Guest Column | April 22, 2014

Your CRM And You: 4 Tests To Determine If It's Time To Break Up

By Geoff McQueen, CEO, AffinityLive

Replace Your CRM System

Remember when you first got your CRM? Everything seemed so promising — a single oracle of truth you could turn to for updates on everything going on with your client accounts. For many, though, CRMs stopped being a helpful friend and instead became a burden requiring constant updates and double entry and giving precious little back in return.

Here are four quick tests to determine if you should break up with your CRM.

1. Your CRM Doesn't Sync With Your Address Books

When you get a new lead or prospect, you want to start working on turning them into a closed opportunity right away, right? As smartphones become the center of our professional lives, you should be able to enter a contact into your smartphone’s address book and have it automatically appear in your CRM. Same goes for emails. Simply forwarding an email from a new lead to your CRM should be enough to get you going, so you can focus on building the client relationship instead of data entry.

If your CRM doesn't talk to your address books, be they Outlook, Google Contacts or your smartphone, and sync new contacts automatically between your address books and the CRM,  then you should really think about breaking up with it. Not only is it a waste of time to have to double or triple enter things, but the busier you get, the more likely you are to forget. Essentially, your CRM will stop being useful just when you need it the most.

2. You Have To Repeat Yourself

You're waiting for a train or bus.You open your smartphone and see a new email from a client, so you tap out a short reply to answer their question, and put your phone back in your pocket. Your client is happy, you're happy, but your CRM is clueless. Unless you remember to go into your CRM and copy and paste the contents of the email, it has no idea about this client communication, and even worse, none of your colleagues do either!

If your CRM doesn't automatically connect to your email, especially emails you send from your smartphone, you should really think about breaking up with it. Your time is much too valuable to be spent copying and pasting from your inbox or outbox, and even if you've accepted the penalty of using a sub-standard email interface baked into your CRM, you're checking and replying to email so much on our smartphones that you need a CRM that talks to email no matter what device you send it from.

3. Your CRM Doesn't Care About Your Day

Our calendars are home to our highest-value client interactions: our scheduled calls, meetings, and follow ups. You should be able to schedule an appointment with a client from Outlook, your Google Calendar or your smartphone calendar, send the client an invite, and know that your CRM has made a note and record about this client event.

If your CRM doesn't automatically sync with your calendar and import all of your client-related meetings, then you should really think about breaking up with it. If your CRM doesn't know about these most important client interactions without you needing to double-enter them yourself (and keep track of changes and cancellations!), you're going to stop trusting it to be accurate.

4. Your CRM Only Cares About Sales

If you really care about client relationships, you know that a relationship often starts before you're trying to sell a client, and goes well beyond a signed contract. You need to keep an eye on delivery to make sure you're meeting a client's expectations, and keep in touch to make sure you're in the driver's seat when it is time for them to buy again. To do this well, your CRM needs to have scope beyond the sale, and give you insights into how your production, project, support, and service teams are interacting with your client.

If your CRM doesn't go beyond the sale, also covering the client relationship into fulfillment and ongoing management, you should really think about breaking up with it. It costs six to seven times more to win a new customer than retain an existing one, so if your CRM is only fixated on managing a sales opportunity and is blind to the post-sale relationship, you're either in serious trouble or you're relying on good luck, and luck that never lasts forever.

It is natural that the most important aspects of your client relationships happen outside your CRM, but that doesn’t mean they should remain isolated. With a robust CRM system that integrates all of your important client contacts, communications, events, timelines and statuses, you can elevate increase productivity, improve client relationships and achieve meaningful business results.

Geoff McQueen is the founder and CEO of AffinityLive, a company that creates cloud-based CRM, Project Management, Service & Billing software for the professional service sector. Prior to founding AffinityLive, McQueen created and built a successful digital agency Down Under. Now based in San Francisco, he is a sought after writer & speaker on the topics of entrepreneurship and growing a successful service business.