We know your dirty little secret. You’re not using your CRM to its full potential. Maybe you’re not using it at all. Yes, that’s bad for business. No, you’re not alone.
CRM usage statistics are a real mixed bag. 91% of companies with 10 employees or more have adopted a CRM. Yet, 22% of salespeople claim not to know what a CRM is, and 40% of companies aren’t using them. They’re sticking with good old email and spreadsheets.
Let’s briefly channel a Brené Brown podcast here: We’re going to acknowledge the shame of underutilizing your CRM, but we’re not going to get stuck in it. Instead, we’re going to get vulnerable about what you know and what you need to know about CRMs.
“Today’s cloud-based CRMs meet the current and future needs of your business while helping your employees work smarter.”
Here’s the takeaway: Today’s cloud-based CRMs meet the current and future needs of your business while helping your employees work smarter. We have 5 CRM features guaranteed to convince even your most stuck-in-their-spreadsheet-ways end users to embrace the future of work. But first, let’s start with the companywide picture. Here’s how CRM can help your business meet its growth, automation, and marketing goals:
Why Should Enterprise Embrace CRM?
We all know CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. A CRM is a software system that helps you find, win and retain customers by tracking data and interactions. But, here at MOM, we’ve always found that definition a little too limiting. CRMs don’t just track customers. They can track anything that is vital to your business. And since they moved into the cloud, CRMs have become development platforms, easy places to create any additional functionality your business needs to optimize operations.
Once you’ve tailored your CRM to your business, you will be able to collect more data about your customers than ever before. That is particularly important now that artificial intelligence is hitting its stride. Machine learning can help you sift through large data sets to find patterns and trends. Predictive analytics will enable you to anticipate your customers’ needs before they even realize they have them. But you can only access this magic by convincing your people to adopt a centralized, accessible platform that updates in real-time.
Scale Beyond Spreadsheets
We know some brilliant salespeople, and we’ve seen some amazing spreadsheets, but if all your customer data is locked up in employees’ heads and Excel workbooks, your growth capacity is limited. You can only go so far. We had a client doing $50 million in business with a sales department operating solely on spreadsheets. They came to us for a CRM because they knew they were going into a period of growth, and the spreadsheets wouldn’t be able to keep up. Sooner or later, everyone hits a spreadsheet wall.
There is no limit to the number of contacts or fields in a cloud-based CRM. You can configure it to track all kinds of data points and relationships. Your whole team can access and contribute to it from anywhere, securely. Whether employees are in the main office, the home office, or on the road. Whether they’re using a desktop, tablet, or mobile device. There is always a single source of truth being updated automatically. And it’s supported remotely by the experts who built the product.
Integrate to Automate
If your company is one of the over a million worldwide using the Microsoft Office 365 suite, it probably makes sense to embrace Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales, the CRM that integrates natively with Outlook, Word, Excel, SharePoint and Teams. You’ll be amazed at how much document storage and workflow automation happens behind the scenes.
We’ll give you a peek behind the MOM curtain to illustrate this point. When we onboard a new client, the point of contact uploads a signed statement of work into our system, presses a button, and Dynamics 365 goes into our network and creates a project folder, all the usual subfolders, and even files the SOW in the right place. Similarly, when your team converts an opportunity to a sale, your system could be configured to send the executed NDA and MSA to the development team to kick off whatever action needs to happen next.
You can see how Dynamics 365 imposes order on enterprise-wide operations, but some of the coolest automations made possible by an integrated ecosystem are personal workflows. We’ll discuss those in detail below when we explore the features that will convince your people to abandon their archaic spreadsheets. Basically, integrating your platform enables the automation that ensures you only ever have to enter data once. That’s the future of work.
Market to the Whole Customer
No matter how many tabs, cross-references, and macros you have, a 360°-view of the customer just isn’t possible with spreadsheets. A well-configured CRM can track boatloads of data across digital channels, social media, and online chats. It builds detailed consumer profiles so you can see who your customers are at work, at play, online and in real life.
Once you’ve used your CRM (and its native AI) to segment and target your audience, you can use it to build email campaigns too. All the major cloud-based CRMs offer plenty of plug-ins to access Constant Contact, Mailchimp, Drip, Zoho, etc. You can design and execute dynamic email campaigns seamlessly. Forget those old, awful days of downloading your contacts from Outlook into an Excel .CSV file to import to your email marketing platform every month. Let your CRM coordinate all your marketing efforts and track the results.
Sell Your Team on CRM
Using your CRM to its full potential is the smart business decision for the efficiency and growth of your enterprise, but if your people don’t embrace it, you’ll be stuck emailing spreadsheets back and forth for eternity. Lucky for you, Microsoft is constantly adding functionality that will entice even the biggest skeptics. But you have to show these end users what’s possible. Let employees explore new CRM features and get comfortable with them.
Here are our current favorite selling points for end users, but the speed of CRM innovation is dizzying right now, so ask us again in a month:
- Automated Data Entry: In a Microsoft shop, all your tools talk to each other. If you get an email or a chat from someone in Outlook or Teams, you can use Dynamics 365’s Quick Create (+) button to make that person a contact, lead or account. One click and all your data entry is done for you. The CRM scans the message for all contact info (including the signature line treasure trove) and uses it to automatically populate a new entry.
- Customizable: End users can configure their CRM experience to see as many or as few data points as they want. Dashboards will look very different even within the same department because everybody works differently, and that’s okay. Encourage users to personalize their CRM experience. It’s like interior decorating, only use the stuff that makes you feel at home.
- Universal Search: Thanks to the tight integration with Outlook, Teams and SharePoint, the search tool within Dynamics 365 is simply excellent. It will return hits from any and all components of your ecosystem: contacts, accounts, emails, attached files, etc. No more app switching as you frantically search for that one thing you swear you saw just yesterday.
- Customer Insights: This Dynamics 365 add-on is a game changer because it collects all your client data in one view and canvasses the web to bring you their latest news. For example, connectors with LinkedIn and other social channels will alert you to new projects, grants, or acquisitions that might up your value proposition. Imagine the conversation with a prospect: “Hey, I just saw you acquired ABC Corp. Congrats! You know, they’re a client of ours. Great group. We’d love to help you bring them on board.”
- Viva Sales: Viva is Microsoft’s newest seller experience you have to see to believe. When you make a call in Teams, of course you can see all related client info in the same view, and now the AI is working overtime. It transcribes your call, maps positive and negative sentiments expressed throughout the meeting, and even flags action items for follow-up.
These 5 CRM features function like personal assistants for each member of your team, handling the data entry, research, and organization. Users can focus on the higher-value relationship building that grows your business.
Spreadsheets are for numbers, not people. A fully integrated and well-configured CRM drives growth by organizing enterprise operations, capturing 360°-views of your customers, and empowering your employees. They get to spend their time making human connections, not populating cells.
Your CRM can give you a leg up on the competition, but you have to use it. With today’s new, AI-fueled functionality, there has never been a better time to convince your team to shelve the spreadsheets and embrace CRM.
About the Authors
Eddie Jenkins’ love affair with tech started when his grandparents bought him an Apple IIc. A computer-aided drafting course led to his first job in construction, but hanging off the side of a log home, swinging a hammer in 4 a.m. sleeting rain, convinced him it was time to lean into a technology career indoors.
Since earning his Information Technology degree from Towson University, Eddie has held positions from software developer to CIO across two-plus decades of IT project experience. He is a natural leader who develops high-performing teams and optimizes systems to help organizations achieve their key strategic goals.
When Eddie leaves the office for the day, he goes home to a family of early adopters embracing life with robot vacuums, electric vehicles, and 3D printers. In his free time, he does triathlons and waits for his Rivian delivery.
As a tween in Annapolis, computer science was in Phil Wong’s blood. His big brother came back from coding boot camp anxious to show off all he’d learned, and the two built simple games together in DOS. By high school, Phil had graduated to after-school computer club where he developed his programming skills and studied for the AP computer science exam. A bachelor’s from University of Maryland Baltimore County launched Phil’s career as a developer. But it was presiding over a national nonprofit’s migration to Dynamics, developing and administering the CRM for 5 years, that made him an expert.
Now, as a MOM solutions architect, Phil loves solving people’s business problems in efficient and elegant ways. His affinity for puzzles means he enjoys collecting the pieces of the situation on the ground, doing the research, and assembling the best way forward.
When he’s not working, you can find Phil lost in the miniature world of Warhammer 40,000 or snuggling with his extra-fluffy calico. (Don’t call her chubby!)