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Why SOPs are the key to CRM Success

Recently my posts have focused on the challenges faced when introducing CRM systems such as the need for gaining User adoption and the use of On-Boarding techniques.Why SOP's are the secret to best use of your CRM.

One item which was mentioned was the need to have clear and documented SOP’s or Standard Operating Procedures. SOP’s can be critical in ensuring that your users have together with their CRM User Manual their own set of key processes documented. These Standard Operating Processes are used internally for informing and explaining to users critical workflows or information requirements.

What are the benefits of using SOP's?

Why is this just not adding more paperwork? In my view, there are four core benefits:-

• Available documented reference point for Users to refer too.

• SOP's ensure a Consistent approach in data collection or working that process. And a consistent approach is key in ensuring quality of input

• SOP's help with embedding systemisation, a key item when growing a business.

• Faster on-boarding of new Staff

Having good ,clear and simply to understand SOP's as Simon Williams of Arrivista, an award winning Action Coach has stated, is a key fundamental. As Simon says….

“Having documented process of your systems is perhaps the key building block we look for when reviewing and understanding businesses looking to grow. Our experience has shown that those companies with documented procedures tend on the whole to be a lot more effective and efficient in what they do. More importantly having SOP's means that the management team can focus on growing the business confident that new staff will adhere to the SOP's and follow the process. Not having any SOP's is a source of "growing pain" and this can inhibit their growth, so the systemisation and consistency offered by creating SOP's is well worth the investment in time.

A typical CRM SOP: "Capturing Sales Leads

Perhaps the easiest SOP to explain and the most common for new CRM users is the information required when entering a new Sales Lead.

This can be verbally given, but having a documented Standard Operating Procedure will help to embed this process and more importantly ensure consistency of approach.

For ourselves, one of our key user fields is the “Source” field containing a selection of how the Lead found us, for example, "Referral", "Email Campaign", "Website" etc. How your prospect found you or you found them is particularly important for marketing feedback and enabling Marketing (and Sales) to track and measure which campaigns are being successful in generating sales leads and ultimately Sales Opportunities and conversions.

So, completing the required information and process can be critical and after all, Sales Leads generation and quality is probably the biggest source of interaction between Sales and Marketing departments!

What information does a SOP for CRM contain?

These documents don’t have to be “War and Peace” with pages of information, better to just follow the sales processes through from initial lead through to quotation, order and customer service or helpdesk actions with simple clear and quick to update documents for each section.

We try to keep ours as simple as possible and mostly this involves screenshots as much as possible of that part of CRM, such as the Lead form with a description of why the key fields are needed to be completed as discussion earlier.

Typically, each department should produce their own e.g. Sales, Marketing and Customer Service, which will all then evolve over time. A CRM SOP contents should include:-

• SOP Number

• SOP Title

• Overview Description and why it is important

• What the Process does and the importance of any impact further on down the chain

• Screenshot(s) and what are the key steps in this process

• What is the number of the next process this connects to.

• Issue Date, Author and document location

As mentioned earlier, the key is not to have to have a long documents since these need to be referred to quickly and easily. Our view is for either one of two page processes which are then easier to write, digest and implement quickly.

Your own CRM User manual should be used as reference here for the general use and flow of your CRM system whilst your SOP’s complement this with a focus on the specific steps or processes needing to take place.

For more examples of the sort of SOP’s, MAS have used plus some sample templates, please refer to our more detailed blog on this subject.

3rd November 2014