Define your CRM Priorities

17 March, 2017


What do we mean by CRM?

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a broad term that covers any business software system that help teams handle their customer interactions. Although CRM began with a focus on sales, leading CRMs are now robust Cloud technology platforms that span the entire customer lifecycle across marketing, sales, customer service, key account management, business intelligence and channel partner communities, to name a few.

More robust CRM platforms also have add-on applications for specific functions, such as quote and proposal generation, project management, HR, timesheets, live chat, field services, contract generation, marketing automation and more. Layer on top of that the ever-expanding capability of CRM platforms to connect to other business systems by application programming interface (API), and you're a long way from standard lead and opportunity pipeline management.

Think of CRM as a platform to build business processes

Where to begin?

Although the ultimate vision may be to bring your entire business onto a single, customer-centric platform that runs the whole show (or connects to your existing systems such as accounting, POS or ERP), it's best to begin by addressing a specific core function where your business is currently experiencing the most pain. Without a well-executed first project that delivers strong commercial wins, there won't be the momentum to expand the system into other areas of the business.

Let's look at some common business functions that typically come into a "phase 1" project in terms of their status-quo challenges and the solutions that a well-implemented CRM can deliver:


Status Quo (Spreadsheets)

Well-designed CRM (lead and opportunity management)

Leads falling through the cracks

Leads captured and auto-assigned, follow-up call cycles automated

Sales reps not following process

System built to enforce-best practice

Opportunities left with the “ball in their court”

Automated follow up prompts and proactive opportunity pipeline management

A lot of time writing emails and creating quotes

Workflow automation to template and send common responses, automated quote and proposal generation

Managers asking team why they’re not hitting target

Every meeting, email, call and task tracked and measured against KPIs and visualised in dashboards


Status Quo (Phone and email)

Well-designed CRM (case management)

Conversations lost in inboxes

All emails, online form submissions, phone calls and live chat queries created as cases

Reps unable to prioritise their caseload

Cases auto-arranged in order of priority based on business rules

Unable to track performance against SLAs

Milestones and entitlements set up to ensure each customer gets the right level of service

Takes a long time for customers to speak to the right person

Cases auto-assigned to the most suitable agent based on skillet, capacity and availability


Status Quo (batch-and-blast email marketing)

Well-designed CRM (marketing automation)

Marketing and sales operate independently without a joint strategy

Marketing and sales align sales process and marketing touch points into a cohesive customer journey

Emails get sent to the whole database

Customers are sent targeted, timely emails based on CRM data and content engagement

Marketing generates leads only at the point customers are ready to speak to sales

Campaigns are designed right the way through the customer journey, from researching, to solution selection, customer onboarding, cross-sell and upsell

Marketing only measures the cost-per-click or cost-per-lead of their digital marketing

Leads are tracked right the way through to a closed-won opportunity within CRM


Account management:

Status Quo (disjointed systems, reactive)

Well-designed CRM (integrated systems, proactive)

Customer information stuck in isolated silos

Integration for a single view of the customer, including orders, invoices, projects, opportunities, cases, marketing engagement

Account managers take orders when they come in

Accounts tiered, call cycles defined, insights served based on historical data, account managers become proactive and insight-driven

Customers have unresolved service issues the account manager isn’t aware of

Account managers are alerted and collaborate on resolution

Account planning is ad hoc or non-existent

Plans are put in place, KPIs are set and tracked with visual dashboards

In the first instance, you don't need to have your requirements fully defined. You just need clarity on which functions of your business you'll be focusing on so you can begin assembling your project team.

Continue to the next post in this series: How to assemble your CRM project team