A Blueprint for Maximizing the Return on Your CRM Investment

drawing of a light bulb on a blueprint
By Adam Pickett

7 minutes

Ensure all sales-focused team members are using it consistently.

Does this story sound familiar?

Your organization invested in a customer relationship management software and rolled it out to the entire organization. While marketing is leveraging it to manage campaigns, your member service reps and other sales-focused team members haven’t achieved the desired adoption. In fact, most of them are not using it at all.

You are stressed because significant time, resources and money have been invested in the software. Additionally, you know everyday loan opportunities are not being tracked or properly followed up on, leading to decreased member service levels.  

If you sympathize with this example, don’t worry. You aren’t alone. This scenario has played out thousands of times across credit unions and sales teams in every industry.

The challenge is most organizations miss critical steps that can be the difference between sporadic/inconsistent usage and achieving 100% adoption of the platform.

The following are a few best practices to help your credit union understand the importance of a CRM and strategies to ensure all sales-focused team members are utilizing it consistently.

A Single Source of Truth

A CRM system is a tool that credit unions use to manage relationships and interactions with members. The platform should be the “single source of truth” for your entire organization when it comes to managing those relationships.

If a member walks into one of your branches and says, “I’m interested in purchasing a new car six months from now,” where does that information get stored, tracked and monitored to ensure the member is contacted in six months?

What if that same person walks into a different branch several months later? Will a service rep at that location be able to immediately identify that the member has said they will be interested in a vehicle loan?

Implementing and utilizing a CRM properly ensures no opportunity slips through the cracks, which ultimately results in better service and an enhanced member experience.

Different Functions for Marketing Versus Sales

They say, “all politics is local.” The same holds for a CRM. Depending on whom you talk to within your organization, you may get a very different answer to the question of “What is a CRM system?” You will most certainly hear varied responses to, “What is the purpose of the software?”

A key distinction when it comes to adoption is the difference between marketing and sales. Many understand the benefits of CRM from a marketing perspective—such as communication with members and delivering campaigns.

Unfortunately, many organizations don’t understand how crucial CRM is and the benefits it can bring to your sales team.

From managing early-stage deals and tracking production to setting follow-up tasks and capturing all notes, your sales- and service-focused employees can leverage the CRM to ensure no opportunity is ever left behind.

The Importance of a CRM to Everyone in the Organization

Whether you haven’t achieved the desired level of adoption or you’re about to roll out a new system, you must clearly communicate the “why” behind using your CRM and how it will directly benefit everyone involved.

To maximize the investment from a sales perspective, effective communication to three distinct audiences is needed: the organization as a whole, front-line producers and sales leaders.

For the organization, as we mentioned earlier, the CRM system becomes the “single source of truth” for everyone to turn to regarding a member. This is crucial to growing wallet share across lines of business and getting to know your members on a more personal level. The broader organization must be aware of the investment and commitment the credit union is making in the tool.

For individual producers, such as member service reps, mortgage loan officers and wealth management reps, “through structure comes freedom” is a key benefit that a CRM system provides. The more your team embraces the tool to manage all opportunities, the more freedom and flexibility they will have to do the things they enjoy most, such as interacting with members.

For leaders, a CRM system can be an invaluable tool to get increased visibility into individual producers’ activity and pipelines. This isn’t to micromanage. Rather, it gives leaders an opportunity to provide customized coaching to each team member based on the data.

Another important attribute is the ability to forecast production. By tracking all loan opportunities, especially early-stage/pre-application deals, leadership can ensure nothing falls through the cracks, more accurately predict what will close and have visibility into the true value of the credit union’s pipeline.

Aligning Your Sales and Service Playbook to Your CRM System

A sales and service playbook sets out the set of steps an opportunity goes through before reaching its destination. Everyone in the credit union can follow these steps. Developing a playbook drives the organization to consistency, resulting in a great service level for members.

The number of products and services your credit union offers will determine the complexity of your playbook. While the processes may be similar for an auto loan versus a credit card, there are subtle nuances that must be documented to ensure everyone is uniform in their approach. Uniformity here will lead to a consistent and enhanced member experience.

One of the biggest mistakes credit unions make is rolling out the CRM system without aligning it to their sales and service playbook (or they don’t have a playbook with which to align!). Inevitably, this leads to a lack of adoption and inconsistent usage by all team members. Implementing a CRM without a playbook is like building a house without a blueprint—no one knows where anything goes, which results in an unlivable structure.

Creating pipelines that are aligned to your playbook gives sales-focused team members the ability to see all their deals at every stage while reinforcing the processes for each product.

Driving Adoption Through a Simplistic Approach

Implementing a CRM system can be an overwhelming venture for the organization and the individual. However, if the rollout is done in a measured way with the proper structure, adoption and usage will be natural byproducts of the process.

We always recommend starting with an MVP (minimum viable product), which is a basic version of the system used to get input and feedback. Additional fields and features can be layered in over time as team members get acclimated and comfortable with the platform.
A great example of this was a larger client we worked with that spent millions on its CRM system, yet less than 10% of its sales-focused reps were actually using it. As we got a demo from the tech team, we instantly saw that more than 30 fields were required when entering a new contact. (You read that correctly: 30 fields!). Not only was most of the information unnecessary, but the process completely overwhelmed the team members who were inputting the data, hindering adoption.

Ultimately, we were able to work with leadership to pare down the required fields to just four. This made the CRM system simple to use and resulted in 100% adoption of the technology.

Embedding Your CRM into your Sales and Service Infrastructure

Another critical component to driving adoption is building a sales and service infrastructure that incorporates the CRM system. Infrastructure tactics include regular pipeline meetings, developmental one-on-one meetings focused on sales, clear production metrics and ongoing training.

If properly implemented, pipeline review meetings and structured developmental one-on-one meetings allow individuals to discuss their current pipelines with team members and leaders. This creates a sales and service culture that encourages the sharing of best practices while holding team members accountable for their production and usage of the CRM.

According to research by Neil Rackham, “87% of sales training content is forgotten within 30 days.” As a result, you shouldn’t expect a one-time session on the CRM system to be sufficient for long-term adoption. Strategic training and development should occur regularly to keep team members engaged with the platform and updated on new features.

When properly implemented and consistently used, a CRM system can be a game-changer for your credit union. It can significantly improve the sales and service culture, enhance the overall member experience, and increase production across all producers.

Adam Pickett is founder/president of Accelergy Consulting.

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