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When is the Right Time to Switch to an Enterprise CRM

By Doug Sylvester

Enterprise CRM

CRM solutions that are capable of agility and speed in terms of end user access are critical to boosting sales and overall salesforce empowerment. But for the many organizations that installed CRM software when the company was small, system challenges and limitations have begun to sneak up on them as the business grows.

While there is never a good time to replace a legacy CRM system, a close examination of operations will reveal how a limited CRM poses a risk to growth. Given the reality of scarce resources, these businesses are left asking, when exactly does it make sense to switch to an enterprise CRM solution? The answer starts with understanding what the right enterprise CRM should enable, which includes:

  • Sales management
  • Marketing campaigns
  • Collaboration between departments
  • Data analysis and reporting
  • True automation across numerous time-consuming process functions
  • Tools that enable a true customer-centric experience 

It would take more space than time to fully explain how these attributes would play out in an enterprise CRM to show the point where business growth requires the switch. In fact, that determination requires a deep internal assessment of each business’s unique operational needs and workforce processes. That’s why the short answer to this question of when to make the switch is when the legacy CRM shows that it cannot handle all the needs of the company as it grows. The longer answer requires a closer look at operational efficiencies and connecting the dots between tangible bottlenecks and roadblocks to that efficiency.

 

Application, System and Multi-Channel Integration Limits

There are numerous signs that a business is ready for an enterprise CRM. For example, as a company grows, the value of a CRM system is tied to its ability to integrate with other corporate systems. Without ERP, business intelligence or marketing analytics systems integration, growing businesses cannot compete effectively. These organizations need a centralized journey approach of orchestration and case management, so they can connect each customers journey.

This requires connection across existing infrastructure and applications as they exist today and as they change tomorrow. This type of seamless app integration is vital to operational efficiency, conversions and improved customer experiences. The ability to identify new opportunities by pulling in data from multiple sources through APIs and similar resources will increase data quality and analytical results that fuel accurate and campaigns and contextually-based content approaches and outreach.

In another example it can be seen that small businesses in growth mode quickly grow beyond the confines of direct mail and email. In order to be competitive, they require CRM systems that can provide:

  • Push and in-app messaging
  • Full social media integration
  • Web
  • Mobile
  • POS
  • Granular customer segmentation
  • Rich data visualization and reporting
  • AI-based analytics 

While a true multi-channel approach depends on the data gathered today, the need for gathering, analyzing, and segmenting more data from more varied sources will only expand over time. Multi-channel outreach is no longer an option, so the CRM must be capable of holistically addressing multi-channel data ingress and campaigning.

It’s important to have a single-pane-of-glass approach to access and use that clearly addresses the needs of sales, marketing and other departmental connections. Many small business CRMs create silos between needed applications, systems and department in ways that negatively impact channel approaches. The cause behind this impact comes down to the CRM software’s inability to provide a single source of truth in terms of:

  • Customer data,
  • Marketing tools and processes
  • Campaign targeting
  • Budgeting and planning
  • Sales outreach

Businesses with CRM systems that are incapable of providing this holistic view will suffer in terms of conversions, customer experience, costs controls, and brand building.

Modern CRMs like Microsoft Dynamics 365 combine segmented demographic and purchase history with cross-channel and multi-channel permissions and engagements to deliver a 360-dgree view of the customer. This provides an ability to look at the entire customer base and leverage information learned in one place for different aspects of customer outreach and experience. The result is that sales, marketing and the entire value chain can work from and contribute to the same playbook.

Without the ability to quickly and easily access accurate data nearly anywhere and at any time, speed and value that can determine business and marketing outcomes can be severely compromised. In addition to accessing data at each touch point, businesses need to know what to do with that data. This can impact everything from brand messaging, testing and consistency to campaign targeting, budgeting and scheduling regardless of channel.

 

Reporting and Tracking Limitations

There are numerous micro-measurements that can be made across all channels that can hold valuable opportunities. A CRM that doesn’t have the required business capabilities for comprehensive reports that can be run quickly creates bottlenecks and stifles campaigns.

This manifest in ways that increase costs and lower the potential for returns in terms of new customers through to the lifetime value of the entire customer base. Having a CRM capable of tapping into and managing those measurements can be the first step to true contextual marketing.

Legacy CRM systems that were adopted when the business was small often lack the ability to allow sales and marketing to keep track of their contacts in a way that maximize sales and retention over time. This can result in the loss of vital information or accuracy around customer preferences.

When a business is very small, it can often operate effectively with simple contact management, interaction tracking, and automated follow-ups, but this won’t be enough as they grow. It doesn’t take long to reach the point where a limited CRM can quickly become overwhelmed and get bogged down in this process through storage and access limitations.

Figuring out just how robust of a system you need today and tomorrow can be challenging. Many businesses in a growth mode have a limited in-house ability to assess workflows, operational goals, interdepartmental needs along with the ability to identify the existing gaps and silos in their current CRM approach. Having a solution partner that has deep experience in CRM and business operations assessment and integration can help businesses to overcome those challenges.

Choosing the right partner with extensive knowledge in highly scalable and adaptive enterprise CRMs like Microsoft Dynamics can support customized and effective implementations that minimize impact while maximizing benefits to the business. It’s about more than just planning, coordinating, and implementing large-scale CRM projects with no downtime or loss of data. It’s also about choosing the right system and approach based on strategic planning with future growth and needs in mind.

A legacy CRMs designed for a small business that is incapable of scaling and technology integration to meet evolving needs can be unproductive or even a hindrance. This can be seen in an inability to provide advanced reporting and analytics, workflow automation and integration across all related applications and systems. In the age of digital transformation, businesses quickly reach a point where having a CRM that is capable of delivering these features can benefit the business today and grow with them tomorrow.

Topics: Dynamics 365, CRM

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