CRM Stuff Category

Recommended CRM: Nutshell

nutshell-logoBack in February of 2015 I reviewed a number of CRM. I recently took a fresh look at each CRM and Nutshell has an even stronger top position than before. Here’s the full review and recommendation for Nutshell CRM. (Some of these notes may not make complete sense unless you’ve read the series on how to shop for CRM.)

What is excellent:

Their target market is not enterprise-size companies—it’s everyone else—so you will not have to fight inappropriate defaults.

It is genuine CRM with sales-tracking features (instead of sales-tracking calling itself “CRM.”) (more…)

How Your CRM is Secretly Driving You Crazy

Mystified man 2I get a lot of requests for CRM recommendations, often from people who already have one. “Our CRM is driving us crazy,” they say, “Can you recommend one?”

Well, I can’t give you a surefire recommendation – no one can – because the way you want and need to use CRM is unique. But I can clue you in on the real sources of aggravation, which will help you make the right choice next time.

A brief history of CRM (and why it matters)

When these programs first popped up, “CRM” stood for “Customer Relationship Management.” That’s customer as in after the sale occurred.  At some point, CRM companies realized expanding their target market to sales-users would bring in a nice revenue stream. They adjusted what the “C” stood for, added some features, and successfully transitioned their product. However, the customer-focus legacy is one of the things that often turns a helpful tool into an annoyance. For example… (more…)

How to Shop for a Great CRM: Overview

shop overviewMost of our problems with CRM begin with the way we shop for it. We get some recommendations, cruise through a few websites, sign up for a couple free trials, and choose one. I’m not suggesting this is a casual effort, most people put in a lot of time and careful consideration.

Unfortunately, looking at potential CRM puts us on a dangerous path right away because what the CRM shows us has a strong influence on what we think we’re looking for. A different sort of effort will help you choose more wisely. I wish I could tell you it will be an easier effort but I can’t. In fact, this article turned into enough pages that it’s divided into five steps/articles. (more…)

Shopping Step 1: Forget B2B versus B2C

Step oneMyths about what B2C and B2B mean can get in the way when looking for sales jobs, sales books or training, and when looking for good CRM—which is why this article is here.

The primary myths are that B2B is more complex, involves more sales meetings, a longer sales cycle, and higher dollars. In truth:

There are lots of products and services sold to consumers that involve complex issues, very high dollar amounts, many meetings, and more than one decision maker. Buying or selling a home is one example, investment and retirement services is another. What’s more, there are lots of inexpensive business products and services sold to a single decision maker in one meeting or transaction. As for the often unspoken conceit that selling B2B requires more skill…baloney.

Ignore B2B and B2C Labels

Despite the many things B2C and B2B have in common, many CRM identify as designed for one or the other (most choose the latter because that’s where the big bucks are). To find the right CRM you’ll have to ignore those labels and focus instead on features and functions. Clarifying a few things in advance will help you get a jump start.

  • Selling to businesses (or non-profits): Do you tend to dig deep or go broad in your approach to your market?
  • Selling to businesses or consumers: When does qualifying typically occur?
  • Selling to businesses or consumers: How complex is your typical sale?

The rest of this article helps you answer those questions. It also includes some general statements about CRM to help warm up your shopping skills. (more…)

Shopping for CRM Step 2: Contact Groups

Step twoMost of us look at CRM and think about how we’ll fit our prospecting, sales and other needs to it. This often begins with mentally sorting our contact groups as per what the CRM shows us.

But most of us have more types of contacts than we find in many CRM. If we do not recognize this in advance some of our contacts will be ignored by the CRM’s functions, making the CRM less valuable as a tool. The best way to avoid this over-arching problem is simple: Make a list of your contact groups and use it as reference as you shop. This article gives you an example list along with things to consider. Three tips for completing this step:

1: Do not create your list using the names and groups you know are in most CRM (do not use “lead,” “opportunity,” and so on).

Using those means you’re already following the CRM’s lead instead of the other way around. Instead, identify your groups using simple titles and descriptions.

2: If you want various people with various jobs to use the same CRM, create one all-inclusive list. Do not indicate who needs which contacts, and do not create separate lists.

Creating and using an inclusive list makes it more likely you’ll find one CRM that meets more needs.

3: Put your list on paper and use it as you shop.

If you try to complete the shopping process using a list in your head, what the CRMs show you will lead your thoughts…probably in the wrong direction. A paper reference helps keep your focus where it should be: your needs and wants.

Before I go into the example I want to clarify your finished list is not a file containing all of your contacts with a type or group assigned to each. Your list should only show the types or groups of contacts with any notes of detail. Now for the example list and things to start considering.


Step 3: Map CRM to Your Contact Groups

Step threeHave you created the list of groups of contacts you deal with? Now it’s time to see if a CRM will map to them. First, a few reminders and tips:

  • Step one was about identifying and listing groups of contacts using a simple approach, not CRM-lingo.
  • Your list should be on paper.
  • Do not let the CRM boss you around. Your groups and needs rule. As soon as you realize you’re trying to force those into the CRM’s mold, stop. I mean that literally: stop. Step away from the CRM and take a break. When you return, call the CRM’s support to see if they can help, or take the CRM out of consideration and move on to the next one.
  • Apply a five minute rule. If you cannot figure something out in five minutes that CRM is not worthy. Move on to the next one.

Alright, now to how the mapping process works using the example list from step two.


Step 4: Test CRM for Marketing

Step fourBefore we get into evaluating a CRM’s fit for marketing here is a definition and delineation:

Marketing is the stuff we do to gain our prospects’ attention and regain our clients’ attention. Marketing tools include mail, email, phone, and web-based interaction — to name the most common tools. (Prospecting is marketing, too; it’s the things we do more directly, like calling and canvassing.)

Selling begins once the prospect agrees to evaluate the fit between what we offer and what they want and need. We’re not selling unless and until we have that agreement. (more…)

Step 5: Test CRM for Selling

Step fiveAt last we come to the sweet spot for many CRM: management of contacts within the selling process. As you get into testing CRMs’ fit for your selling, remember these key points:

  • You probably have contacts beyond those you are selling to. If your CRM doesn’t support dealing with those contacts it will be a waste of time and money—and will probably drive you crazy.
  • Put aside the issue of B2B versus B2C (and CRM branding). It’s more about a complex sale with many steps versus a sale with less complexity and fewer steps.
  • With so many features focused on selling, it’s easy to think what you see in the CRM is how your selling should operate. This is not about “should,” it is about finding a tool that suits your selling reality.