Hidden in Plain Sight: 3 CRM Analytics Pearls

CRM technology is all about collecting data — which means it should go hand-in-hand with the trend toward increased use of analytics. Often, though, what is analyzed is not what’s important.

In CRM, many of the most useful and most compelling data are hiding in plain sight, but businesses are looking elsewhere, toward measurements of sales and marketing effectiveness that mirror traditional metrics of success.

These hidden measurements are contained within CRM, and they can be accessed without expensive analytics tools in most cases, but they’re overlooked. It’s as if a fishing boat captain’s nets haul in a record harvest — but then he keeps it stowed in the hold of his boat.

These hidden areas for analytics differ from one business to another — and the secret to success with analytics is understanding what measurements are valuable for your business. However, some are universal. Following are three metrics that fall into that category. They’re easy to access, and they can have dramatic effects on sales processes and the ways your company uses CRM.

1. How Does Your Company Use CRM?

Included in most CRM applications are tools to analyze CRM usage within your business. They can pinpoint the frequency and completeness of the usage of CRM by different people in the organization.

Why is this important? It can give you a view of just how deep adoption goes, and it can give you the ability to correlate CRM usage with sales success. Arming yourself with that information gives you a great tool to promote greater adoption within your business.

It’s also a terrific tool for spotting other issues. CRM adoption failure is often the result of a leadership problem; using these analytics may reveal that sales people within a certain division or department use CRM less, which implies that their manager is not enthusiastically encouraging them to use it.

The great thing about all analysis is not just the data that’s provided in a one-time snapshot — it’s the view over time of how metrics change in response to adjustments. Internal CRM analytics can both show the crisis areas and illuminate how addressing those changes impacts the business.

2. What Did Your Failed Sales Have in Common?

Sales pros love to dig into the customer records associated with their wins to spot things that work. Understanding the “secret weapons” that sales and marketing brought to bear in the process of winning a deal is a great idea, especially when managers can share those tactics with other sales people and marketers in the organization.

However, there’s a myth that all failed deals died for their own distinct reasons: Prospects were better fits for competitors; prospects weren’t ready to buy; prospects weren’t sure what they wanted. There’s not a lot of analysis of how the seller’s tactics may have worked against the sale unless that failure is so spectacular that it can’t be overlooked.

Conducting a post-mortem on the customer records of prospects that didn’t close can work in the same way as delving into the records of closed customers. If you associate something you’re doing with your prospects’ terminating the sales process — assigning a specific sales person, providing a certain piece of content marketing, providing a demo or a presentation — then you can work to eliminate or modify what may be the problem.

3. How Does Communication Influence Loyalty?

Modern CRM applications can include records of all manner of communications with customers — marketing outreach, social media discussions, support efforts and so on. The common view on this communication is that the more contact a buyer has with a seller — and the more effective the seller is during this communication — the more loyal the customer will be.

That’s the common view, and it assumes that the business is communicating effectively — but how do you know if your communication is effective?

The customer record can reveal the quantity and general nature of customer communications. Comparing these general numbers against the rate of renewals in subscription settings, or against the rate of return customers in other settings, can quickly point out whether communication is resulting in the desired effect.

If it’s not, it’s an alarm bell that should spur you to reevaluate how you’re interacting with your customers. You can dig deeper by isolating each channel of communication to pinpoint the areas where improvement will have the greatest impact.

These are just three simple ways that expanding your examination of the data you’re already collecting can help you boost sales and drive more value from your CRM investment. As with so much of CRM, the value is there waiting to be tapped — hiding in plain sight — but you won’t see it unless you’re on the lookout.

CRM Buyer columnist Chris Bucholtz is director of content marketing at Relayware. Bucholtz is also a speaker, writer and consultant on topics surrounding buyer-seller relationships. He has been a technology journalist for 17 years and has immersed himself in the world of CRM since 2006. When he's not wearing his business and technology geek hat, he's wearing his airplane geek hat; he's written three books on World War II aviation.

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