Whether you are new to using a CRM or a veteran user, there are always ways to improve your workflow. Part of what makes a CRM so great is that it stores all the information you need in one place—but only if you put it there first. The earlier you implement good habits with your CRM use, the more likely they are to stick. And the better quality data you have in your CRM, the more the software can do for you.
If you’re looking for ways to improve your CRM use, potential new policies to implement when training new users, or just a great list of best practices, this post is for you. We’ve come up with these best practices through years of experience and by talking to our own users and asking them what works. If you feel you’ve been slipping in your CRM habits, prepare to get inspired.
Build a history
Contact information alone isn’t enough to maintain meaningful relationships. Enter a note every time you talk to someone. Pull in other kinds of meaningful data: emails, files, relationships with other contacts. Detailed record keeping in the CRM will not only put all your data in one, easy to reach place, but it will help you build momentum with clients. Instead of spending thirty minutes on the phone playing catch up with a client, you can make a detailed reference to a past conversation (like their upcoming anniversary or annual vacation) and continue to improve your relationship in more meaningful ways. Your contact history will also serve as an instant refresher if a customer calls out of the blue. The customer will think you have an excellent memory and feel special, to boot.
Where to start: make CRM use a daily habit. Record your notes and pipeline updates as soon as your conversation is over, and not at the end of the week. You can schedule CRM time into your calendar to make sure you’ve left all your notes and completed all of your tasks for the day.
Always have a follow up scheduled
Building meaningful relationships with leads and customers takes work and time, so why not save yourself from more of both and keep a schedule full of follow ups? If you schedule a follow up after every interaction with a client—even if it’s only for a check-in a year from now—you’ll never have to worry about your schedule again. If you have opportunities scheduled every day, you will always be working towards building your relationships, and you’ll never lose touch with a contact.
Where to start: filter your contacts by those who haven’t been updated recently, and start scheduling your follow up tasks from there! Or, filter your leads to show those without tasks, and start scheduling follow ups. You can also try scheduling follow ups with customers after sales and as a small 'thank you' for being a customer.
Never delete anything
It may be tempting to clean up your data and delete contacts that you no longer find useful. It’s easy to get a little overzealous when you start using a fun, new organization tool. However, deleting contacts in your CRM is not only unnecessary, given that most have plenty of storage for all your data, it might actually hurt your business. The bottom line is, you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future of your company. Deleting a contact is like deleting a relationship. The phrase “Don’t burn bridges” applies to CRM contacts, too. The contact you didn’t find useful in 2016 may turn out to be a top lead in 2017, and you’ll regret tossing all their info away. So, don’t turn into another cliché and accidentally throw the baby out with the bathwater. A surplus of contacts can make your CRM feel overcrowded, however, so make sure to read our next best practice for the solution!
Where to start: implement a CRM rule for you and your team: never delete a contact. If you'd like, manage user permissions to prevent your team from deleting any data. If you want to make sure you don’t call certain people or that former customers are distinguished from current customers, create groups for “Archived” and “Do not contact” records. Also, find inactive contacts in your CRM by following these instructions.
Use pipelines to stay focused
If you’re never going to delete anything in your CRM, how can you make sure that you keep tabs on the contacts who matter most to your company right now? The answer: pipelines. Pipelines track each contact’s status in a particular process, whether that be the initial sale, the follow-up to hook them as a repeat customer, or any other procedures that are a regular part of the way your business functions. Each process has its own pipeline, and you can attach multiple pipelines to a single contact record. However, you might only have a few high priority leads in a pipeline—you can mark these as important, and make sure to fast-track their progress through the pipeline.
Where to start: use your pipelines to track repeat sales, customer feedback, billing, deals, and more. Sit down and brainstorm what kinds of workflows you’d like to track in the CRM, and then map them out (like we did in this article). Even if you’re not in sales, there are plenty of processes you might want to keep in your CRM. If you need help setting up your pipelines or getting organized in the CRM, schedule a demo call with one of LACRM’s coaches!
Take advantage of manager oversight
Consolidate your management systems in one place: your CRM. Forget extra paperwork and unnecessary errors and confusion. Ask for reports from the CRM data, use administrative privileges to monitor employees’ work, and assign leads and tasks within your CRM’s calendar. When you can see activity going into the CRM in real time, you can spend more time on meaningful collaboration, and less time on double-checking an employee’s progress. What’s more, you can use the CRM as a way to streamline your sales processes. Reps can claim leads and earn more responsibility based on their performance in the CRM.
Where to start: check out our tips for collaborating with your team using the CRM. For meetings and performance reviews, pull reports from the CRM, or use your pipelines to calculate your conversion rate, bottlenecks in your sales process, and the value of your leads.