So here we are in the summer of 2015. And in a crowded and highly competitive marketplace effective business development is essential. But, although many firms I visit have CRM systems, they are only using them in a limited way – for example, for email marketing – which is to ignore the significant contribution they can make in other areas.
Of course, when the system was purchased, the primary requirement may have been for an easy-to-use marketing communications tool. But continuing to use the system in that way is like always driving your car in first gear. It may get you to where you’re going eventually, but it will be a lot slower and more painful than if you use all the gears and there will be a lot of people who get there before you. So how can you go about repositioning your CRM system to deliver greater value?
Firstly don’t be afraid to tell the truth. Repositioning isn’t a negative activity, it’s a positive response to changing market and business circumstances. As new business strategies are developed and adopted so a new business development approach is required. And your usage of your CRM system needs to evolve too.
Sell the sizzle
Secondly, sell the sizzle to the organisation by ensuring they fully understand what the system is capable of and, more importantly, how it can make their life easier.
For personal assistants that may mean showing them how it prevents duplication and delivers reports that make their fee earner, and ultimately them, look good. For fee earners it may be how the system will uncover opportunities and gain them new instructions.
For business development teams it may be how they can run key client programs, undertake industry specific prospecting, manage the opportunity pipeline and show the wider business the value they are generating.
Whatever it is make sure they are aware of its full capabilities. Too often I come across situations where firms are restricting their use of the CRM system because they simply don’t know what it can do.
The third step is making the system as personal as possible, setting it up so that it is aligned and relevant for each role in your firm. This may mean customising system views and reports, for example, or configuring processes slightly differently, but the fact is that the more it helps make individuals’ roles easier to fulfil, the higher the adoption rate will be.
Train, train, train
Finally make sure your training is frequent, relevant, customised to each person’s role and easy to access. Classroom training will not be for everyone, particularly those with busy travel schedules.
Rather than just delivering ‘point and click’ instruction, make sure you contextualise your training so that everyone in the firm understands how the system supports your wider business development strategy. Remember, too, that training not only helps people use the system more effectively, it also reminds them of its ability to make their job easier, which will encourage usage.
If your existing CRM system is already being used successfully, but in a limited way, repositioning is a viable option for revitalising its usage and delivering extra value to the business.
Next time we’ll look at how and why you might want to think about re-launching your CRM system instead.