3 Tips to Maximize Your CRM Investment

In today’s day and age, at the heart of every successful sales team lies a consolidated database which acts as the epicenter for all outbound interaction and relationship management. At its core, customer relationship management (CRM) is all of the activities, strategies, and technologies that companies use to manage their interactions with their current and potential customers, so that no customer (or prospect) feels ignored; thus generating more leads, opportunities, deals, and ultimately revenue.

Sales execution for companies of any size, including small business and even freelancers, can benefit immensely from the learning, organization, and optimization a CRM provides. According to Salesforce, a well implemented CRM system can increase sales (by up to 29%), improve productivity (by up to 34%), and boost forecast accuracy (by 40%), resulting in a 41% increase in revenue per sales person!

Simply put, if it doesn’t already play a pivotal role in how your sales process and measurement is executed, you’re missing out on a ton of potential value. While there are a number of other areas an effective CRM implementation can and should impact your business, for this article we’ll be focusing on 3 tips every sales manager or business owner should be utilizing to maximize the return on their CRM investment.

Automation Workflows

Email automation workflows are sequences of emails that are sent to help nurture leads into customers. Particularly for inbound, they play a crucial role in maximizing conversion rates. Often termed “The Five Minute Rule”, if an inbound lead receives a follow-up of some kind within 5 minutes, conversion rates go up by 800%. The decay of expected return is exponential with each passing moment, and an automated email allows for follow up in a timely fashion without requiring a sales rep to spend time to monitor and track webform submissions.

While email automation workflows can also play a role for outbound outreach, there’s a fine line between nurturing a warm prospect and inundating a list of cold contacts with spammy content. A great use case here is to send an automated email that’s personalized with custom fields whenever an opportunity is created or reaches a certain stage in the pipeline. For outbound prospecting though, it’s imperative that you only leverage automation with discretion and with an eye towards delivering value (while also including an opt-out link, of course)!

A different use case here is process automation. If daily repetitive tasks are taking up a sizable chunk of your sales team’s time, workflows can be created to take them off their hands. For example, automatically create an opportunity each time a contact is added, or instantly transfer ownership once it reaches a certain pipeline stage with tasks assigned to appropriate team members to ensure next steps are taken. The applications here are numerous and can go a long way to encourage adoption of your CRM by removing time-consuming data-entry and pipeline management tasks.

Create a Focus of Attention

A potential downside to a CRM system packed full of data is an unintended focus on the wrong information or activities. While it might not be perfect, you should have a pretty good sense of where your team should be focusing their time when it comes to types of prospects and activities. In a perfect world, each team member logs in each morning with their ideal prospect targets or follow up activities already highlighted for them, so they don’t have to waste time identifying the highest impact activities.

One way to achieve this is to create a dashboard for each team member that is specific to their function, needs, and goals. This should be the very first thing they see whenever they log into their account. While the dashboard could contain any number of things that aid them in being good at their job, lead scoring, oversight reporting, and weighted forecasting should generally be at the top of the list.

Lead scoring utilizes a combination of demographic and behavioral data signals to assign a lead a specific point value, with a higher value indicating greater prioritization. Examples of effective lead scoring values include title seniority, job function, or actions such as subscribing to a blog, clicking a link, or attending a webinar, with higher values assigned to characteristics or behaviors that indicate more sales-readiness and larger customer size. Assuming these data points are already available in your CRM, creating a lead scoring mechanism and a ranked list allows reps to immediately identify and spend time with the highest priority prospects or leads when they’re most leaned-in.

Oversight reporting is a fantastic way to highlight actions that are past due to keep pipeline data clean and opportunities moving. Take for example an opportunity that didn’t receive a follow up after a demo, tasks that never received an associated action, opportunities with no next steps set or close dates that are in the past. Each of these behaviors (or lack thereof) are an indication of pipeline mismanagement, and the sooner they can be caught and addressed, the better; your close rate and quota attainment will thank you later.

Finally, weighted forecasting assigns each sales stage a certain probability to close. For example, stage 3 in a 6 stage sales process might be given a 50% probability to close. Stage 4 a 75% chance, and so on. The value of each opportunity is then multiplied by the % probability to close to get a weighted forecast value. An example could be a $100k opportunity in Stage 3, equating to a $50k weighted value (see figure below):

By assigning a weighted forecast to each opportunity, reps and managers alike can hone in on the opportunities that carry the most priority and ensure they’re being given the appropriate attention while also maintaining an accurate prediction for monthly, quarterly, and annual quota attainment.

Encourage Adoption

The number one barrier by far to a successful CRM investment is adoption. According to top CRM consultancy Redspire, nearly 50% of CRM projects fail due to user adoption alone, so while most of this article has been focused on the implementation itself, it cannot be emphasized enough that whatever you build, it needs to service the user and the user needs to understand the value unlocked by the tools being made available via the CRM.

One way to do this is to systematize the sales process within the CRM itself, documenting all necessary steps to take to progress the opportunity to the next stage, including automated workflows where appropriate. This takes the guesswork out of the day-to-day activities that will make a user most successful and allows new users to onboard quickly with real-time guard rails to guide them through the optimal sales process.

A second approach is to always prioritize simplicity over complexity. While it can be enticing to incorporate every feature or process available, a straightforward and easy to use implementation trumps complexity that can be difficult to understand, discouraging users from using it.

According to Nucleus Research, the average ROI on CRM investments is $8.71 for each dollar spent, including Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). TCO is an important concept for any business to keep in mind when calculating their ROI, as it takes into account time of implementation, ongoing training, maintenance, and other often overlooked costs. This means that some companies get a far better ROI on their CRM implementation, while others trail behind. The key difference in variance comes down to how well the system creates time-savings, facilitates focus of attention, and encourages overall adoption, and the applications listed above are a fantastic starting point to accomplish each.

If you’re seeking a partner to revamp your existing CRM implementation or help construct a new one from scratch, Stackmatix could be your solution. From pre-seed to Series C, we aim to build integrated technology stacks that create consolidated data sets and analytics across all sales and marketing activities to maximize revenue and marketing return. Kick off an email thread at for a free growth consultation to explore how we can help you zero in on your measurement and scale your business.