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Plan Before You Shop: A CRM System for Your B2B, Part 1

By Rachel Plasse

Plan Before You Shop: CRM SystemsIf you’re part of a growing B2B company, you will regularly need to stop racing, pull into a pit stop and evaluate the resources you need to keep up the pace. It’s critical to consider how a CRM system and/or email or marketing automation system can help you be successful in converting leads that enter your sales funnel.

Is My Business Ready?

If you are gaining leads and making sales, YES, you’re ready, for at least these three reasons:

  1. To Keep Leads Warm. Too often, a decision to use a CRM system (usually in lieu of spreadsheets) is made a bit late, and hundreds of valuable, hard-earned leads can be quickly lost because they went cold. A minimal investment could have avoided this tragedy.
  2. To Track Performance. Whether you have one sales person or are growing a team, you’ll want to be able to track performance at each state of the sales funnel for business planning.
  3. To Track Customer Relationships. As a leader in a growing B2B, you’re wearing many hats. According to British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, your brain has a limit to the number of social relationships it can maintain, and he proposes that to be 150. Getting some of those contacts, how they relate to each other, and what your correspondence has been out of your brain and into a system will relieve you for other important responsibilities.

When deciding if it’s time to invest, whether that be starting from scratch or determining if you’ve outgrown your current set-up, consider what’s truly important to your business growth and ease of function.

What Capabilities Does the Team Need?

The critical first step is to develop and gain alignment between senior management, sales, marketing and operations on the capabilities sought or problems you need the system to solve. A project manager or task force ought to be appointed to seek the input on their wishes, for example:

  • I wish I had a better way to understand my leads, so I can better qualify them and communicate with them in the most meaningful way.
  • I wish I could have a weekly call list, ideally with a map of my area, so I can prioritize my time this week.
  • I wish I could have a monthly dashboard showing me the total value of opportunities by likelihood to close in the next month.
  • I wish I could have my proposal forms automatically populate from system inputs, rather than me having to manually fill each one out.
  • I wish I was on the same page as Customer Service, literally, so I’m in sync with order status and any issues.

You get the idea. System capabilities range – some are inherent to the system, others can be added on with plug-ins or apps. So until you determine the capabilities you seek, an assessment of which vendor(s) to use is premature. In a follow-up post, I’ll share more specific ideas to help you set a wish list for Sales and Marketing.

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About Rachel Plasse

Rachel is a marketing strategist and executional team leader with 20 years of experience across industries, C to B and B to B. Her skills elevate brand engagement and maximize ROI with targeted cross-channel marketing solutions flagged by smart analytics and compelling messaging. Prior to consulting, Rachel worked for Harte-Hanks, GlaxoSmithKline, and Verizon.

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