The money machine is officially broken.
That lavish VC-funded life we experienced back in the early 2020s is long gone. RIP to the days of doing anything to acquire customers without worrying about the return on investment.
“The SVB collapse was a turning point,” says Mark Lerner, Director of Growth Marketing at DealHub.io. “People had a wake-up call that we’re in a different mode.”
Now it’s all about the bottom line again. And, as tired as the phrase has become, “do more with less.”
That means, in part, cutting down and consolidating those cumbersome tech stacks and focusing on the most important piece of software you have: your CRM (customer relationship management) solution.
So how exactly do you ensure you’re getting the best return on investment out of your CRM?
I spoke with five RevOps leaders to find the answer.
Calculating CRM ROI
In 2014 (a century ago in tech years), Nucleus Research came out with a study saying that CRMs pay back $8.71 for every dollar spent. This is the most cited stat for CRM ROI, but in reality, every company’s situation is too unique to find an accurate average.
Finding your own CRM ROI is… complicated. That is, there’s a simple equation you can use, but it works best if you haven’t implemented a CRM system yet.
If you’re starting from zero and still figuring out how to choose a CRM, the ROI calculation is simple:
(Revenue Increase After Implementation - CRM Implementation Cost) / Cost of CRM Investment = Your CRM ROI
Keep in mind that the costs will be highest in your first year because of user training, onboarding, and time spent researching the best CRM software.
Finding the Total Cost of Ownership
Consider every cost that goes into implementing and operating your CRM, including:
- Subscription costs
- Implementation costs
- Ongoing maintenance fees
- Employee salaries (since the CRM doesn’t populate itself)
- Costs for integrations or add-ons (since a CRM can’t do everything on its own)
Measuring Productivity Improvements
Your CRM solution, when optimized, helps your sales team focus on the right tasks instead of spinning their wheels.
To track how your CRM is impacting your team’s productivity, you can look at changes in:
- Sales activity volume (calls made, emails sent, etc.)
- Speed to lead
- Sales cycle length
Impacting GTM Motions
Your CRM can help you optimize your conversion rates for both new and existing customers.
Sebastien van Heyningen, RevOps Expert at SalesOps.io, suggests you start by asking questions like “How does your CRM affect your Customer Acquisition Cost?”
You can easily measure both Cost Per Lead (CPL) and Revenue Per Lead (RPL).
Cost Per Lead = Cost of Generating Leads / Total Leads Acquired
Revenue Per Lead = Revenue / # of Leads
You can also track your existing customer retention metrics:
- Churn rate
- NPS scores
- Product usage
Optimizing Your Existing CRM To Maximize ROI
If, like most people, you’ve already implemented your CRM, you should start focusing on optimization.
I spoke with five RevOps leaders to figure out the fastest path to ROI.
The consensus on where to start was resounding: Data.
ROI of CRM Starts with Data Hygiene
Your CRM should, of course, be your single source of truth. You know the saying: “If it’s not in the CRM, it doesn’t exist.”
“There’s never enough information—ever,” says Simon. “The more information you have, the better decision you can make.”
But with so many different people inputting data, CRM data management can get more than a little messy without the right business processes in place.
Inaccurate and duplicate customer data can decrease your pipeline accuracy, ruin in-progress deals, and even cause lawsuits.
There are two main ways to ensure your CRM is accurate:
- Integrating all your tech with your CRM and setting up automations
- Getting your sales reps to follow your CRM processes
Setting Up CRM Integrations and Automations
In order for your CRM to be your source of truth, all the information from your other systems needs to sync.
But first, do you even need all that tech? After all, one easy way to improve your ROI is to cut your costs.
Figure Out Which CRM Integrations You Actually Need
Before you start thinking about buying integrations, make sure you’re making the most of what you already have.
To maximize the ROI of your CRM, the first step is to actually adopt the full features of the tool.
Lerner adds that as we cut down our tech stacks, we need to “understand what we’re getting from each of these tools today.”
We need to ask ourselves what we can solve using the CRM alone.
Add Integrations That Boost ROI
It seems weird to talk about adding costs, but your CRM isn’t going to do everything you want out of the box
Find integrations that help you improve your conversion rate like revenue intelligence software that provides signals when deals are at risk.
Simon shared this example of a CRM automation: You know a deal is more likely to win if it’s multithreaded with 4 personas. The CRM can alert you if one of those people isn’t already involved in the deal.
Put a Software Purchasing Policy in Place
Back when VC money was cheap, lots of companies bought too much software that didn’t talk to each other.
“Every team in a company had their own exclusive, best-in-class tool,” says Lerner. “Oftentimes, the connections between these weren’t perfect.”
To avoid these kinds of issues, make sure every software purchase in the company—across departments—goes through RevOps. If anyone wants to use a tool that doesn’t integrate natively with your CRM, make sure you can use a tool like Zapier to connect them.
Getting Your Sales Reps to Follow Your CRM Processes
CRM implementation without user adoption is basically like throwing money out the window.
But everyone knows it’s a slog getting sales reps to comply with the processes that RevOps builds. It’s why RevOps nagging sales reps to update the CRM is such a common refrain.
However, improving CRM adoption follows the same change management principles as an organizational shift.
Figure Out Who Needs to Adopt the CRM Process
Narrow down who actually needs to use the CRM before even focusing on adoption.
"Not everyone who has a CRM license likely needs a CRM license," explains van Heyningen. "Figure out who hasn’t signed into the CRM for a long time and ask if their access is completely necessary."
Look at who is administering your CRM. There should only be a few people with the ability to make major changes.
CRMs are expensive so there’s no point in paying for seats you’re not using.
Start with Enablement
It’s hard to follow a process if it’s not well-documented.
“You still have to educate and train and drive enablement,” says Simon.
Powers suggests that technical enablement is the biggest missed opportunity for CRM ROI.
“Make sure you and your team actually know best practices for the tool and how it can simplify processes and add value to their job,” she says.
Sell Your Sales Team on Adoption
If your CRM is useful to sales reps, they’ll use it. Show them how the process will help them improve their sales numbers through reliable CRM reporting.
If your CRM is easy to update, they’ll update it. Figure out which fields are absolutely necessary and automate as much as possible. This will also make CRM analytics easier and more meaningful.
If making the CRM useful and easy to update won’t do it, you can gamify process adoption.
“You buy something cheap like a 65” TV, like $500, right?” says Simon. “Make it exciting.”
ROI Begins And Ends With Your CRM
If revenue is the lifeblood of your organization, your CRM is the heart. That’s why it’s so important to optimize the way your organization is using it.
In short: Start with the right data, then keep all that data flowing with the right software integrations and team processes.
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