CRM is a discipline, not a tool

October 1, 2013 - 10:24am -- John Locke

Whether you realize it or not, you're doing CRM already. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has become a hot buzzword that all kinds of businesses desperately want. I think the perception is that a CRM will somehow magically bring in sales, coordinate sponsors, manage members, fix your business.

There is no magic here, only hard work.

A CRM system is simply a collection of tools that are designed to help you keep track of your customers, members, constituents, whatever. The popular ones come with opinions on how to do this out of the box -- but these are other people's opinions, not yours. To make a CRM truly effective, you need to sit down and work out what works for you, and how a system can help.

The great thing about using Drupal for CRM is how easy it is to build in behavior that you need. Here are a couple of recent examples of what we've done to make our Drupal CRM work for us:

Build a "Customer Opportunity Matrix," and filter by last executive contact date

I've been participating in a coaching program called "Results Driven" with John Marshall. One exercise we've been working on recently is called an Opportunity Matrix, to better know your customer. The idea is to have a table showing a summary of each of your customers containing metrics relevant to your business. We're tracking overall revenue, revenue we've received from this customer, a rating of our relationship, how tech-savvy this customer is, where they fall on a risk-averse - opportunity mindset scale, what their 5 year revenue target is, what's constraining their growth, and more.

One key change we're making in the business is to get me in front of customers more, where I can tease out their business goals and how we might build a system to support them.

So given this need, I scripted a data import from our bookkeeping system that now synchronizes customer data into our CRM -- date of first invoice, date of last invoice, total revenue. I added a field for "last executive contact", and now I'm schedule meetings or phone calls to have these strategic conversations.

And in the CRM, I can now pull up a list of customers who have been active in the past 6 months but with no executive contact in the past 3 months, and reach out to them to schedule a meeting.

Find opportunities that need followup

Over the past year or so that we've been using this CRM, we have some 60 open opportunities. Most of these are pretty stale -- but we don't really know what their status is, because after an initial flurry of communication, they just dropped away when the prospect didn't respond to an email or call.

Obviously, here's where discipline comes into question -- how do we build a discipline to not let these opportunities fall by the wayside?

We decided that what we needed was a way to pull up all open opportunities sorted by the last time we made contact with them. So first we had to add a "last contact" field to the opportunity.

We have an "Activity" type in our CRM where we track our emails, phone calls, meetings, and proposals to a client. These activities have a date, and can be marked completed. So there was a very easy step to automate -- when an activity is marked complete, update the last contact date on any corresponding opportunities.

Now our opportunities report shows us this information, helps us follow up on opportunities that have gone stale. And guess what -- in the past month, this has helped us close 2 new deals, deals we might not have gotten otherwise!

Build a CRM for your needs

This is the hard work of building a CRM. "Finished" CRM systems like SalesForce and SugarCRM might do a lot of these things out of the box, but if you don't know how to use them, if you don't get into the discipline of using them, that functionality is worthless.

To make a CRM project a success, you have to start with the people who are going to use it. If they have any sales or account management experience, they will tell you what they need, and that's where you should start with CRM. In many cases, starting with a CRM that has built up all these little rules for another business might be useful for getting ideas, but it's often overwhelming and counterproductive to adopting as you go.

Building a CRM bit by bit, with functionality created as you know you need it, will help it grow into a really organic part of your business, and help your business succeed! But this starts with forming habits, automating practices, and identifying what data is useful to help your business grow.

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Comments

Submitted by Micheal (not verified) on

Your provided information is very nice and very informative for web development. CRM has endless contest to improve software development process and more efficient in delivering outstanding value to customers. Agile CRM is a complete sales & marketing CRM for small businesses.

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