5 tips to get your users to love their CRM

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system’s primary role is to provide a business with the means to manage customer relationships, improving your ability to upsell, win new business, and provide better service to your existing customers. CRM can be a sore subject for some – older users tend to see CRM systems as additional work, while younger generations who have been raised amongst computers and technology see it as what it can be – a way to be more productive and to do more with less.

Your CRM’s quality is directly related to its users experience of it

All CRM systems currently on the market do the basic CRM functions quite well. With that in mind, the key to a successful CRM deployment is not so much the system itself – but how useful the CRM is for its users, particularly in streamlining processes and providing users with a positive CRM experience.

In short, the happier a company keeps its salespeople, and in turn, its customers, the more likely it is to win and retain those customers

At Axenon, we focus solely on the deployment and implementation of the Salesforce platform across the Nordic countries. Our philosophy is ‘people and culture first, technology second’. The five tips below are a product of that philosophy – and we believe them to be vital for a successful Salesforce implementation.

Here are our five favourite tips to make your users love, believe – and to use – salesforce.

  1. Involve your sales team early – The earlier your sales team gets involved with your CRM implementation, the better your CRM system will be. Take the opportunity to learn their requirements and needs, and not only will your CRM be better, but you’ll win valuable buy-in and better adoption rates. A CRM implementation is not a technical or IT project, but a people and process improvement – where the CRM will be designed according to its end user’s needs and desires. Include your sales team in the implementation process and make sure their voices are heard. Develop your CRM’s functionality rapidly and iteratively, and gather feedback from your users at every stage.
  2. Implement with purpose, and one piece at a time – Change can be hard, so rather than spend a lot of time finalizing a product only to drop it, unexplained and unsupported, in your users laps, break the implementation down into small and manageable chunks. Start small, with features the end user cares about first, and iteratively improve it – delivering new features in easily digestible pieces until the end result is achieved.
  3. Make the user experience easy and logical – CRM instances in many businesses tend to include (at the leadership team’s behest) uncountable required fields that make the sales team’s job (hint : making sales) more difficult and more frustrating. Fortunately, salesforce is easy to customize depending on the types of end user, so that fields that are truly required at certain sales stages can be requested only when they are actually needed, making the data input process easier and more natural, and showing your users the fields that they need only when completion of those fields is useful to them.
  4. Your own data – A good CRM contains a vast quantity of high quality data, which is of no use if you can’t find what you’re looking for. With salesforce, you easily filter the data to make lists, reports, and processes useful for all types of your users. Customizing these features is easy, and can be configured separately for each user, so that your users see only the data they care about – keeping them more engaged and interested in your CRM’s success.
  5. Involve the sales leadership team – If all your leadership team does is read reports without having any desire to understand how those reports are made, and how they use the underlying data, how can you expect your other users to do any better? Modern sales leadership teams actively utilize CRMs and take ownership of their data, processes, and people – leading by example every step of the way.

A challenge for your leadership team : Your own interest in your CRM will make or break your CRM implementation. Take the effort to learn your CRM in detail, rather than just reading the reports.

Axenon will be present at Salesforce Base Camp Helsinki 2019, where we’ll cover the topics of this blog post in a 20 minute hands-on presentation.

Is CRM implementation or adoption a problem in your organisation? Interested in hearing how Axenon can help you sell better, smarter, and easier? Drop your contact details into the form below and I’ll be in touch!

Our sales process … or the client’s buying process?

Why prioritize your own internal processes over the needs of your customer?

Thanks to Aki Sopanen, from Rema Partners, for this suggestion on prioritizing your customer’s purchasing process over your own sales process!

People talk about the selling process often. Sales opportunities are measured by the customer’s stage in your sales funnel. These stages are weighted and scored according to customers who work as your sales process predicts (or more accurately, hopes). While speaking with Aki, the traditional ‘sales process’ started to sound a little … insane.

Your customer is buying, so to best make sense on how to sell to them, you’d naturally be better off trying to understand and work with your customer’s purchasing process. Perhaps this happens already, but discussions tend to remain focused on the sales process.

As an example :

A customer sends a request for proposal, but you’ve never heard from them before.

  • In which stage of your sales process is this customer?
  • In which stage of their buying process is this customer?

In your sales process, you might set this customer’s stage as “Qualification”, with a close probability of 10%. But what if the customer’s buying process is much further along, for example in the “Supplier Identification” phase – which in their purchasing process is preceded by identifying the company’s needs, setting a budget, and committing decision makers to the project.

What if, instead of prioritising our own needs we concentrated on helping the customer succeed with that purchasing process. Perhaps we might not win every prospective deal, but in return we get :

  • A better ability to help our customers solve their problems
  • More satisfied customers, and less arguments about pricing
  • Bigger win rates and bigger deals with customers that we are a true fit for

What do you think? Should we change our mindset from our sales process to our customer’s purchasing process? And should our sales team or our sales leadership lead that change?

Picture: Rema Partners Opportunity-Process

Is your sales process – or your customer’s buying process – a bottleneck in your organization? Interested in hearing how Axenon can help you sell better, smarter, and easier? Drop your contact details into the form below and I’ll be in touch!

What I learned from my role as a startup business coach

Only by letting something go can you have the chance to start something new. When I left an established startup a couple of years ago, I was given the opportunity to start sharing my experience with other entrepreneurs and businesses. Sometimes my role was to act as a caretaker CEO, other times as a board chairman, and sometimes as a salesperson. My friend Petri Kajanderi gave me the working title “Chairman as a Service”.

Only by letting something go can you have the chance to start something new.

Without guaranteed regular income and with changing commission models – and while being responsible for other entrepreneur’s financials and assets – one must take care to constantly assess one’s own values. Thus I went in search of a model where at the end of every meeting or engagement my clients could say with certainty “You have been useful for us today.” If I was not consistently providing value, what reason would they have to ask me to come back the next day?

At the end of every meeting or engagement my clients could say with certainty “You have been useful for us today.”

In certain projects it was clear to see that I was not the best person to provide the services that were required – and in these cases, it wasn’t wise to begin these projects with disappointment as the inevitable outcome. This principle helped me focus only on the projects where we were able to identify the true elements of success at an early stage. These elements may differ from what the client was requesting. In some cases, merely being able to complete the desired work is not enough if that work will not accomplish the client’s business goals.

This principle helped me focus only on the projects where we were able to identify the true elements of success at an early stage.

In my current role at Axenon, we’re helping Salesforce customers achieve maximal return on their investment, and helping Salesforce users achieve outstanding results through making Salesforce work for them – not the other way around. The philosophies that I developed in my business coaching days still apply – and there is no greater reward than good feedback from the customer and creating a trusting environment for future business. Sometimes this may require some modification of hours and of billing, but this true success is only achieved through open, long lasting relationships built on trust – which are surely what our clients are looking for.

There is no greater reward than good feedback from the customer

While today, our clients are generally much larger than those from by coaching days, that initial philosophy remains. I also believe that Finland’s emerging startup culture will emphasize and reward those of us who measure our value by what we provide for our customers, not by the amount of hours we bill.

Interested in hearing how Axenon can help you sell better, smarter, and easier? Drop your contact details into the form below and I’ll be in touch!