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Focus on Usability; Avoid Overwhelming Staffers with CRM Feature Sets

September 02, 2014
By Tracey E. Schelmetic - Telemarketing Software Contributor

Shop around for customer relationship management solutions today, and you’re bound to find a staggering array of feature sets. Today’s CRM solutions have overcome many of the technological and integration hiccups that doomed the first generation of products, but the result has been a dizzying selection of features, capabilities, and bells and whistles. It makes choosing a CRM solution difficult for any sales organization which … let’s face it, probably doesn’t need any more barriers to success.

According to Ian Altman, CEO of Grow My Revenue, LLC and writing for Business2Community, there’s just one overriding feature sales organizations should consider when purchasing a CRM solution, and that’s usability.

“Each developer continues to add features and capabilities to extend their feature matrix,” he wrote. “We don’t know if anyone actually cares about or uses those features, but the feature matrix is certainly growing for all vendors. After looking at all of the systems in the marketplace, the one you should use is … the one your entire organization will actually use.”

CRM solution implementations suffer from high failure rates for the simple reason that sales teams and call center workers often skip using them because they find them irrelevant or too complex to use. This means a wasted investment, and it also means poorer quality sales efforts and customer support. There’s also the risk that the CRM solution will actually make work for the sales department.

“Often, when implementing a CRM solution, each department chimes in with what customer data the system should track,” writes Altman. “The marketing organization generally wants to track lead sources, organizational structure, competitor information, and a myriad of seemingly valuable information. Accounting and Legal have their wish lists. Then what usually ends up happening in most organizations is someone from Marketing, Accounting or Legal suggests: ‘While sales executives are speaking with the customer, they should gather that information.’ Don’t fall into that trap!”

This essentially turns sales personnel into data entry workers. While the sales team will of course need to enter information, it shouldn’t rest entirely on the sales department’s shoulders. Ensure that your entire organization uses the platform to document customer interactions, says Altman, and that sales professionals are truly checking the CRM system before they initiate contact with a customer.

Altman suggests using a solution that has robust role-based security (so a disgruntled employee can’t do damage), has tight e-mail and mobile platform integration, and offers effective follow-up and automation to make the job of sales professionals easier, and not harder. After all, isn’t that what it’s there for in the first place? 

Edited by Rory J. Thompson