Sales CRM software is a powerful system and platform for businesses interested in optimizing their sales funnel and overall performance, but sometimes it can get in the way of what you’re trying to accomplish. Sales CRM software takes all the data your sales team acquires and turns it into reports, automates time-consuming tasks such as follow-ups, and organizes contact data for agents to keep track of their leads.
Completing a sale requires a certain number of steps to take place from the moment a lead shows sign of interest to the moment they finalize a purchase. In order to document those steps, agents use sales CRM software for its tracking and organizing the sales funnel. The sales funnel is a breakdown of how many leads are pulled in, what stage they are in the buy cycle, how they interact with agents until they’re deemed a “sales win.”
However, there are times where too much data can be a bad thing, or being too reliant on the software can lead to bigger issues that can’t be fixed unless significant changes to the sales process are made. Here are nine ways to determine if your sales CRM is hurting your sales performance and funnel, and how to prevent these issues.
1. Your Agents Hate It
There are many ways to figure out if your agents can’t stand the sales CRM software you’re using. The easiest way is by listening to them. Many people aren’t subtle when it comes to voicing their displeasure over new kinds of software and systems. CRM software is notorious for being difficult to use, but the reason for this is that the learning curve is more complex. The key is learning how to encourage CRM adoption amongst your agents.
Another incredibly easy way to find out if your agents don’t like the software is to ask them, either in person or through a survey. But how do you know if it’s the right time to ask? One way of figuring out is by doing what we just mentioned: listen. If people are open about their displeasure, they’re going to be more than willing to explain why if you’re genuinely concerned. Instead of taking offense to them being honest, use the moment as an opportunity to show them and to explain to them why it’s so important.
This requires significant training, and it’s best to start this early on — especially when you’re switching to a new system. Most agents are self-starters, meaning they want to just jump right into the work laid out in front of them; however, CRM software is complex and requires some experience to get the hang of. Some sales CRM software providers, such as Infusionsoft, make it a requirement for teams to purchase an onboarding session before they finalize the entire deal. This ensures businesses know exactly what they’re using and how to use it to their fullest potential. At the end of the day, choosing the right CRM software depends entirely on what best fits in with your current sales processes.
Some signs of improper training and frustration to look for can be:
- Duplicate content
- Agents going back to the old system
- Tons of wrong data
- Lack of consistent reports and analytics
If you’re seeing lots of mistakes over too long a period of time, you have to ask whether they like the system or not. If they don’t like the system, you need to either go more into depth on how to use it effectively, or choose a different software provider that better fits your needs, or even simply hire a new team.
2. Company Culture Has Changed
CRM software is supposed to be a huge boost to your overall operation, but if you’re noticing an adverse effect on your company culture, that should be taken as a sign that something needs to change. Some of these signs are agents being too reliant on the software, meaning they’re not paying enough attention to their leads and customers, and when an agent’s day consists almost entirely of data entry, which CRM software is supposed to help eliminate in the first place.
The priority for any sales team is to optimize the user experience and buyer’s journey. Agents do this by personalizing it. They get the context necessary for this from sales CRM software. Without it, sales processes and the buyer’s journey would increase significantly in order to establish deep relationships with each and every individual. Without sales CRM software, businesses would have to hire massive teams that would prove to be too costly and impossible to maintain.
If agents are too reliant on the sales CRM to the point where they’re not actually listening to what the lead wants, referring to demographics and other metrics over everything else, they’re going to distance the lead. Numbers are great when used as a guide, but relying solely on them changes the entire experience.
If your sales team was once a lively, personable team capable of pulling in tons of leads before switching to a sales CRM and now your numbers are slipping, it’s time to regroup and remind your agents that sales CRM is used to enhance the sales process, not take it over.
If that same lively team was also used to being out of the office, going door-to-door, speaking to leads on the phone, and now that energy is gone, that situation needs to be addressed immediately. Sales CRM software often comes with powerful automations built specifically to handle mundane tasks such as data entry, lead scoring, report building, follow-ups, and more. However, if agents are focused too much on ensuring the data they have is being inputted correctly, they’re not spending their time creating a personalized experience that sets them apart from the competition.
If these time-consuming tasks aren’t decreasing, agents aren’t as lively, and it’s becoming clear that personalized experiences are becoming less frequent, managers need to look at how they can use the sales CRM software as a guide rather than gospel.
3. Too Many Features are Left Unused
Whatever the size of your business is, you need to make sure that your sales CRM is right for it. That means that the features it comes with are relevant to your business strategies and that you’re paying for enough features to make the software worthwhile. And while it does make sense to look for a provider who offers tons of features if you’re hoping to scale in the future, nothing’s a guarantee, and you might end up paying for too much.
SMBs have no business purchasing enterprise-level CRM software and vice versa. The way the two kinds of businesses operate is much different. Enterprises are much more complex than the average mom-and-pop shop on Main Street. There are tons of features that SMBs will never think about like distribution and vendor management. Enterprises will never get what they want out of a CRM software catered to small businesses who are more interested in simple features like contact management. One way around this is by looking for sales CRM providers like Freshsales, who has plans catered to businesses of all sizes.
If you’re paying tons of money for features you don’t use and your provider doesn’t offer a scalable pricing plan, you need to consider switching providers. The money you’re wasting on the sales CRM software can be going towards something else that will make the lives of your agents much better. If agents are aware of how much you’re spending on software they’re hardly using, they’re not going to feel more inclined to learn the software. They’re going to wonder why you’re paying so much for something that they think matters so little.
That money could be spent on other features that actually make a difference in your sales strategy. There are tons of apps and integrations for businesses interested in bringing in third-party software to enhance the overall experience. If you’re finding that your agents either don’t like the software, are having trouble learning it, or aren’t ready to switch from the old systems, take the time to learn more about what kind of features they need to ensure they’re offering positive, personalized experience for every lead and customer.
4. Features Don’t Go Far Enough
Your business might also run into the very real problem that your CRM isn’t providing you with enough important features.
There are tons of features that will not only be of service to your sales team now but going forward as well. Some of these include AI, social media integrations, gamification, forecasting, customizable sales dashboards, and APIs. Let’s take a closer look at why each one of these features matters.
Machine learning technology helps businesses discover patterns in data that help users learn more about their customers. This also helps agents learn more about how they can use sales CRM software more effectively, which helps ensure agents are focused on the more personal tasks like meetings with leads.
Lead scoring is all about quickly and accurately determining which leads are best to pursue. Agents and managers, regardless of the size of their business, can take advantage of lead scoring features by ranking leads in terms of how soon and how likely they are to make a purchase, and if they’ll remain a customer in the future. It’s also good when looking at finances to determine if leads will pull in enough money to warrant the financial effort to bring them in.
Social Media Integrations
It’s wrong to assume social media plays no role in how successful your business is. Social media used to be used specifically for reconnecting with long-lost friends while finding new ones with similar interests, but businesses and people are realizing the potential that lies in it. People share their experiences on social media, whether they’re good or bad. Businesses advertise products and target potential customers based on what kind of pages and posts they’ve liked in the past. Sales CRM software needs to have some kind of social media integration in order for agents to find any additional context to use in conversations and meetings that can’t be found anywhere else. Sales CRM has also made live chat possible via social media. Take a look at Freshchat to see how they’re implementing live chat into their product line.
Gamification makes the everyday tasks fun for agents. Instead of seeing work like data entry as time-consuming and soul-sucking, sales CRM software looks to gamification for incentivizing the work by introducing friendly competition throughout the office. This can significantly improve the office culture that may or may not be lacking. If your sales CRM software doesn’t offer gamification features and you see your current office culture is hurting, switching to a new provider might be the solution.
Sales forecasting allows sales managers to see how all the data in the CRM software is going to affect your sales strategies. Many providers have this feature powered by AI to recognize certain patterns that can help influence necessary changes in the overall strategy. This can also help agents determine whether or not they need to change their own habits.
Customizable sales CRM dashboards are imperative for sales CRM software if the goal is to improve the employee experience. Many agents find the software hard to navigate, which, as we’ve said before, leads to frustration and a lack of willingness to learn and adapt. If an agent can’t use the sales CRM software you have in place, and there’s no way for the agent to make his or her life easier, it’s an indicator that the sales CRM software isn’t right for your company and will inevitably have an adverse effect on your sales strategy.
This is a much more specific and technical tool, but also necessary for personalizing the user experience. Many providers offer developers the tools they need to build their own apps and integrations if they aren’t already available, thus making the software easier to use and much more powerful at the same time. Again, the idea here is that less personalization is bad for agents because they can’t use the tools they need to offer a personalized experience for their leads and customers.
5. Lacking Omnichannel Capabilities and Features
Omnichannel solutions are like multichannel solutions, but there’s a subtle, yet significant difference. Multichannel solutions simply offer agents and leads multiple ways of contacting each other; omnichannel solutions take all of those channels and allow agents and leads to use them simultaneously. The goal is to allow both parties to contact each other in whatever way they see fit, which leads to a personalized buyer’s journey.
Many providers offer solutions that do just that by including VoIP integrations into their software while also offering solutions for multiple channels like phone, email, and social media. If your company prioritizes calling, but you’re looking to target younger generations who would rather email or text, you’re going to put yourself at a significant disadvantage when it comes time to converting those leads.
VoIP integrations are simply there to let agents call people right from their dashboard. If they’re already out of the office and they have access to the dashboard via their mobile device, they are taking advantage of the omnichannel features. What makes this omnichannel scenario so powerful for agents is the fact that they don’t have to go back and forth between the sales CRM app and their contacts list. Instead, they can simply open the app, find the contact they wish to call and make that call right from the dashboard. The VoIP-specific integration makes this possible even where service is poor because all that’s needed to make a call is access to WiFi.
There’s never going to be a single channel that’s looked at favorably by every single one of your leads, opportunities, and customers; however, this doesn’t mean you get to tell everyone to suck it up. If you’re already offering multiple channels for agents and leads to communicate, take the extra step to ensure those channels can work simultaneously. Otherwise, you’re leaving open the possibility of your customers looking elsewhere for a better experience. If your sales CRM software isn’t capable of handling this, it can have a lasting impact on your overall sales performance and funnel.
6. Limited or Inconsistent Software Updates
The overall state of CRM software suggests that the software is shifting towards the Cloud at a rapid pace. It’s becoming harder and harder to find providers that offer on-premise CRM software solutions because the high costs and required maintenance are a significant deterrent for small businesses.
Sales teams no longer have to worry about manually updating their software because Cloud-based providers update the software for you. These updates can come in the form of security, added features and integrations, and API tools. If your sales CRM isn’t updating its software regularly, this can lead to a drop in your sales performance or stall in your funnel. Let’s look a little closer at the updates your sales CRM should be performing regularly.
Hackers are getting more and more complex and security breaches seem to occur much more than we’re used to. There are a set of standards that Cloud-based CRM software is required to meet like GDPR for European-based leads and customers. If you notice your sales CRM software isn’t updating features like SSL encryptions, two-factor authentication, user management, role-based security, or allowing access to specific IP addresses only, you’re leaving your business open for a breach, and that never looks good.
Businesses across the board are required by law to make the data they collect from their European audiences accessible and transparent. Not doing so can result in significant fines from the EU, which would be an absolute worst-case scenario for any small business. It’s not likely that any Cloud-based CRM software provider would risk not complying with GDPR regulations, but you should always be on the lookout for any rule changes.
Added Features and Integrations
The tools your sales team use on a regular basis, like any tools of a trade, should be updated and upgraded whenever possible. Tons of sales automations now take advantage of AI and machine learning technology to recognize patterns in buyer behaviors, generate more advanced reporting, and more. Interfaces and dashboards should also be updated regularly to ensure easier navigation and ease-of-use.
Your sales CRM software can offer all the best tools and integrations for users to make the most out of the software, but at the end of the day, people want to customize the software to best fit their own personal needs. There’s no one way a business operates, which means one will always need something the other doesn’t. With API tools, developers can use a sales CRM platform that was hurting their sales performance and funnel and turn it into a platform that encourages agents and teams to use it however they please.
Without these regular updates, sales CRM can become a less-powerful, obsolete platform that’s more of a hindrance than a tool sales teams can depend upon for guidance when developing optimized sales plans that bring in a steady stream of leads while generating revenue. If you’re noticing your sales CRM software isn’t performing regular updates on its system, you’re putting your business at serious risk of hurting your performance.
7. Only a Small Handful Have Access
The strengths that come with Sales CRM software come from the accessibility across your entire sales team. If you’re a small business, you might be able to get away with limiting access because teams are smaller and word spreads faster and easier than with larger companies. Businesses have to understand if they’re going to invest in sales CRM software, they’re going to be making an investment that will ideally pay for itself.
When only a small handful of agents or managers have access to the data gathered by sales CRM software, it leaves open the possibility of putting themselves in a bubble. If a manager makes a big decision without consulting the agents beforehand, the agents will question that decision. If the agents only have access to the data, they’ll work on their own without consulting the managers first. Much of this is hearsay, but the whole purpose is to make your team stronger through transparency.
One of the strongest features of any CRM software is the ability to allow teams to collaborate in and out of the office. Gamification is a powerful and trending strategy businesses are using to bring teams together, but only if everyone has access. If you’re worried about the cost of running the sales CRM software to the point where you’re going to make it accessible to only a small handful of people, you’re already putting your sales team at a disadvantage. The irony of worrying about the cost of CRM is that it will ultimately be a more costly mistake than making the software more accessible for your sales agents.
When teams aren’t on the same page with each other, each task takes longer to complete because agents have to pay more attention to avoiding costly errors. These include working with outdated schedules, working with leads who are already speaking to other agents, and manually handling time-consuming data entry instead of focusing on building lasting relationships with leads.
8. Customers Are Telling You What’s Wrong
Sometimes the answers to your concerns are right in front of your face. Customers are the ones who’ve interacted with your business, and they are the ones in the best position to tell you what’s working and what’s not. Businesses are already aware of this, but not many are aware of how they use this information to their advantage.
For starters, customer experience surveys can be used to determine how a customer felt throughout the entire buyer’s journey. If they’re telling you that agents weren’t completely focused, or they kept referring to numbers instead of listening to what they were saying, that can be an indicator of sales CRM software getting in the way of the sales strategy. Like we’ve said before, sales CRM software has to be used as a guide. Proper strategies already have to be in place for sales CRM software to work effectively.
If you’re monitoring certain sales metrics, the numbers aren’t adding up, and customers are telling you the overall experience was anything but spectacular, that’s an indicator that you’re not using your sales CRM software properly. Sometimes customers aren’t going to respond to data-backed sales strategies advertised to work every time. Complaints here and there about the customer experience are inevitable, but if they seem to be relentless, it’s time to change things up.
Look at your sales CRM and determine whether or not the metrics you’re monitoring are relevant to your sales strategy; build a sales pipeline and funnel to outline how buyers are targeted and go through each stage of the journey; check responses to your emails, follow-ups, and phone calls, then determine where any potential hold-ups are. If you don’t do these things already, you’re not using your CRM effectively or prioritizing the customer experience.
9. Revenue Isn’t Increasing
Numbers alone aren’t enough to offer a customer a positive experience or a lead a quick journey through the pipeline. The metrics your sales team monitors are used to enhance your sales strategies. If you’re finding your daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly, or lifetime revenue goals aren’t being reached, and you know your agents are working harder than ever to meet your expectations, it’s time to look to the sales CRM software for answers. And this doesn’t mean purchasing Salesforce; there are a ton of Salesforce alternatives on the market that are just as powerful. Freshworks, for example, can tell you all about how they believe they stack up against their rival.
The way you do this is by determining how relevant the metrics you’re monitoring actually are to your business. Sales CRM software can be overwhelming, and sales managers might feel obligated to monitor everything, but sometimes having too much data can be a bad thing. If you have too much data, and your sales CRM software isn’t using the latest machine learning technology to break it all down, you won’t know what metrics matter to your specific strategy.
If you have too little data, and you’re trying to stretch it out to cover metrics like sales closing rate, call duration, closing rate, number of leads, customer lifetime value, and more, there won’t be enough data to give your sales team an accurate report of how effective your sales approach is. Your sales CRM should offer a customizable dashboard that allows users to put the metrics they need front and center. The metrics you determine are absolutely essential should also be shareable to all users so agents can see where they thrive and where they can use some work.
When determining what your ROI is by using a sales CRM, you should monitor metrics such as number of leads generated per day/week/month/year, total revenue, customer retention rate, length of sales cycle, close rate, and number of sales calls per opportunity. These metrics play a major role in determining how long it takes for a lead to become a customer and what happens after they’ve made a purchase. If your sales CRM software isn’t capable of pulling in numbers for these KPIs, organizing them, or offering alternatives, you can take that as a sign of a failed CRM strategy.
In 2014, Nucleus Research determined “the average returns from CRM have increased since 2011, from $5.60 to $8.71 for every dollar spent.” Four years later, it should be expected that those numbers have increased significantly. Every sales strategy is different; some might be better or worse off than others. If your strategy needs a lot of work, it would be wrong to assume your sales CRM can fix it in less than a year. If your strategy is already strong and you’re looking to optimize your sales funnel, changes should be apparent much sooner.
Think about it, it takes time for a sales strategy to lose steam and become ineffective. It doesn’t happen overnight. If you’re looking at reports and you notice a drop in revenue that started five years ago, you can’t expect your CRM to work miracles. It can only highlight what’s wrong. From there, it’s up to you to determine how much money you have to invest in fixing any obvious issues and how important it is to resolve those issues immediately. The longer you take, the longer the ROI.
The Final Word
Sales CRM software is an absolute essential for sales teams interested in optimizing their sales strategies. As we’ve discussed, it is not a miracle tool for sales agents and managers. It’s supposed to be used as a guide. If your sales strategy is already effective, and you’re simply looking to optimize, you can expect a higher and quicker ROI. If your strategy needs work, it can outline — with key metrics, charts, and reports — how and where you need to optimize.
Not paying attention to your sales performance and funnel can be more costly than investing in sales CRM software. Businesses earn over $8 for every $1 spent when using CRM software. If you’re using sales CRM software and you’re not seeing a significant increase like this, you need to look at how you’re using your sales CRM. There are many ways sales CRM can negatively affect your strategies, as we’ve already outlined. By paying attention to how your sales team uses CRM software, you give yourself the best possible chance of increasing revenue long-term and eliminating any potential hang-ups in your funnel.