Here we are once again! Another year about to finish and everyone gearing up for the Christmas festivities and party season.
If you are a CRM Administrator, then this can be a reasonably quiet period from mid-December until the first week in the New Year. And if you are in B2B, then you know most email campaigns and other sales/marketing activity won’t really be that effective in these three weeks. So, we can use this period as a great time to reflect and plan as well as perhaps catching up on those posts or articles you bookmarked, and meant to read!
And of course, with any CRM system, there are always a host of ‘admin’ type tasks that you’ve been meaning to do but had to put off in the last few months. These tasks that need doing, but they shouldn’t just be for you to do. Use this time to galvanise your sales and marketing team to maximise their use of this period in helping you in fine tuning their own part of the CRM system with activities ready for 1st January.
The key, in my view is to have a list and to plan out the key tasks over these next few weeks, so there is meaningful activity each day.
Key Tasks for next three weeks
You can choose your own priority list, but my suggested order is as follows:
1. Data Data Data!
My own top priority is to start with Data integrity. This is where you need to review all those ‘orphan’ records, perhaps where data has not been entered in or updated in a while. E.g. recent Contact with little information on Job or Contact details.
To do this systematically, first look at your Leads. Start with say Leads created in the last few months, this makes it more manageable before going back further, plus you will get some quick wins and get a good idea of how big a task this may be. You can then go further back depending on the time it takes and your time available, perhaps setting aside an hour per day. It is also important to make sure any ‘referral sources’ are updated to enable you to review your campaign effectiveness over the last few months. Many in the sales team may not attribute a ‘source’ to the Lead or new initial Contact.
Next look at your Contacts. Again, working backwards for a few months, check you have good profiles, so as a minimum, I would focus in ensuring that you have phone numbers, especially mobiles as well as the Company and just as useful Job functions or Titles. Make sure you have no orphan records where a contact has been created but is not linked to a company or account. Also, if people have left an organisation, make sure you flag this in a consistent way, so it is clear they have left and Marketing don’t carry on sending messages to get bounce backs.
Accounts. Again, ensure Customer and key Account information is up to date. Check the primary contact as many CRM system will show a primary contact and make sure they are still important and your main day to day contact.
Then move on to your Sales Pipeline.
Make sure all your Opportunities or Deals, have their core information updated and your important key fields are up to date, especially those fields and your custom fields used for tracking or analysis, so ‘close by’ dates, ‘source campaign’, ‘stage’ or ‘next step’ and any key stakeholder information, including your own sales team are aligned with the record.
Sharing this Task
Whilst the Leads and contacts and Accounts are important, for most Administrators, you may want to commence this process yourself first and enable Sales Team to put their effort into their own Sales Pipeline and their own Contacts as their primary focus.
Make sure they run through each of their opportunities that are still open and really give it some thought as to the viability of winning and when, plus adding in any missing information, ‘next steps’ perhaps. Modern CRM systems enable you to do this quickly with editing in a List view, so Reps should be able to do this task quite fast without diving into each Opportunity as a “first pass” review and edit.
A “second pass” may involve looking at individual Deals or Opportunities, perhaps with a focus on those closing in first quarter or first six months of 2024.
Make sure you have created a Report to track progress made each week and maintain the focus on progress made by Rep. For example, number of records updated and reviewed to spot weekly any ‘gaps’ or missing core data. You may want to send reminders out here each day and of course ensure you have Sales Management Support on these tasks.
2. Look to start to use your CRM systems new AI features
All the leading vendors, Dynamics 365, Salesforce, HubSpot etc have made great strides this year in bringing AI into their applications. However, likely as not, you may still be catching up on what this means to your own CRM system.
Set some time aside to research any new features and how this can be used to benefit you and your Sales and Marketing Team. You need to view these new features in my view as a specific new wave of changes and thus plan how you will introduce these and get your team using the best AI features. Many may have seen new features, but possibly ignored this.
Looking at introducing these features, my starting point is always at the top of the sales funnel or journey. Again, you need to work systematically from initial Website Forms etc improvements through to Lead (including contact/account creation with for example, better auto-completion of data). This aligns with first task above in trying to improve quality of information captured and consistency, plus helping to reduce Sales Team workload. Then move onto Sales Opportunity or Deal creation and finally through to your After-Sales processes, for example for Contract Renewals.
It may make sense to introduce and do training on these new features to the sales and marketing team by the step in the journey, so this is easier to absorb.
The key as always is looking at the time blockers in the same process so. A key AI improvement common is call or meeting recording. So, look at how recording meetings and calls can produce transcripts to enable your reps to quickly generate key notes and create email summaries.
This is just often a question of training in using your CRM own AI /ChatGPT prompt functionality, since in some form this functionality is now appearing across most leading CRM Vendor systems, although it may just need turning on.
You may need to plan training sessions for the Team on these new AI productivity enhancements early in the New Year, if you’ve not yet adopted this already.
With follow-up Team meetings perhaps in January to embed the usage and give confidence in these features.
Many clients may be reluctant to see or meet with Reps in that first short week in January as they themselves get back up to speed. This gives you a last chance to do some training or refresher sessions, especially for those people who maybe took the full two weeks off, to enable them to catch up.
3. Automation and Process Review
Review your automation processes. Are these still current and useful?
Are your customer journeys or ways of engaging changing. For example, has there been more usage of Webchat this year. Should you investigate the new AI enhanced Chatbot features being rolled out by most vendors to improve this process and engagement.
Then consider are there now other automations you can put in place to enhance productivity and help give your sales and marketing team more time back to focus on higher value work?
It is good idea to talk to people to uncover their pain points and then you can investigate and show how simple automations can help your sales team and remove some tedious task such as sharing key fields across processes or records.
4. Reports and Dashboards.
Review if these are up to date.
Should you be looking at creating new Dashboards or Reports or do you now need to include or track new metrics. Review the trends year on year, what is changing?
This is my final CRM task and this is something you can dip into and out of.
5. Begin your New Year Kick-off meeting planning.
Most organisations, especially those with calendar fiscal years, will be looking to inform the team of their budget etc and targets for the forthcoming year. Whilst a lot of this may be content driven (again AI can help here) in finding industry trends and impacts, the key thing here is how CRM can help.
So, this could be a great time to investigate the use of Goals and Forecasts if you’ve not used before. These features are now common to most CRM systems and can help and support the Sales Team to show them where there are situated. These features now show their status or progress and forecasted achievement through AI projects and through great report visualisation options.
A shorter post this month. After all, we all have a lot to do in December and this time goes by very quickly. As I hope I’ve illustrated, I do believe these next new two or three weeks offer a great opportunity to be able to catch up on those things you meant to do, but business as usual got in the way!
As a guide, assign some quiet time in your diary each day, I’d suggest a minimum of one to two hours in the same focussed slot, to run through these tasks, with the Data Task being every other day. This can be your coffee and mince pie time!
By giving a focus and short timelines to these jobs, this will give you and the team some impetus and enable you all to enter the New Year, both fresh and with some of those nagging tasks completed and behind you.
Importantly by embracing other team members, you are able to divide some of this workload across the whole team, helping to ensure your organisation is moving forward with confidence and a newly cleansed and more up-to-date CRM system ready to support the business from 1st January.
Merry Christmas to all and thanks, if you’ve got this far, for reading this month’s post.
18th December 2023