Why CRM ROI Is So Hard to Maximize and What to Do About It

By Mark Engelberg, TimeLinx –

Undoubtedly, a CRM system can easily unlock the perks of converting client interactions into sales opportunities and top-line revenues — nobody debates that.

The trouble is the expectation and promise such platforms create. Today, it’s easy to convince company buyers that such systems are worth the investment because they’re not a new concept. And they work. But that’s only half of the story.

Organizations that buy into the dream unprepared, expecting automated outcomes out-of-the-box, can face disappointment when ROI fails to materialize—license bloat, low adoption, and additional new costs from the need to ‘make it work’ all move the ROI goalposts further and further downfield.

What can organizations—professional service organizations in particular—learn from the collective challenges that face many businesses in chasing an elusive ROI?

One of the Biggest Challenges to ROI:

When introduced to any new software with a broad range of functionality, the teams and departments tasked with using it quickly niche into the functions and features that serve their individual or departmental purposes:

Sales teams: niche into leads, contact records, and sales opportunities
Sales managers: Niche into KPI dashboards for sales oversight and analysis

Marketing execs: niche into lead-capture forms, email automation
Marketing managers: niche into data segmentation and metrics views

Delivery and support teams: niche into cases, projects, tasks, and client narratives
Project managers: niche into schedules, cost views, and Gannt charts

What’s the net impact of all of this system ‘niching’? It’s data and communication compartmentalization. And that’s the larger problem.

Because sales and services workflows consist of multiple specialties, each trying to add value at different stages, different workflows become insulated and selfish almost by design.

The implementation arm of a technology company is traditionally called the professional service organization, or PSO. They are responsible for creating, growing, and sustaining positive client relationships. They are the make or break in turning prospects into happy clients. But sadly, what I’ve detailed above is how just a single isolated sales workflow might be responsible for funneling the new prospect through the CRM system into a PSM system. So this isn’t a critique of either PSOs, PSO teams, or the CRM system. It’s simply a structural consequence of the value model PSOs typically operate in.

Viewing CRM ROI In a New Context

PSOs can progress towards overcoming the challenge of CRM ROI by zooming out and surveying the systems architecture that connects project value to clients from the moment of sales opportunity quoting to project invoicing.

What data makes it out of the CRM into the latter stages? How well does your CRM communicate with other platforms around it in the value chain?

PSOs must view CRM in the context of the broader systems ecosystem

Instead of settling for a CRM system that fulfills only the ‘market-quote-sell’ sales and marketing functions, PSOs must find ways to empower their CRM platform to become a critical interface that captures end-to-end project and service data.

To achieve this, PSOs must identify if and where the CRM is struggling to write a project and service narrative that captures every detail of the project story’s value — for example, maximizing the utilization of expensive field-service personnel or critical time-keeping data.

Empowering Your CRM Data and Teams for Greater CRM ROI

Simply unboxing your CRM and switching the lights on means you’re instantly limiting its potential to add value.

To facilitate ROI and help the CRM do more, PSOs can bring in peripheral tools that significantly enhance the CRM platform’s role—for example, by using a PSM platform to connect the CRM into end-to-end project and service dataflows.

PSM platforms are your CRM ROI’s best friend

Project and service management platforms provide PSOs with the missing link for helping their CRMs fire on all cylinders to bring healthier returns on investment.

TimeLinx Project and Service Management (PSM) for Sage and Infor CRMs, for example, extend services functionality into the CRM and throughout the entire customer life cycle.

TimeLinx’s powerful tools become native functions of your CRM—allowing project managers to control project resources, cases, schedules, costs, billings, expenses, tasks, contracts, retainers, tickets, and more, right from within the CRM itself.

The effect is a CRM environment without data silos, better geared to create a single point of entry for profit and loss metrics like labor costs and expenses. For clients, that means more effective service delivery. For PSOs, that means a CRM that can actually pull its weight for improved ROI.

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About TimeLinx
TimeLinx delivers innovative project & service management software as a complete solution that perfects the sell-track-manage-support-bill cycle that services organizations must have to delight their customers; TimeLinx brings the cycle together in a single application that offers less frustration, better project management, complete reporting, and improved profitability – all specially designed for Infor and Sage.