Do you need help picturing how CRM supports your work process and sales objectives? Think of the sales and marketing department as an order factory, and CRM as the assembly line.
Envision an order factory
Consider what happens in a factory. There are inputs–parts and raw materials. Over time, the raw materials are subjected to different processes. Some processes are automated. Some processes are performed by skilled labor. And some are a combination.
Over time the raw materials take shape and begin to resemble the finished product. Along the way, defective materials get pulled off the assembly line–discarded or sent back to the beginning. At the end of the assembly line emerges the finished goods.
The factory assembly line is a fair analogy for a CRM process. Leads, referrals and web visitors enter at one end (raw materials). Over time different processes occur. The CRM performs some processes, such as email campaigns, newsletters, or invitations to events. A salesperson performs some processes–like appointment setting, asking qualifying questions, drafting and sending proposals. The CRM and salesperson work in tandem in some areas, such as sales follow-up after CRM reminders. Over time, the poor leads (defectives) get discarded or renurtured, and quality leads convert to opportunities (work in process). Opportunities move forward according to their process and become orders or contracts.
Think about factory reporting
Quantities of different raw materials, the value of work in process, estimated completion dates, and finished goods–all of these are tracked in an accounting or ERP system. The same goes for leads and opportunities in a CRM system. We can see how many people, deals, or quotes are in the sales pipeline and at what stage. Pipeline reports or dashboards tell us how much revenue is sitting in each stage of sales production.
If sales production is slowing down somewhere, it could be a people problem, a process problem, a lead-quality problem, or an automation problem. Managers can look at CRM reports to gain insights and take corrective action. And, armed with real data, managers can make smart recommendations to upper management.
Try imagining your CRM as part of an order-making assembly line. It may help you reimagine what a new CRM should do or how your current CRM should change.
By Mark Abes, Vice President, Dyn365Pros, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement partner, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Southern California