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Ten Common CRM Mistakes - And How to Avoid Them: Page 2

By Jennifer Schiff     Feedback
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Using CRM as a micromanagement tool

"CRM systems are about improving the speed and effectiveness of managing customer relationships — which means a CRM system should be for the Sales and Support reps first, management second," said Taber. "Of course you need visibility and discipline, but if the reps believe that the CRM is just a surveillance and measurement tool for upper management, they won't really use it."

Moreover, "the data will be incomplete or — worse — faked. So you won't get either the effectiveness or the visibility you wanted out of the system." Taber's solution: Optimize your CRM system to save your sales reps time and hassle, so they can close deals faster.

Creating a CRM silo

"Many businesses deploy their CRM without thinking about connecting it with the larger business," said Paul Turner, senior director of product marketing at NetSuite. That can mean having to manually reenter data, slowing business processes. To avoid this CRM mistake, Turner advised managers to "tightly integrate sales and service applications with accounting, so you can accelerate, streamline and reduce errors from the quote, to order, to fulfillment and invoicing, through to customer service process." An added benefit: "integrating your sales and finance systems also provides the most accurate way of building accurate forecasts, and monitoring unbilled and billed orders versus quota," he said.

Decentralizing customer data

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"It's easy to end up with customer data spread out and duplicated across lines of business applications, such as opportunities and upsell information in the SFA [sales force automation], invoicing information in accounting and customer issues in the service system," said Turner. However, by doing so, "it makes it almost impossible to get a holistic view of your customers." Worse, some systems or departments may have outdated or inaccurate customer information. The solution: Centralize your customer information in a company-wide CRM system. When "customer data is centralized, everyone gets consistent, real-time visibility into one version of the customer, improving productivity and overall customer satisfaction," he said.

Thinking locally instead of globally

"It's easy for global businesses to end up with multiple CRM systems," said Turner. "But this can cause real problems when it comes to sales forecasting and quote planning — and can really hinder corporate visibility into sales performance." If your business is multinational, it's important to choose a CRM system "that can support multiple currencies, multiple subsidiaries, be easy to tailor to specific regional sales processes and enable a consolidated view of global sales performance (actuals, forecast and performance against quota)," he said.

Getting overwhelmed by social media

"Relationships are growing all over the Internet, thanks to social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs and Twitter," said BatchBlue's O'Hara. And while more relationships are good news for your business, keeping up with all your new friends, followers and contacts can be overwhelming. So, she advised, "be sure to capture these non-traditional communication channels in your CRM system so you can get the bigger picture on your relationships and help them grow." (For more on social CRM, see Ten Ways Social Media is Changing Sales and CRM and Top 10 Tips for Using Social Media to Improve CRM.)

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff is a regular contributor to eCRM Guide and runs a marketing communications firm focused on helping small and mid-sized businesses.

This article was originally published on April 12, 2011
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