8 Easy CRM Tips and Tricks For Better Productivity

By Annie Andre | Updated: 08 Sep, 2015

If there's one thing we often see with our clients, it's that even though they know what customer relationship management tools are, they don't actually know how to use them.

Time and again, we see clients get a hold of a new CRM software platform from an expensive third-party service, only for those people to walk away once they're finished installing everything.

As a result, people don't actually get the most out of their programs, even best-of-breed packages like Salesforce, and their salespeople barely perform better despite the features. We solve this by training you on how to use these tools to your benefit.

CRM doesn't have to be difficult to understand. In fact, here is a look at some easy ways to get these tools to work for you and your sales team.

1. Have a plan for your sales processes

CRM tools are only as good as the data you put into them . If your sales processes don't quite match up in a Salesforce workflow, it may be because you haven't fully thought them out. Integrating your processes will enable you to actually work with the software, according to BeeCRM.

Start plotting out your sales process, using charts and maps if necessary. A simple structure could be:

  • Demand generation
  • Lead qualifying
  • Selling the product
  • Delivering the promised goods

In each phase, name all the actions that you can perform, using the order that's most functional. Once you have this all written down, you can create a workflow within your software that actually makes sense.

2. Work with someone who will help you learn the software

As we noted before, a lot of people just lack training on how to use Salesforce and other CRM tools. They have to play around until they get the workflows they want, and even then, they aren't realizing the maximum potential of the software. That's usually because of a weak implementation process.

While you can take the time to learn the software, it's inefficient to understand everything on your own time. If you work with an expert on the software, you'll be able to onboard much faster and get the promised results.

Related: 4 Ways Outsourcing CRM Management Can Boost Sales Productivity

3. Integrate CRM with other software you use regularly

What we often witness among clients is that they're uncomfortable using Salesforce, even when they are tech-savvy. To them, it's yet another step in between them closing a sale. 

One way of solving this problem is seamlessly integrating the tools with other software that you use daily. By creating a system where you're only running one or two programs at any given time, it's far easier to go through all the processes sales needs to perform, whether it's scoring leads for successful sales or drawing up a needs analysis for a potential customer.

For our part, we offer Cirrus Insight, which places Salesforce into your Gmail inbox. Our clients no longer open Salesforce regularly because they're already accessing it from their Gmail accounts.

4. Clean up your spreadsheets

Everyone has a love-hate relationship with spreadsheets. They can be powerful tools to address specific issues with the work you do, but they can be a pain to work with.

They're also filled with mistakes of various shades. CRM addresses a lot of the data entry and search issues you have with these sheets, but only if you have high-quality data.

So while you plan out your processes, you should take some time to look over the spreadsheets you're going to get rid of and make sure the data is clean.

Software developer Hatchbuck suggested looking for any mistakes that will show up in the CRM and cause problems. See what data is consistent with the client, whether the email addresses have the correct spelling, and ensure the info is error-free.

Also, take a look at what data is actually in the file. You may find that a lot of the information you have is unnecessary for the client going forward. Cleaner data means you'll have an easier time finding information.

Related: 5 Signs Your Business Has Outgrown Spreadsheets and Needs a CRM

5. Create a standard for data entry

Going back on those spreadsheets, you may have noticed an inconsistent pattern with how information was inputted. You may think that's not a big deal, but if that variability carries over to your CRM, you're going to have a hard time finding anything related to your clients, and you won't be unable to give them the proper attention they need at a critical moment.

Once you have a grasp of the software, you should work closely with your salespeople and virtual sales assistants to define what data gets placed within the CRM and how.

Start with the basic forms of entry, including names and addresses. From there, establish what forms you need most. Creating custom dropdown forms gives salespeople some leeway on what's important to them.

6. Define rules for writing names and other information into your database

Putting down names for contacts sounds like a simple task, but there is room for mistakes when there is no consistency in the entry.

If you search for a specific name in the CRM database, it may not show up if it was written in a format only the person who input the data understands. You'll end up with a lot of duplicates and missing records.

Create a rulebook that explains how each entry is placed. For example, you may have all abbreviations written out, or street names to have the directions abbreviated. You could enforce the removal of personal titles and middle initials. 

A standard method for writing names and addresses ensures the information is easier to search several months down the line. Your records will become more manageable as a result.

7. Avoid inputting and keeping too much information

CRM is a powerful tool. However, much like spreadsheets, it can get overwhelming to handle, even with the proper expertise.

A common complaint we see among clients is that they suffer from information overload because they add every detail from their contacts with clients. You don't have to make more work for yourself. IT Toolbox suggested you keep information limited to key reports.

Additionally, you should assess what required fields you can cut without risking data loss. That should help make communications much more streamlined.

8. Regularly update your CRM

Data can grow stale over time, even with CRM. You need to make adjustments regularly to ensure that information is fresh.

However, we find that it's easier to do it not as a separate task but as part of your workflow. In this way, you don't defer the task to a later date and time when you then forget key details. For example, you can update the CRM every time you send a mass email to customers and get a response from them. Since you're likely to input data from the replies anyway, you have a perfect opportunity to refresh what's there.

With CRM tools, you can do a lot more for your customers. Using these easy steps allows you to get better results without getting frustrated.

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