There are certain aspects of business that we all agree on and must abide by. There are the formal, law-abiding practices we must all follow strictly to ensure we keep our noses clean and avoid run-ins with the taxman.
And then there are the more tried and tested routes to market such as creating and maintaining a USP, differentiating yourself in the industry and ensuring your employees are kept satisfied in a productive and motivating environment.
Present day priorities such as creating a loyal customer base via social media and getting your website to rank no.1 on Google came later – when people had new visions on how to promote themselves.
No one really sat down to write these rules though. There’s no business bible that one must follow in order to become successful and when you examine the countless different backgrounds and paths the most iconic entrepreneurs took to establish their businesses and grow to become household brands, it’s even more apparent that there’s no one-size-fits-all mould for making money.
Why abbreviations needn’t mean shortcomings
SEO, PPC, CRM – if you’re not up-to-date with the latest ways of reaching customers, tracking leads and chasing sales, does that mean you’ll get left behind?
Well, yes and no. If you’ve written your own rules and have a product/service that sells like hot cakes whatever the season, regardless of changes in trends and climates, your sales are probably pretty stable. But stable isn’t always safe, we all need to be revising our business objectives to ensure the rewards outweigh the efforts otherwise you start to wonder exactly why you’re putting so many hours in and getting nothing in return.
Again, no one sat down and briefed people about the key advertising and sales management strategies of Search Engine Optimisation, Pay Per Click or Customer Relationship Management. Businesses just tended to jump on board after realising their potential for success.
To avoid CRM failures why not take a look at this CRM ‘Project Pitfalls’ advice which can be applied to firms of all sizes.
If you see the bandwagon, is it too late?
Smaller companies that see the CRM bandwagon disappearing off into the distance might feel like they’ve missed the boat though (and without a boat or a bandwagon, how are they going to arrive at their end goal?).
With so many companies out there promising bigger and better things at more competitive prices, with better support and easier to integrate systems, it’s tough to just pick one. And if budgets are tight, investing in something that you’re not 150% sure about might set alarm bells ringing as risky business.
But CRM needn’t be that complex. Of course, it’s scalable – there are bigger systems for bigger businesses and additional features when current goals have been met. Yet to make the most of your CRM, the key is to keep it simple and build as you progress.
Simplicity is not everything though – you can have a simple CRM system that’s still cluttered with bad data. To really make the most of it you must focus on keeping clean, precise data. Poorly maintained databases result in lots of inefficiency whether you need to run reports for analytics or even a simple task like printing out addresses for a DM campaign.
Follow these tips to keep the process streamlined and you’ll be able to keep track of everything without feeling overwhelmed. It’s your mantra for making the most of your CRM – be disciplined with yourself and your co-workers and your database will be easier to work with and more rewarding:
- Make sure you enter only the data you need into your CRM and filter out what looks like junk right at the start. People have a habit of dumping entire excel or csv sheets of leads, accounts and contact data which hasn’t been screened before upload for junk data which may be completely unnecessary.
- Run your data through a normalisation process and format all the data well in the csv file or sheet before you upload it to your CRM. It’s a lot quicker and it can save you from having to access several accounts and check the data online once it has already been assigned to various user accounts and campaigns.
- Label all campaigns and sets of uploaded data items with a standard company wide naming convention, which is clearly understood by users and ensures that every record is assigned correctly. As simple as it may seem, a lot of accounts have data that is simply uploaded and in time nobody knows to which source it came from, which campaign it belongs to or whose lead it is.
- Follow a standard convention across all users for entering data such as account names, postal addresses, job titles etc. It standardises formats and makes things easier while printing reports or direct mail campaigns.
- Look for missing data elements like a missing phone number or missing post codes in the address preferably before uploading the data or at least while entering an individual record. Appending missing data at an earlier stage when there are fewer records to handle is a lot easier than having to go through the entire database and then look for what’s missing.
- Ensure that users update the status of a company, lead or opportunity every time some activity is performed. If these are not updated the reports run on this data will yield inaccurate results.
- Run regular audits for data quality and carry out a data cleansing effort periodically (at least once every quarter). If you can do it more frequently, there will be less data which needs to be updated or cleansed and the data will stay in better shape.
About The Guest Author: Laura Abrar developed her career in public relations and communications with global leading and challenger technology brands, as well as in digital marketing with SMEs in the United Kingdom.
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