Maintaining regular communication with them is what keeps you relevant in their minds.

Mistake Number Two – Treating CRM As A Numbers Game

We discussed the emphasis that CRM vendors place on metrics and managing activity. However, activity may not be a consistent indicator of results. Instead of merely focusing on how many phone calls, meetings or interactions you achieve, you might want to go beyond the data to understand the depth of your connections.

One key method is to categorize your contacts (Contactually calls these categories “buckets”). If you have a referral source, you might set a rule that monitors your email and calendar and notifies you if you have not had any interaction in the past three weeks.

If you solely focus on the active opportunities and interactions, you might overlook regular communication that would strengthen the value of your network. Avoid the trap of just tracking activity, and be sure that you have a plan to monitor how your team maintains regular communication with contacts at a variety of levels, not just regarding immediate opportunities.

Mistake Number Three – Delving Into Overcomplicated Data

It is perfectly normal to want to take advantage of each and every feature and field in a given tool. But when it comes to CRM, we know that the more complex and comprehensive you try to make it, the less likely your team members are to use the tool at all. This is why the most common complaint I hear from executives is, “My team won’t use the CRM.”

Don’t confuse your customer-facing representatives for data entry clerks. Many a company has stifled their sales operations by suggesting, “You are already speaking with the customer. On your next visit, just capture these 327 data points for us.” Your reps can easily lose focus on the customer, and instead capture more information than you can likely process.

Instead, take a minimalistic approach. What are the half-dozen data points that truly move the needle when it comes to results? What if you simply required your team to capture those elements and nothing more? It means that you have to make hard choices, but narrowing the field to a small selection of data elements will increase usage. After all, your CRM is pointless if nobody uses it.

The more tightly you can integrate the CRM into existing functions like email and calendaring, the more you can automate tracking and ensure compliance from your team. You’ll be amazed at how much insight you gain into opportunities with a small amount of data.

It’s Your Turn

What do you see as the biggest obstacle to CRM adoption? What are the three most important pieces of data you think businesses should collect beyond basic demographics? Share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Zvi Band | The Truth About Using CRMs In Your Business

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