8 Benefits of CRM + 6 Challenges to Overcome First

Here are key CRM benefits and how to reap them

what the benefits of CRM look like
An illustration of a successful CRM implementation. 😉

Why use a CRM system? What are the big benefits you can get from CRM software?

We’re obviously kidding with the image above, but we hope we got your attention, because the truth is not far off. 💰

A working CRM can be a total game changer for any business.

Unfortunately, over 90% of companies don’t reap any big benefits, because they don’t really use their CRM properly.

And the simple truth is:

⚠️ A CRM you don’t use is useless. ⚠️

Luckily, there’s also good news: the challenges are not that hard to overcome.

So let’s explore the following points together:

  1. What is a CRM exactly?
  2. What are the key benefits of a CRM?
  3. What are the main challenges to getting these benefits?

What is a CRM: What’s the definition?

Just to make sure we’re on the same page here, let’s define what a CRM system is.

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is software that helps you manage your customer relationships in a better way. It helps you follow up with customers and leads, keep track of the necessary information, automate tasks, collaborate as a team, and provide insights.

This definition contains some benefits already, but we’ll dig in much deeper.

Possible benefits of a CRM system: Why use one for your small business?

The short answer to “why use a CRM?” is:

A working CRM allows you to properly control and scale your customer base, sales operations, and business as a whole. 📈

Now, how does that concretely happen?

Here are 8 key benefits of CRM:

  1. Build better customer relationships by following up flawlessly at scale
  2. Take over when someone is sick or leaves the company
  3. Collaborate better as a team and between departments
  4. Make a proper cash planning by forecasting your revenues
  5. Improve your sales process by measuring it and analyzing how it works
  6. Nurture the leads that are not ready for buying right now
  7. Increase your sales revenue
  8. Scale your sales team and customer base

We’ll give them some color and share useful tips here and there.🎨

1. Build better customer relationships by following up flawlessly at scale

It’s easy to follow up on one lead well. Five is still doable. Ten gets significantly harder. Now imagine following up with tens of leads well. 🤹

That’s what most salespeople do, and it’s very hard to do that without any system to organize themselves. 🫠

These salespeople often build their own systems: some start using a spreadsheet, some use Outlook tasks, some just jot down a list in a notebook, … many use a combination of different systems.

And while these simple systems are a good start, they come with drawbacks:

  • They are highly manual and rely on the salesperson.
  • They don’t capture timelines in a nice and easy manner.
  • They’re not well integrated with the email inbox, calendar, LinkedIn, …
  • They don’t allow for a lot of handy automation.
  • They don’t come with things like built-in dashboards, permission systems, email sequences, data enrichment, etc.

That’s why actual CRM systems exist. 👈

They make your lead follow-up organized, automated, and integrated. That way you can make every single lead feel like they are the only one you’re taking care of, despite following up with many at once.🥰

2. Take over when someone is sick or leaves the company

Someone’s sick. 🤒 Or worse: they leave the company. 👋 What now?

What do they have going on? With whom? Who needs what?

If you have a good CRM in place and you’re using it correctly, these questions should be answered in no time.

You’ll see who they’re in touch with and what they exactly discussed. You can reply to their last email to pick up the conversation or call the contact’s phone number. 📞

3. Collaborate better as a team and between departments

The above is a great example of how collaboration can work through a CRM when someone else is unable to serve a customer.

Oftentimes, though, multiple people in the same team are in touch with a customer. If all communication and other information are already in the CRM, then no constant handover of knowledge between team members is needed. It just works.

In other cases, multiple departmental silos may be in touch with the same customer or lead. And this can get confusing at times as well.

Imagine a marketing department that wants to send out an email about their company’s latest promotional offer. If they don’t know who is already about to sign an offer, they may accidentally send out that promotion to them as well. Oops! 😖

Sharing information in one place is a very efficient way of collaborating. And the best place for sharing customer information is a CRM.

4. Make proper cash planning by forecasting your revenues

Every business needs a certain amount of cash in the bank account. Not too little, not too much.

Sometimes you need a loan. Sometimes you can repay a loan or make an investment.

However, if you don’t know how much money will probably come in, it can be quite hard to plan this properly.

If you want to do your CFO or business owner a huge favor, then try to forecast your sales revenue more or less accurately for them. They’ll love you for it. 🫶

The easiest way to do that is by keeping your sales pipeline up to date with the right opportunities and their:

  • Expected close dates (or close dates when closed)
  • Values
  • Stages
  • Optionally: probabilities (it’s easiest to rely on stage probabilities instead of a probability per individual opportunity)
sales forecast
Visualize what you’ve won, how much you expect to win, and how to compares to your target. 🎯

Want to set your stage probabilities correctly? Then you can have a look at your “funnel analysis” report.

funnel analysis
Let Salesflare calculate what the win probability is for each stage based on hard, historical data. 🔮

Of course, you’ll need some clean data to report on first, so if you’re just getting started, start using that sales pipeline!

5. Improve your sales process by measuring it and analyzing how it works

Accurate probabilities and forecasts are just two things you can derive from your data if you keep it clean, organized, and up to date using a CRM.

One Salesflare customer more than doubled their sales in one year simply by analyzing their sales data to identify bottlenecks in the sales process.

When you finally have your sales data in front of you, you can slice and dice it to find out how you’re doing, why that is, and how you can improve it. 🤓

We made an overview of common examples of sales dashboards and reports so you can get inspired.

Here are a few concrete ideas:

  • Check the funnel analysis in Salesflare to identify stage-to-stage conversion bottlenecks. Solving those is often low-hanging fruit.
  • Track your amount of leads, lead value, and sales cycle length per lead source. This will help you know how you can get more quality leads.
  • Go through your top lost reasons. Based on this you can, for instance, work on objection handling, your marketing material, your actual offering, or even your business model.
  • Keep a constant eye on your amount of new leads and won leads. Make sure you keep those balanced for a continuous flow of revenue.
  • Investigate what your top performers are doing that the others aren’t. Teach them.

6. Nurture the leads that are not ready for buying right now

Found a good lead, but the timing’s just not right? You’d be a fool not to stay in touch. The question is: how do you make sure you do?

Nurturing existing leads can be very impactful if you do it right and you do it consistently.

Don’t know how to do it? Here are some ideas:

  • Invite your existing leads to online webinars, offline events, or even exclusive dinners. It all depends on the potential deal size.
  • Share the occasional guide or case study with them. Inspire them on how they can solve their existing problems. Ideally, you’re involved in the solution.
  • Send them updates about new offerings they may be interested in.
  • Next to emailing them, add all leads on LinkedIn as well. Post regularly.

You can of course also follow up on when the right timing is for them. But all the above can help them reach it sooner, or partner up with you instead of someone else.

7. Increase your sales revenue

Why make this a separate point? Just for emphasis. 😄

A business needs money coming in so it can grow, invest and do more good stuff for other businesses or people. And return money to its shareholders.

That is how our economy works to create a better life for everyone and it’s important to not lose track of that.

All of the above will help achieve this goal.

8. Scale your sales team and customer base

Increasing your revenue is the first step to scaling further. But you can’t do it without scaling your systems and processes.

At some point, the homegrown spreadsheet will break. It will be important to have a decent CRM in place so you can keep managing your scaling operations.

Many founders ask me: “When should I get my first CRM?” 🤔

My answer: “As soon as possible. You’ll lose a lot of information and opportunity by not using a professional system. And most CRMs have some sort of starter offering in place.”

If you’re interested in using Salesflare as your CRM (it’s great for startups and small businesses!), ask the team on the chat for our “early-stage startup program”. They’ll figure out with you whether you’re eligible. If you just started off, you most probably are.

Why you may not reap those CRM benefits: What are the main challenges?

Let me break it to you.

You may end up with little or useless data because your team doesn’t really use the CRM. And you won’t reap any benefits.

Now, the good news is: it’s not hard to overcome the challenges. The solutions are simple.

All you need to do is act.

A free motivation boost offered by Shia Labeouf. 😬

Here are the main challenges:

  1. Your team may find the selected CRM too work intensive & complicated
  2. You didn’t involve your team in the CRM testing and selection
  3. You overloaded the CRM with fields (or worse: required fields)
  4. You didn’t train your team on how the CRM works
  5. You didn’t define with your team how you want to use the CRM together
  6. Your senior management does not provide enough endorsement and support

And we’ve included a solution with every single one of them.

1. Your team may find the selected CRM too work-intensive & complicated

The most common reason why a CRM implementation fails: the team just finds it too much.

Truth be told, most CRM systems:

  • Are built with the expectation that someone with an inane amount of discipline will fill them out manually.
  • Are mainly made for management (who buys the CRM), not for the sales team.
  • Got complicated because they keep adding features without proper product management.

Even though there are 700-800 CRMs out there, you’ll find that this applies to most of them.

That’s why my co-founder and I started Salesflare in 2014. We went on a mission to build a sales CRM your team actually loves to use, by putting existing data at the core and creating a super easy app that is integrated everywhere.

Little abstract? Just give it a try to see:

suggested accounts in Salesflare
Salesflare automatically suggests companies you’re probably forgetting to add to the CRM.

You can try Salesflare for free for up to 30 days with 100% of its functionality.

awards Salesflare's CRM received
Some of the awards Salesflare has received for its ease of use, ease of setup, support, and return on investment.
try Salesflare's CRM for free

SOLUTION: Get a CRM, like Salesflare, that is as simple and automated as possible when it comes to data input.

2. You didn’t involve your team in the CRM testing and selection

Chances are your current system was well researched and tested… but the sales team was never or only loosely involved in the process.

This comes with two inherent dangers:

  1. It’s hard to know whether the team sees themselves using the CRM (which is key).
  2. They won’t buy into using it as much as when you involve them.

Yes, you’ll have to invest some more time and effort to involve them. But the return on investment will be enormous.

SOLUTION: Involve the team when testing and selecting CRMs.

PRO TIP: If you’re rolling out a CRM to a large team where some people may become the “weak links” (because of low digital skills or just a fixed mindset), then definitely involve them as “test champions” in the process. This makes sure that they don’t hold everything back when you present it to the team. And when the rest of the team sees they’re onboard, they’ll much more likely be onboard.

3. You overloaded the CRM with fields (or worse: required fields)

“Can you also keep track of X?”

Adding fields in a CRM is effortless and done once. Filling them out however takes constant effort.

It’s a common reflex in every team to just keep adding fields because “it would be useful to keep track of that as well”.

Well, how useful is it? Is it:

  • Must have,
  • Should have,
  • Or just could have?

It seems harmless to keep adding fields, but it isn’t. Every extra field poses an extra risk that the team gives up on using the CRM altogether. A little sloppiness can easily go down a long slippery slope.

And what is more important to you? All the benefits above… or this extra field?

SOLUTION: Question every field anyone is looking to add. Is it essential? And, if anything, refrain from making fields required as much as possible.

4. You didn’t train your team on how the CRM works

This is often touted to be the main reason why CRM implementations fail. It isn’t (unless you don’t know about the other ones), but it is still an important one.

Many teams just jump in without making use of all the available materials.

At Salesflare, we for instance have a “Getting started” YouTube playlist available of 14 videos that take a bit over an hour to watch (at 1x speed).

Watching these videos will make sure that in no time you understand the basics of how the CRM works and how you can use it.

Is it worth it spending that hour? I think so. This is another one of those high-ROI investments. Just consider the benefits of using your CRM to the fullest.

SOLUTION: Watch CRM tutorials with your team. Then organize a basic training focused around how to track information, follow up with leads, and how you want to use it as a team. (which brings us to the next challenge 👇)

5. You didn’t define with your team how you want to use the CRM together

One of the benefits of using a CRM is better collaboration. Another one is better sales forecasts. Yet another one is extracting insights to improve your processes.

None of that is possible if your team doesn’t use the CRM in a consistent way.

If a field, a field option, an opportunity stage, … means something else to different people in your team, this information cannot be used on a team level.

This doesn’t have to be difficult. It just requires a little discussion as a team.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • What does our sales pipeline look like? How do we define the stages? What should we do at each stage?
  • Which fields in the CRM are essential to us? How will we fill them out? Do we need any additional fields? (Only important ones!)
  • How will we hand over leads as a team?
  • How will we follow up? Will we use the tasks or a specific saved filter?
  • How will we make sure the data stays up to date and the pipeline clean? Will we do a weekly sales pipeline review that needs prior preparation?

It’s best to stick to simple rules you know you can all follow.

SOLUTION: Set up a team meeting. Fire up a Google Doc or Word document. Document your team’s decisions.

6. Your senior management does not provide enough endorsement and support

Simple, but essential.

Your senior management team may not be fully behind using a CRM. They probably have their reasons. It usually boils down to this: they’ve tried it before, it failed, they think it will fail again, and they consider it a waste of time.

I hope I made clear to you that the benefits of a CRM can be huge if you overcome common challenges. And that the challenges are relatively easy to overcome.

Now, make it clear to everyone else in your team; and especially to senior management. If leadership is not behind it, it’ll make everything else way more difficult.

SOLUTION: Tell senior management about the benefits of CRM and share your strategy to overcome the common challenges.

So the choice stands before you, young Padawan. 🧙

Will you cling to the old ways of spreadsheets and neglected CRM systems? Or will you embrace the wisdom of the Force (or better: Flare), implement the right CRM with precision, and truly expand your enterprise to new horizons?

let Yoda convince you of the benefits of CRM
No, try not. Do or do not, there is no try.

Sorry, I got carried away. 😏

Good luck! 👊 And don’t hesitate to reach out if we can help you. We’re always available via the chat on our main website.

Ready to power up your sales? Give Salesflare a try.

We’re an easy-to-use sales CRM for small & medium-sized B2B companies that’s chock-full of automation and always up to date!

try Salesflare

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Jeroen Corthout