Choosing the Right CRM System in Today’s Digital-First World

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woman using a tablet with a crm holographic visual popping out of the tablet

The pandemic has accelerated the transition to a digital-first environment. As such, software and other cloud services are more important now than ever to ensure teams are in-sync and collaborating effectively.

To best meet these goals, CRM systems are leveraging new and emerging technology like AI to save time on manual data entry, and give their teams a competitive advantage. However, not all systems are created equal.

It is critical to choose a system that maximizes your efficiency – when it works well, your team’s increased productivity enables you to spend more time doing the work that matters (finding and closing opportunities). On the other hand, if you are not diligent in your search, you risk losing hundreds of hours of wasted effort and millions of dollars in misspent investment, and potentially a lost promotion and internal credibility.

Here are some steps to selecting the right CRM system for you:

Work backwards from your goal

Start by being clear about what you are seeking to achieve with a new CRM system. Consider what this helps the overall company accomplish and what this helps the individuals at your company accomplish. At the firm level, think about how adopting a deal flow management or relationship intelligence solution will change your firm as a result. For your team members, you should think about whether a CRM system will help free up their capacity to focus on strategic, mission-critical tasks – and whether it will help them do their jobs better.

Although you are thinking about system adoption from different perspectives, you should also directly consult with your teammates to better understand what success looks like for them and how a CRM system can help them achieve that.

Once you’ve got those goals identified, you’ll want to increase the level of detail by mapping out the workflows you’ll need in order to accomplish those objectives.  How do you get from data capture to the end goal (e.g. understanding your relationships with other companies, improving your sourcing)?

Reduce manual entry

Once you identify what you need to make decisions and produce reporting, rigorously identify where friction exists in capturing the information you need and seek ways to eliminate it. The most invisible, yet costly form of friction is behavior change – requiring significant behavior change is the leading reason why the adoption of CRM systems fails. If it is too complicated or challenging, your team won’t understand how to use it or see the value in using it.

A straightforward way to improve adoption rates is to take as much burden off your team by reducing data entry. Data entry is time-consuming, and errors are inevitable when it comes to human-entered data. To remedy this, CRM systems with AI-powered automation capabilities will free up your team’s time and boost data record accuracy.

Establish a single core source of information

Another common form of friction is having information and relevant context spread out across many different digital locations. When you store documents in various places, you’ll have to remember where you stored each piece of desired information and check all those places to make a single decision on a deal. Operating like this could lead to the loss of critical documents for compliance purposes, lower quality investment decisions, or missed opportunities because the team lacked relevant context to make the most informed decision. Ultimately, this could set up a shaky foundation for what is an organization’s strongest asset.

To address this, you’ll want a CRM system that can store all this information in one place. The capabilities this system will need include syncing with email and calendar data to track your collective team’s contacts and interactions, document storage to support decision-making, and note-taking for recordkeeping.

Adopt a flexible system

If there’s one constant in the world we live in, it’s change.  As a result, we need flexible processes to navigate the new people, new product use cases, new data to capture, and new ways to interpret it that emerge. Given the fluid nature of our work, a good CRM system should empower your team to make updates at any moment.

The ways you can identify flexible systems include those that enable the creation of new entry fields without technical support and the refiguring of data already in the system to visualize it in different ways. Supplementing these enablers would also be the automatic collection of the data you need from different sources – as information systems become more disparate, this will increase in strategic importance and value.

The prevalence of new software, data and AI is upgrading CRM systems to help businesses save time on data entry, while also helping them identify new opportunities to grow and succeed. With these steps in mind during selection and implementation, you’ll make your new system work best for you by providing a more streamlined process, time savings, and improved opportunity identification in today’s digital-first environment.

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