Guest Commentator: Alec Elmore, Founder and President, OpenGate Consulting @Opengate_inc

How can middle market companies develop better relationships and gain insight of their customers by incorporating a thorough CRM strategy? What does a successful CRM strategy look like?

Most organizations start by saying, “We need a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system”. Between white papers, vendor marketing, and word of mouth, a CRM system promises great returns on accelerating the sales cycle, increasing the pipeline, closing more deals, etc. While these benefits can absolutely be delivered through CRM technologies, the tech is not where your CRM strategy starts, it is actually the final piece of the puzzle.

The first element of a successful CRM strategy starts with your objectives & metrics related to what you are tracking. Defined Metrics help you answer the question “So What”, what value will a CRM system have?  For example, is measuring the number of new deals coming in, important? Or is it more important to track the number of new outreaches, follow-up meetings, deals over $x, how long they will sit in a particular stage etc. CRM solutions can track any of these elements, but your strategy must outline which ones apply to your sales process and business. Without defining these for your business, any CRM will seem like a good fit.  As you consider these metrics, think about what you measure on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual basis to manage progress against your goals.

Secondly, your CRM strategy needs a set of “Habits”. These habits represent a minimum expectation of what is being captured in the system and at what cadence. Typically, activity capture is a feature that everyone wants out of their CRM system and is easily done within the technology BUT getting everyone to do it consistently is a whole other story. It is the job of sales leadership to establish these Habits and hold the team accountable to them. If tasks are missing, dates are inaccurate or values incorrect, the CRM solution will never be trusted, your strategy must institutionalize these habits.

The final element of your strategy is to align the technology with the Metrics and the Habits. There is a plethora of CRM solutions on the market and you will use the first two elements of the strategy to ensure the functionality is aligned. These tools have numerous “cool” capabilities, and your job is to determine if the functionality is needed to meet your Metrics and fit into your Habits. One caution with your technology, keep it simple and don’t over engineer, especially at the beginning of your journey.

OpenGate Consulting is a member company of the Chamber’s Middle Market Action Team (MMAT), a consortium of leaders driving rapid growth in companies with annual revenues between $10M & $1B through targeted programs and strategies.

Upcoming Event

Data Driven: Analytical Decision-Making for Middle Market Growth
Friday, March 13, 2020 | Conference Center at the Chamber

Understanding data can be the key to middle market growth. By analyzing data and determining patterns, executives can open a door to possibilities to improve decision-making and find opportunities to grow. But where to start?

Join the Chamber for a hands-on workshop to delve into your company’s data. Led by experts who have worked directly with middle market companies to study big data, this program will provide C-suite leaders with the tools they need to analyze their company’s data, discover how to reach meaningful conclusions, and how to create an action plan based on the results.