Digital Transformation for SALES: 8 “ToDo’s” before choosing a CRM

EBS Integrator
Sep 3, 2021,

Since our quill-master declared war against spreadsheets, lists and word documents, for the benefit of digital transformation, you got to learn a thing or two about CRMs, ERPs, Data Centricity and many other goodies that boost your organisations’ performance “to the next level”. You would think ”trouble melts like lemon drops” once you’ve implemented a CRM, or any other workflow management software. Alas, as you already know, the yellow brick road to data centricity is bumpier and somewhat longer than many would expect.

Graphical user interface, text, application, chat or text message Description automatically generated

Hi – I’m Alex and I know a thing or two about implementing CRMs. I’m no cowardly lion or heartless tin man (tho’ I could resemble a scarecrow in some particular instances). To your journey, I’ll be a guide towards implementing the very first Customer Relationship Management System.

Before we dive in

You should understand there is no perfect CRM for your business. Most of the solutions out there, force your workflow into their system design. This is why it is very important to “click your heels three times” and onset to a journey through your business process first.

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As a consultant I have implemented over 15 CRM instances before getting “married” to EBS. What I have learned is that no implementation is the same. Accents and focus areas vary, sales processes vary, price books, products, quote line items, terms, conditions – all vary from one aria to another. This makes that spreadsheet to CRM leap somewhat challenging – but it does not have to be.

Resistance to Change: a CRM journey

The shift is somewhat similar to mapping your organisations’ processes. And here, we’re stepping on the same rake. Everyone wants change, tho’ aren’t quite ready to change themselves. Implementing a CRM is more about people than technology. You would argue that It’s a tech thing and you are, in part, right.

However, tech comes only after a top-to-bottom culture shift occurs. The right signal emerges when your teammates switch their decision making from “a gut feeling” perspective to predictable actions governed by data. The rest are just details.

Get everyone onboard with the CRM idea

On average, 70% of CRM deployments fail. There are about a dozen reasons, but one of them stands out. In most of the cases: Leaders cannot get everyone on board. Deploying a CRM or ERP is most and foremost about breaking habits, making sense of whatever data you have and knowledge sharing.

Failure Rates: a CRM Implementation Perspective

When everyone understands what you are attempting to do, how it increases conversion rates and turnover, and why everyone should use it, adoption becomes easier. Executive orders won’t force people to use the CRM. The premise of a bigger sale bonus in base of the increased conversion, might just work.

It all depends on how well you’ve sold this internally, understanding if the team is ready for this leap and working together. Your teammates will follow if the CRM works for them, not the other way around.

Find your CRM allies

Getting everyone on board, might not be enough. You need allies across your entire organization. Think about it as of “The Three Musketeers” – All for One and One for All! Since the CRM will focus on your Relationship with the end-customer, everyone on the communication line must opt in.

Finding Allies - a CRM struggle

Data centric systems are either used by all or none. The CRMS is not an exception to that rule. Keep your allies close and sceptics closer. For the last ones, sooner or later, the benefits will outline, but only if you allies will be there.

Clarify your sales strategy before implementing a CRM

This one is crucial. You will not benefit much from deploying a CRM if you have no clue about whom you are selling to, what you are selling and how you’re selling it.

The “shoe salesman” strategies are long forgotten and at least according to Cold Calling seems to be dead. Or is it!?

On average, cold-calling conversions are at 0.03%. That doesn’t mean yours will be the same. Whatever hasn’t been tested is an assumption and one that seeks to implement a CRM, must replace those with predictive measurements.

a CRM meme: No sales Workflow

“Get in bed” with your customer and try walking a mile in his shoes. Feel his purchasing experience and align that sales pipeline to solve those client pain points. Define the main backbone of your process around your customer.

If you don’t have the right background, just hire a sales consultant that will deploy your initial sales kit. There’s no shame in that. An educated workflow is always better than playing a guessing game. Once you’ll get started, there’s always space to build-up.

Project “The CRM difference” for your business

A CRM is no longer a database that stores sales related data. It evolved to a tool that drives actual impact on your workflow. Review your process map and see what could be automated in full or at least partially. Check which data entry routines could be augmented and which ones should be deemed as “subjective” decisions that require human processing.

At the same time, eliminate sales “pop-quiz” events. After all, you’re planning for a CRM deployment. That means all those routine discussions that focus on “How’s that client?”; “Did you close that sale?; “What about that deal?” should obliviate.

Each of these should be clear from within the CRM – otherwise, you’re doing it wrong. Duh! No wonder your sales reps spend only a quarter of their time selling. The rest of it is consumed by your micro-managing pipeline. You’d be surprised, but it happens to the best of us. Just find those micro-management habits and put an end to each and every one of them.

Learn the CRM/Sales slang

If you had a consultant build your sales backbone, this one might be covered. Otherwise, learn to distinguish between “targets”, “leads”, “accounts”, “opportunities”, “quotes” and/or “deals”. Like it or not, this will be paramount later on, when you’ll have to scale-up.

Metrics - a CRM edge

Most of those fancy metrics you’ve heard about, like: NPS, LTV, LTP, Percentage of Revenue, Market Penetration, ARPA, ARR/MRR, TAM, Win Rate, YOY Growth, etc – originate from that clear division and classification. If you’ll ignore the slang now, you will regret it later. Chances are, you will calculate manually each of those crucial metrics. Your reps will perform yet another data input chore that will result in those “executive spreadsheets”. And; you’ll end-up with inaccurate measurements. This is neither DX, nor data centricity.

Define your needs

Once you have the backbone of your sales process, define your essential needs. Nowadays, CRMS deliver hundreds of bells and whistles that could only overwhelm your sales managers. Trust me – you don’t want to do that.

Instead, clearly define your reporting, forecasting and record-keeping needs. Find the sweet-spot for integrations that ease communication with your prospect and drive engagement. Focus on the R in the CRM – after all, that’s what you’re trying to manage: relationships. Have a defined list of what you need done by that CRM and how you need it done. Only then you’ll truly be able to find the right tool for your workflow.

Account for resources and project the ROI

Like it or not, money makes the world go round. Yes, averages state that a properly implemented CRMS will deliver you 8.71$ on each buck you spend. As in case of those cold calling stats, this experience might simply not happen for you, especially if you’re not breaking down or account for resources sustainably. CRMS take time, effort and in some instances hardware resources (when you’re looking for a self-hosted option).

This means, every penny counts, every role gets set at the right stage and control leavers are in place. For instance, you should never consider implementing a CRMS that consumes more than 1% of your Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR).

To put this in numbers, for a 1 200 000$ ARR, you CRM budget should be around 12 000$ in Yearly Recuring Costs. It might not seem a lot, however, judging by your ARR, you won’t have more than round 100 000$ Monthly Recurring Revenue – that means your sales team isn’t that big. You might have a lead generator role and maybe two sales/account management roles in place.

In these circumstances, you’d need about 7 CRM accounts for sales and supporting roles (Marketing, CFO, Production Roles, etc.). 1000$ a month is more than enough for implementing a decent SaaS CRM and kick those old habits. That’s roughly 140$ per months per user. That’s more than enough for some basic integrations and workflow automations.

the ROI of a CRM Meme

Once you have the system in place, the Return of Investment should emerge from reducing operational efforts alone. When everyone knows everything about a client, in base of a simple search, you’ll cut down at least 2 hours of operational costs across your executive team, and about 4 within your sales team. Sales reps get more time from reducing executive tasks and can focus on for doing actual sales.

Don’t throw away your spreadsheets

Any data you might have: post-its, spreadsheet, word documents, etc is vital for an eventual step. Any data is better than no data, so make a team effort and record down everything you know about your customer: First, Last names, phone-numbers, e-mails, company names, etc. Chances are, your sales reps have some primitive logs in excel, google sheets or even notepads. Do not under-estimate the power that lies within those!

Data Quality - a CRM perspective

Then again, do sort-out the garbage. Consider the latest versions of those files and weed-out duplicates.

You don’t want to start your tracking with Aunt Sophie’s phone number in the lead list, or adult access phone numbers with per-second billing (yep – I’m that old).


Despite those 1800-somehting words screened here, our Sales DX journey has not ended just yet. The seatbelt light just turned on. Make sure to strap-in and fasten your belts. We’ve merely pointed at the exits, lighted guides and a bit of the safety demonstration. Next week we are taking off towards choosing the best CRM out there for your business model. Until then, let me know what else would you do (aside those general DX “do”s and “don’t”s)? The comment box is yours – I will address any of your concerns, in the limits of my meandering experience.