Underutilizing CRM During an Economic Downturn

Phone calls this week with customers and for sales references underscored a somewhat disturbing trend I’ve noticed within the CRM industry. Business simply aren’t using their CRM packages to the fullest. When the going gets tough, everybody is forced to dig a little deeper; CRM isn’t an exception.

In the call center, Martin touched upon this topic last week when he blogged about how most technology in the call center isn’t focused on optimizing the customer interaction, it’s focused on running the call center. But initiatives can be utilized to automate transactions, improve productivity, and retain customers. For example, we have one customer that leverages Sugar Professional and other parts of their IVR and telephony system to identify and automate new uses for self-service interactions, thus reducing the volume of calls into the call center, freeing up agents for more needy situations.

Sales is no exception either. A well implemented CRM system has capabilities to optimize prospect research, lead generation and nurturing, sales collateral management, team collaboration, etc., all creating a competitive edge. Yet I still hear stories of end-user adoption issues and the underutilization of features and functions all the time.

Understanding how to optimize the use of what you already have, or enhancing what you have with some innovative add-ons such as Web 2.0 prospect management and selling, will help “beef up” an SFA solution and help companies survive what promises to be a tough year.