I used a fairly sophisticated web-based CRM for more than a year, and then my former employer moved away from it to a more comprehensive software system for purchasing, receiving, production, and shipping. Unfortunately, this new software was a shadow of the CRM that I was used to as a salesman – spending the majority of every day on the phone calling leads, prospects, and customers. Before you make the potential mistake of downgrading the tools of your sales team, here are a few huge time-drains that I wasn’t used to dealing with when using a reasonably rich web-based CRM:
- No Shortcuts: a good CRM will allow you to navigate with one click to any of the main modules you will often visit: contacts, leads, customers, reports, funnel, and support. Our lesser software had none of these shortcuts, so if I was 4 screens into a contact, I had to hit the back button 4 times to get to the main page. Dashboards and “hot keys” are a HUGE time saver.
- Mass Communication/Actions: back in the good old days I could run a search, filter by date, age, region, size, etc. and send mass emails or schedule follow-ups for many, many contacts at once. The new software required single-click modifications and allowed no mass-modifications. I can’t tell you how much time I lost having to click 200 times to go into 40 tasks, edit, put in a new date, and hit save – day after day. A good CRM will allow you to grab a large number of leads/accounts/contacts and make changes all at once.
- Reports: an easy-to-use CRM will have ready-made basic reports, and an intuitive report creator to allow you to grab, sort, summarize (and VERY importantly – drill down), your data according to whatever metrics or filters you can create. Unless you want to lock yourself into the rigidity of an industry-specific CRM, you’ll need the ability to customize in whatever manner you see fit – and unless you have a programmer on staff, you need to be able to make these changes with ease. It’s a horrible feeling being “dead in the water,” as my former boss put it, not knowing where your sales team is for the current day, week, month, quarter, etc.
With the right kind of basic platform a CRM should be buildable and customizable to whatever extent the customer wants – and there’s no reason this should cost a bundle. Look for software that is easy to customize. Before you move to something with less power make sure you calculate the loss of productivity felt by staff when they no longer have the time-saving tools they used to be able to use. Take the lessons learned from my nightmare, and select a CRM that serves your staff not the other way around.