The importance of solving CRM adoption for today’s sales

There is divided opinion whether investing in a CRM is justified and if implementing one does bring more sales for a company. According to a survey by Gartner, Inc., the world’s largest technology research and advisory firm, more than 50 percent of CRM implementations are considered failures from the company’s point of view. On the other hand, consider a recent study from Nucleus Research. It states that for every dollar a company invests in a CRM, they get a $5.60 return of investment. I believe that CRM implementations fail not because of what CRMs fail to offer in essence since they are helpful in themselves, but because of the difficulties companies face with CRM adoption.

A CRM, in its basic form, contains features that help salespeople take advantage of the unified information about leads and using these information to steer more of their leads into deals that are won. CRMs also encourage collaboration and seamless task management among sales teams. Through the use of a CRM, information is gathered in one place and can easily be managed. Delegation of tasks also takes seconds when using a CRM. These features can only be fully utilized when data is consistent between different areas where customer data is stored, and when customer communications are automatically being tracked.

Solving CRM adoption is all about increasing sales productivity, by removing unwanted steps in the workflow of salespeople. This makes salespeople close more deals faster and saves them time as a result.

When the problem of adoption is surpassed, then it’s only a matter of time before the positive effects of having a CRM become imminent for companies who have taken the leap. CRMs have been around since the 1990’s but only in the last decade have they been put into the tech spotlight due to recent advancements on the web. Take the notable growths of Salesforce (included in Forbes fastest growing companies) and SugarCRM (shooting for an IPO this year after they recently went cashflow positive) who are making full use of the cloud. Also, only recently have the problem of CRM adoption been addressed through integrations across various web-based services, e.g. CRM-email integrations like Cirrus Insight and Collabspot . Those in the enterprise world who took advantage of how the web is connecting the world in new ways have truly taken their sales productivity to another level.

5 ways Collabspot helps us work faster – MarkNet Group

Figuring out how to work fast and efficiently is always on my mind. As the owner of a fast paced web development company, MarkNet Group, my team juggles multiple projects, marketing activities, sales and operations. The faster we get things done without compromising quality means a higher profit margin.

One of our favorite tool sets is the seamless integration of Collabspot, Highrise and Gmail. We call them the trifecta at the office. Here is how they help us increase productivity and revenue:

1. Moving Over to Google Apps for Business

This was the best operations move we ever made. No more IT headaches dealing with the Exchange servers and remote access. We share our calendars, documents and take advantage of the Google Apps tool set such as the pre-canned emails that have improved our response time on inquiries.

2. Virtual CRM that is Simple to Use – Enter Highrise

We already had a CRM but people were not using it because the learning curve was too high or cumbersome to use. This all changed when we discovered Highrise. It integrates with our project management system, Basecamp, and everyone uses it to capture leads, customers, notes, etc. No more annoying calls from co-workers asking for customer details on something I already explained. It is all in Highrise or Basecamp and its easy to access.

3. Marrying Gogle Apps and Highrise – The Savior – Collabspot

I had one minor problem with my Google Apps and Highrise setup – I had to keep clicking between my Highrise browser tab and my Google Apps tab. This may sound like a minor issue but when you get 50 important emails an hour (like I do), this is an issue. When I am in a rush I would opt to not transfer information from my email to Highrise then waste time digging through my emails. Collabspot has solved these problems for me wonderfully.

Here is my trifecta workflow:

Sales Workflow

  • A prospect expresses an interest in our services.
  • Using Collabspot, I immediately add them to Highrise as a prospect without leaving gmail. A few simple clicks and presto, they are in Highrise.
  • I then click the Deals link in Collabspot and they are now added to my Deals/Pipeline with all of the details.
  • I reply and the email is attached to the prospect and deal in Highrise.
  • If I need to get input from a co-worker before I reply now they can see the same deal I added and read the details. They respond and I get a note emailed to me.
  • As I am exchanging emails with the prospect, using Collabspot, I can check off ‘add to Highrise’ and all of the communications are stored in Highrise under the deal.

Customer Support

  • Customers email us for support and without leaving gmail, we click on our Collabspot tab and create a Case and/or Task in Highrise.
  • I can even assign it to a specific person and they get an email notification. All this without leaving my gmail.
  • If I get a follow up email, I click on my Collabspot tab and this clients activity appears to the right. No more going through emails, I can view their Highrise activity without leaving gmail.

Collabspot has enabled us to increase our productivity and profits margins. Being able to do some without leaving our inbox not only helps us work faster in the moment but saves us time because now we actually use our CRM. Capturing all of the important communications and deals within Highrise means its easy to review case history and provide better support.

The seamless integration of Gmail, Highrise and Collabspot is now the “can’t live without” toolset in our company.

About the guest author:

Gina Nieves is an expert at getting increased sales through websites. Since founding MarkNet Group, she has overseen the design of 500 websites and $30 million in sales. She writes about how to increase sales through your website on her blog. You can follow her at Google+ or Twitter.

Tim from Cloudspace on using Collabspot

Collabspot is what Highrise should have built a long time ago. It’s the perfect tool for doing consultative sales — I end up focusing on small numbers of people, and being able to easily document our discussions and schedule followups are huge for me!

For my workflow, there are two killer features in the Collabspot plugin for Gmail:

  • The first is being able to automatically BCC my Highrise account so that important emails get saved into Highrise. There’s an option to BCC every email I send, but I tend to use the one-click option to choose which ones are saved so that I don’t clutter Highrise with things like scheduling calls and other minor back-and-forth emails.
  • The other thing is that I can add tasks without having to open Highrise in a separate tab and search for that contact to add a task. The time savings from this alone is worth the premium version of Collabspot (which is still only $9/month).

One thing that I really appreciate which isn’t usually talked about as much — the support. After I signed up, I found that when creating a contact through Collabspot, I ended up having to fill in some of the fields by hand, even though the information was in my contact’s footer. I emailed Jeremi to ask him about this, and he told me that it was already on their roadmap for the next release. When I reported a (small) bug in the new feature, it was fixed in days. Especially given the high-touch, collaborative sales that Cloudspace relies on, seeing another company that does this reminds me that they’re going to take care of me.

I went through the 15-day trial and immediately signed up for a full year of the premium plan. Everyone who uses Highrise and Gmail’s web interface should use Collabspot.

About the guest author:

Tim Rosenblatt handles business development at Cloudspace, a full-stack web and mobile software development agency.

We’re joining JFDI.Asia’s startup accelerator!

JFDI.Asia

You might have noticed in tech news this week (TechCrunch, TheNextWeb, e27, WebGeek.ph, SGEntrepreneurs) about the announcement of 8 startups who made it out of the 262 teams that applied for the 2013 JFDI.Asia accelerator program. We’re one of the accepted ones!

For those who don’t know, JFDI.Asia operates the longest-running, most successful seed accelerator program in South East Asia, and we’re very pleased to announce our participation in their 2013 accelerator. The bootcamp will start on February 21, and the Collabspot team is all set to fly to Singapore next week.

We’re looking forward to work with awesome mentors that will guide us to grow our business in full speed and bring it to the next level. As promised, we’ll keep on improving our extension and continue to increase our following of happy customers. The goal of Collabspot is to solve problems surrounding CRM adoption.

For all those who assisted and supported us during the application process in any way possible, thank you! Let’s keep the ball rolling.

6 tips to increase CRM adoption

Start with the basic features

At the start, your sales team does not have to adopt the full spectrum of features that your CRM offers. Let them start using the basic, intuitive features of the CRM such as creating or importing leads, logging customer correspondences, and creating tasks specific to prospects. These features are usually those that have similar counterparts in traditional customer relations management.

Offer training and tutorials that are easy to consume

According to a Neochange survey, only less than 10% of CRM users reach an acceptably effective usage of a CRM. This shows how CRM adoption can introduce a steep learning curve to any adopter. Offering training can be overwhelming for early CRM adopters. We all know that the easier to consume the training is, the more fluid it is for trainees to learn the skills offered. One example of an easy-to-consume CRM tutorial is this one by Grovo for Highrise (21 minutes total, containing 15 lessons) or the getting started resources upon first login to SugarCRM. Only after the early CRM adoption stage can you offer training that involves more technical aspects of the CRM, or training that’s steered towards how the CRM specifically fits in your company’s marketing and sales.

Separate doing customer relations from managing customer data

The process of doing sales requires personalized engagement for salespeople, i.e. their mindset needs to be in the shoes of a certain prospect so they can be conditioned to write emails that are within the prospect’s context. When you’re interrupted by customer data management when in the heat of doing customer correspondence, you will have to regain your interaction mindset. To avoid such a fallback, separate time allotted for customer relations in the email from time allotted for data management tasks in the CRM.

Use built-in social media integrations

It’s undeniable that the way of doing sales have changed in recent years due to social media. Early CRM adopters are probably familiar in using social media, or have probably used it to deliver some promotions and to attract sales prior to using a CRM solution. By using built-in social media integrations, you are giving your sales team and potential customers a form of communication they’re familiar in. Social media integrations also enable them to interact with prospects in a more casual manner outside of normal (and oftentimes formal) forms of engagement, such as emails.

Use an import contacts feature or automate importing of already existing data

One of the most time-consuming activities in the early stage of CRM adoption is migrating the data of pre-existing contacts to the CRM. Almost all CRM solutions these days provide an extensive list of contact importing options. Use these features to easily leverage your CRM adoption and to start doing sales earlier using the CRM without leaving out any already existing data.

Use plugins and extensions

Integrations are important towards completing an ecosystem that specifically fits the way your business does sales and handles customer relationships. These ecosystems not only include the CRM itself, but also mailing lists, social media accounts, and most importantly your email inbox.

Salespersons and business developers spend a lot of time in their mailbox. To ensure good adoption among users, it is important to lower the barrier to access information that is in the CRM and to update this information. For Highrise and SugarCRM users, there’s Collabspot to bring the CRM to work in Gmail or Google Apps. For Salesforce users, they now have an Outlook side panel to integrate with the email client, and Cirrus Insight offers another integration that brings Salesforce to Gmail. These CRM-email integrations give the best bang for the buck for people spending a lot of time in emails, because time saved translates to money saved.

Save yourself from repetitive writing using email templates!

Today we’re happy to introduce our extension’s new feature: email templates.

Salespeople can now save time from doing repetitive emails by using the email templates feature in Gmail Labs. This also removes the stress associated with writing the same thing over and over again, so that salespeople can focus more on personalization rather than repetition.

The email templates can be accessed when composing a message in Gmail, using the button with an email icon.

It will show you a list of existing email templates that you can use. Selecting a template will load it in your Gmail compose form.

To create a new template, just click on the button found under the list of existing templates. This will bring you to the template editor page. Clicking on the pen icon beside each existing template’s name will also bring you to the template editor page, as seen below.

The template editor page contains a text editor where you can fill out the title and body of your template. It also contains the dynamic fields that can be included in the template and automatically extracted from the current email that’s opened.

Know others who are also using Highrise CRM and Gmail / Google Apps? Recommend our productivity extension to them by using the “Recommend Collabspot” email template!