Playing the CRM Long Game to Achieve Financial Success

October 24, 2019 Nicole Sholly

The ultimate goal of your CRM is to make your team’s lives easier while also creating amazing experiences for your customers. 


Or are you getting CRM implemented (or enhanced) simply to see a big increase in ROI?

People jumping and celebrating with their silhouettes against a sunset

If you look at any of several studies from the last few years, you’ll know that companies purchase and implement a CRM for a handful of common reasons: to increase efficiency, improve customer experience (CX), increase revenue and ROI, acquire more customers and more qualified leads. Whatever your reason, you’re likely not alone.

Though the percentage points fluctuate year to year and study to study, the numbers for the above items generally range from 30% to 40% and up. Obviously, these issues are the important ones; you could even say they're integral to doing business. 

Getting a CRM up and running is a big undertaking. Getting it right is a must. But that’s hard to do . . . especially if too much emphasis is placed first on implementation and next on proving ROI, without enough focus on the users and operations sandwiched in between those two phases.

Looking beyond implementation to what drives value

We recommend dividing the problem into four pillars of success. The pillars all work together; you can’t ignore any one pillar without jeopardizing the others. It’s a four-step process in which you first attain implementation success, and then user success, followed by operational success and then (what you’ve been waiting for) financial success, the final pillar. 

How to realize full CRM value and close the experience gap four pillar approach

This post is the fourth in a series; previous posts focus on the first three pillars of success: 

Implementation: Experience matters — what is it now, and what do you want it to be?

User: Change management is key to helping users adopt new technology. 

Operational: Streamline processes to transform your team into a mean agile machine.

To build a solid foundation that leads to financial success, you need to implement the right technologies, strategies, and solutions that make sense for your people — and that can be integrated with your systems and processes. Essentially, that requires upholding the first three pillars, but the middle two are often ignored. 

The result is a loss in value created by the experience gap: Users don’t use the new tool, and operations aren’t totally integrated. The fourth pillar is never reached. Tend to the first three pillars, though, and you stand to enjoy long-term gains. 

Attaining financial success is possible, of course, but it requires time and taking a step back to ask three questions.

How do you define value?

If you don’t set out what it is you hope to gain from the CRM, you won’t know if you get it or not. You must determine what the goals are for the CRM: To increase brand awareness or lead generation? To aid in sales enablement or to enhance customer loyalty? All of these or something else?

Ideally, those goals will align with the overall business objectives of your organization. This way, your team and other departments are working with, not against, each other.

Have you set up a way to measure success?

How you measure success is closely tied to the previous question. Once you know what it is you’re measuring (and why it matters), you can devise a way — a formal and continuous process — to measure success and the value that’s created.

When you’re establishing and measuring goals, be realistic about your team’s abilities and your company’s overall maturity level — in other words, you need to start “where you’re at.” You can't run before you walk, so though it might be a tough call, you have to recognize if you’re not ready for a particular course of action. 

If, for example, your lead gen currently happens sporadically, you won’t transform overnight to using AI to track customer behavior, predict and create content based on that behavior, and then drive leads across channels. Moving from ad-hoc lead gen, however, to an inbound focus where you produce content for specific personas is doable.

Can you be patient?

Quick wins are fun and can be a great motivator to your team. You might even want a quick win or two to validate what you spent on that CRM. However, having the patience and long-term vision to acknowledge that driving value over time is way more important than a few quick wins shows that you recognize the importance of the project beyond implementation. 

Here again, though, you have to define what a quick win looks like to you, and you also have to determine a reasonable timeframe. Moving from your ad-hoc lead gen “strategy,” for instance, to developing personas and deciding what content to create for each one within six to eight months is a great step — and just might be fast enough.

The four-pillar approach that drives long-term CRM value

The better you can deliver on the undertaking, the more value your organization will reap — through your customers’ experiences and through your workers’ experiences. Both are necessary to realize (and exceed) the expected value of the CRM.

This four-pillar framework is in part meant to help teams understand their organization’s goals and devise a strategy that makes sense for them. To learn more about closing the CRM value gap, watch this video. Interested in hearing more about Appirio’s four-pillar approach to driving long-term value? Let’s talk.

About the Author

Nicole Sholly

With two decades of writing, editing, and author coaching experience, Nicole has written on topics ranging from big data security to improving employee workspaces to how to be a better wordsmith -- for Rackspace, Office Depot, Macy’s, Social Media Today, and others. When she’s not writing, editing, or otherwise playing with words, Nicole enjoys reading them.

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