When should you start using a CRM?

CRM (customer relationship management) software is a tool designed to help companies manage interactions with customers. It can send notifications when it is time to follow up a contract or notify your sales team when a consumer completes a specific action, such as downloading a white paper or signing up for a free trial. 

Other features might include automated email campaigns, workflow management, and real time sales data. 

The problem many companies face is that onboarding a complex CRM, like Salesforce, can be an incredibly time consuming, not to mention the high financial investment. 

As a result, many companies spend months or years losing leads, providing less-than-stellar customer service, and seeing high customer churn rates. 

When is the right time to implement a CRM? Are there certain processes you should have in place beforehand? 

7 Signs That Your Company Need a CRM System 

Many companies wait too long to implement a CRM. They deal with chaos for months or even years before finally buckling down and choosing a system. As a result, they lose leads, provide subpar customer service, and overwork their employees. 

Implementing a CRM is a critical business decision, and it can be a large investment. Putting it off might feel easier. The truth is, you could be losing thousands in sales by failing to use a CRM. 

To get the most out of your CRM, make sure you have the following information and processes in place before implementation.  

  • Buy-in: Make sure key stakeholders have a deep understanding of the benefits a CRM will provide. This can help ensure team members buy-in. 
  • Understanding of the Problem: What problem (or problems) will the CRM solve? 
  • Features and Needs: What features does your company need? Email automation, sales forecasting, workflow automation, analytics tracking? 
  • Training and Implementation Plan: Who needs access to the system? How will each team learn to use the system? How will management encourage adoption?

Once you have these systems in place, it is time to dive in. But how do you know it's time? Here are seven signs it is time to take the plunge and get a CRM. 

Critical Data is Getting Lost  (or Can't Be Fully Leveraged)  

Building a strong relationship with your customers is about more than remembering their names and numbers. It is about remembering what they purchased, following up on additional sales opportunities, and providing integrated customer service. 

The days of a paper Rolodex are gone, but many teams still rely on outdated modes of tracking customer relationships. If you are using tools like Google Doc or locally stored spreadsheets, the data is likely to get lost and is inaccessible to other team members. 

A CRM provides a centralized location for all customer data— their last purchase, who called them most recently, their preferences, their last email, and signed contracts. In addition to centralizing this data, a CRM goes a step further to help companies strengthen customer relationships by highlighting trends and even tracking leads.

Lack of Insight Into Your Sales Team's Performance 

Sales metrics are critical to the success of your company. If you are unsure or unable to track what is working in your sales department, it is high time to get a CRM. 

For example, how much time do your most effective sales reps spend selling? How quickly do reps respond to leads? Are leads more effective in the first 24 hours? 

You can't improve your sales stats when they aren't even being tracked. 

A CRM makes it easier for sales reps to log data, such as call information, and provides a more granular look into their day to day activities. This information can then be analyzed, providing insight into what works and what doesn't. 

In addition to providing insights into sales team performance, a CRM may help streamline the sales process by automating email follow-ups, managing access, creating and managing tasks, and even forecasting sales data. 

Lack of Insight Into Your Sales Team's Performance 

Employees Are Bogged Down With Menial Tasks 

Did you know that, on average, salespeople spend just 36 percent of their time actually selling? That means salespeople are spending 85 percent of their workweek on other tasks. You hire salespeople to sell and customer service reps to provide customer service. Yet too often they waste valuable time managing customer data instead of actually doing their jobs. 

If employees are spending too much time logging phone calls, checking on email campaigns, and checking the status of contracts, it is time to get a CRM. Many of these processes can be automated, and centralizing the content makes it easier to quickly check the status of an email campaign or verify that a contract was signed on time. 

Customer Service Is Reactive, Not Proactive 

By increasing the information available to all team members, a CRM allows your service team to address issues before they arise, which can reduce customer frustration. A reactive approach focuses on repairing, while a proactive approach is focused on preparation. Which do you think your customers would prefer? 

Here is a simple illustration of this in practice. Say your best customer pays their monthly fee by credit card every month, but the card is about to expire. 

Without a CRM/Reactive Approach: The card expires, and the next monthly fee is declined. No one notices for several weeks, and the customer only calls in when their account is suspended. They are left without access to a critical tool or supplies. A new card is added to the account, and service is restored. 

With A CRM/The Proactive Approach: Your CRM notifies you that the customer's card is set to expire, so a customer service rep reaches out to ask for the updated card information. There is no late payments and no gap in service. 

A CRM will help your team be proactive rather than reactive, which results in a better customer experience. 

Information is Siloed 

When companies are small, information is often easily shared between the two or three people who need access to specific data. That is easy enough when your sales and marketing teams are just two to three people in total. 

But, as companies grow, the individualized data storage approach can limit collaboration and hinder customer service. When the marketing team doesn't know what sales is offering, for example, customers get frustrated. 

For example, say a customer is struggling to implement your software. Your onboarding team is working to rectify the process, but it is taking time. Then your sales team, unaware of the issue, reaches out to sell them an upgraded product. Not really the right time to push an upgrade, but how was your sales team to know? 

If collaboration is difficult or non-existent, it is time to centralize your customer data into a CRM. This allows for a free flow of information between all departments, including customer service, sales, and marketing, which improves the overall customer experience. 

Information is Siloed 

Lack of Personalized Customer Service 

It is lunchtime, and you have two options— the new sandwich shop down the street that you've never tried, or your regular sports pub where they greet you by name and ask if you want "the usual." Which do you choose? Most of us would choose the place where we are treated to personalized service--even if the wait is a bit longer or the price a bit higher. 

Why? Because we like personalized service. We like to be seen as a human, not just another dollar in the register. In fact, 80 percent of consumers say they are more likely to buy from brands that offer a personalized experience. 

The right CRM platform does more than centralize information; it provides context for conversations. Your sales team, for example, can see that a customer hasn't responded to a follow-up email, your customer service rep can see they asked a question on social, and everyone can see they signed a contract last week. 

If you are treating all customers the same, or if customers are forced to repeat themselves every time they contact you, it is time to consider a CRM. The insights and information provided will make it easier to provide the personalized service your customers crave.

Your Company is Struggling to Grow 

Do you have a plan for future growth? Can your company handle an influx of new business or are your teams stretched thin now? Are sales reps failing to follow up on leads in a timely manner, resulting in lost revenue? 

If you are not confident that your current processes and workflows will support growth, it is time to consider a CRM. 

The right CRM is customizable to adapt to your current processes and will scale with your business as it grows. This may include automating email marketing, pre-set notifications to remind sales or customer service to follow up, and social network integrations so team members have the context they need to respond to questions quickly and accurately.

Final Thoughts 

So, when is the best time to get a CRM? For most companies, the best time was yesterday. The second best time is now! Startups, in particular, should choose a CRM right away to avoid the stress and growing pains of rebuilding workflows. 

Propeller is a full-featured Gmail extension CRM that helps startups reap the benefits of a CRM without wasting valuable time learning how to manage a complex CRM. All information shows up right in each team member's inbox, allowing them to provide stellar customer service and make critical business decisions quickly. 

Try Propeller Out Today

Free 14-day trial for the whole team. No credit card required.