Chapter 1: The Foundation Modules – Understanding the Building Blocks of Success
Building a successful Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is a journey. Before you begin, you must decide on a destination by defining your why. In this chapter, you will learn how to define your why, and you will also come to understand how to measure the success of your new CRM system. Furthermore, you will learn about the foundation modules of Zoho, understanding the purpose of each module and how they relate to each other.
Combining your why with a solid foundation will provide you with excellent building blocks to success. In doing so, you will be defining your destination, your expectation when you get there, and a clear route plan of how you are going to get there. These are all prerequisites of a successful CRM journey.
In this chapter, we will cover these topics:
- Exploring the need for a new CRM system
- Understanding why CRM is more than just a sales and marketing tool
- Defining key objectives and measures of success
- Introducing the foundation modules—Leads, Deals, Accounts, and Contacts
Exploring the need for a new CRM system
Before you begin to design and build your CRM, you need to understand why you are doing this. Understanding your reasoning and the need for a new CRM can help you make sure you prioritize the new system effectively to remove pain points and set clear goals. Consider some of the following reasons:
- Your sales team does not have a clear, well-defined process for generating new business.
- Your business is experiencing growth, and you need this growth to be scalable and more profitable.
- You have identified the need to improve how customer data is collected, managed, and used within your business.
- The sales team is missing out on opportunities from existing customers through not nurturing or following up with them enough.
- You have customer data in several different places and are using multiple systems that do not integrate with each other.
- You realize that your current CRM system is out of date or no longer fit for purpose.
You may be able to identify with more than one of the aforementioned reasons. Once you truly understand why you need a CRM system, we can begin to think about the next steps.
List the reasons because of which you/your team have decided that a new CRM is needed for your business. Doing so will provide a reference for later when it comes to defining success measures and also seeking buy-in from colleagues.
Now that you have identified a few reasons for change, it is also useful to consider how a CRM may also be of benefit to other areas of your business.
Understanding why CRM is more than just a sales and marketing tool
Traditionally, the importance of CRM has been as a sales and marketing tool. However, some of the biggest gains for your business can come from other areas, such as operations, customer service, supplier management, and partner relationships. Listed next are some key business functions and how each one can benefit from a CRM system.
The marketing team will be able to segment prospects and customers and have visibility of every lead and deal—mapping out the journey from lead to sale. This will provide a clear understanding of the effectiveness of all marketing activities and help to measure the return on investment (ROI) by tracking leads and deals generated from each event or campaign.
Sales managers will understand their pipeline much better and be able to forecast sales more accurately. The sales team will benefit from reduced admin, a better understanding of their clients, and the opportunity to spend more time selling and less time inputting data.
A customer might raise an issue via one channel such as Twitter or Facebook, but customer service may switch to email, phone, or live chat to resolve the matter. By pulling together the communication from multiple channels into a single platform, we provide the customer service team with all the information they need to resolve the query. We can ensure that whoever is speaking to the customer has access to the current status, next action, and notes, which will make the customer feel valued and well looked after.
Customer success/account management
Having visibility of support requests, deals, and all communications history will enable the account manager to review all the information they need prior to making a call or visit to an existing customer. They will be prompted when the next call to each client is due and provided with structure to make sure they ask the right questions to measure customer happiness and retention and to identify opportunities to upsell or cross-sell related products and services.
We should also consider integrating the CRM with our accounting/invoicing software so that these processes may be streamlined and automated further.
Supplier management and partner relationships
Follow-ups can easily be created, and reporting enables a comparison of the efficiency of suppliers and also the success and activity of partners.
This inclusion of other business areas will help you deliver more value with the CRM, improve internal communication, and increase buy-in from the respective stakeholders.
Defining key objectives and measures of success
Now you have a detailed understanding of the business-wide drivers for change, it is time to set some objectives. This is often best achieved by defining specific ways in which you will measure the success of your new CRM system.
Examples of success measures include the following:
- To increase the conversion rate of lead to deal by 50% within 3 months
- To have the ability to measure our ROI on marketing
- To know how many times per year we have communicated with existing clients
- To have visibility of how many/which products each of our clients has
- All quotes, orders, and jobs paperwork will be replaced with electronic documentation
- Our operations team will be reminded when every service is due in advance so this can be scheduled and completed on time
- To increase first-year retention of members from 40% (current level) to 60% within 2 years
- To have the ability to measure where leads have come from
- To have the ability to measure conversion rates (from inquiry to customer)
- To provide the sales management team with complete visibility of the pipeline
- To provide senior management with a weighted forecast of the pipeline
- To have the ability to break down sales performance by territory/area and target areas for improvement
- To replace several spreadsheets and Outlook contact directories that are currently used in the business with a single central database accessible by all the team
Write down at least five specific ways in which you will measure the success of your new CRM system. This will help you to prove when your goals have been met.
Introducing the foundation modules – Leads, Deals, Accounts, and Contacts
Firstly, let's consider the foundation modules and understand why they are named as such. When designing and building any structure such as a house, extension, or other building, it is critical that we include solid foundations to build upon. Failure to do this results in a structure that will not be fit for purpose or one that will not be long-standing.
The same is true of a CRM system and Zoho. We have four foundation modules, listed as follows:
In this section, we will discuss each of these modules, explaining the difference between them and the importance of using these modules correctly. Not knowing the difference between these modules is actually one of the biggest mistakes new users make—this often leads to building a system in the wrong way, meaning that for some, they may never truly realize the full potential that Zoho has to offer their business.
Let's start by looking at Leads.
In short, the information we need to record in the Leads module is who, what, how, and why they have contacted us/we have contacted them, which can be detailed as follows:
- Who: The contact name and name of the organization (if business-to-business, or B2B)
- What: The nature of their inquiry; which product(s) or service(s) they are interested in
- How: The method by which they have contacted us—such as by phone or email; through the company website; via social media; referral
- Why: For what reason have they contacted us and made this inquiry
Once we have recorded the key data as per the preceding outline, the next important question to consider is: How do we qualify a lead?
While this varies from business to business and sector to sector, there are a few lead qualification methodologies/tools that can and should be applied—for example, BANT (Budget, Authority, Needs, and Timeline), SCOTSMAN (Solution, Competition, Only Me, Timebound, Size, Money, Authority, Need), or CHAMP (Challenges, Authority, Money, and Prioritization). To help decide which one will be a good fit for your business, a useful blog on this subject can be found here: https://contactbase.net/sales-qualification-frameworks/.
Once you have selected or adapted one that is a good fit for your business, then it is very useful to include fields that prompt our sales team with the best qualification questions to ask in our Leads module.
In Chapter 2, Leads – Getting It Right the First Time, you will learn how to add fields to capture all of the information discussed so far. So, let's now consider what happens once a lead has been received and recorded.
Capturing where the lead came from will provide us with the ability to understand which lead-generation activities generate the most leads, and of these leads, which generate the most revenue. Acting on these insights will have a significant positive financial implication on your bottom line. See Chapter 15, Building Actionable Reports and Dashboards (CRM), for further details on this.
Following up on leads
Once a lead is received and key information recorded, it is important to have a simple, clear, and well-defined follow-up process in place for you and the team to follow. The following table describes a typical process to consider:
As the Leads module is the starting point of our CRM journey for our new customers, it is also the first impression our users will have upon using the CRM itself. It is therefore very important that we consider that the user experience (UX) in this module will help define how they perceive and subsequently use the system in later modules. In short, creating a great first impression with users in the Leads module will have a significant impact on how well they use the CRM overall.
Once we have successfully qualified our lead, it is time to look at what happens next in deals.
A deal is a qualified lead. If deal is not the correct term for you, don't worry—you can easily rename this to suit. Indeed, many users change this to potentials, opportunities, or whatever fits best within their business.
A useful glossary provided by Zoho can be found at https://help.zoho.com/portal/en/kb/crm/getting-started/articles/understand-crm-account#Key_CRM_Terminologies.
Deals can be defined as the business deals that generate revenue for your organization with other organizations (B2B) or with people (business-to-consumer, or B2C). A deal evolves through different sales stages such as Qualified, Discovery, Quote, and so on, before it is actually a deal, lost or won. Leads can be directly converted to opportunities that represent a potential sale.
The Deals module encapsulates your sales process. It will provide you and your team with the ability to view how many deals are in the pipeline, which stage each one is at, and what the potential value is. It also allows a sales manager to prepare an accurate revenue forecast.
Quite simply, when built and used correctly, this module transforms businesses and can provide an incredible platform for them to grow.
In Chapter 3, Deals – Sales Funnels to Fuel Your Business Growth, you will learn how to build your Deals module. However, before you do, it is important to define what the sales stages are that the sales team must go through in order to convert each deal into a sale in your business. Here are some sample sales stages:
In Figure 1.2, we can see that our process has a distinct beginning, middle, and end. It avoids jargon and abbreviations and as a result, it should be simple and intuitive to follow. When defining your stages, ask yourself: Would a new starter in my business understand when to apply each stage and what to do? If the answer is Yes, then your process is intuitive.
List the stages that, when followed, will provide the most effective way to process a potential deal until it is closed won or closed lost within your business. Validate this with other sales managers or leaders in the organization to obtain early buy-in from these key stakeholders and influencers.
When converting a lead in Zoho, it will create a record in the Accounts module.
This module will contain all of the organizational details that are needed for us to secure, retain, and service their business. The data recorded here will give us greater capability when it comes to reporting and gaining a deeper understanding of the demographics and traits of our customers.
How you create, manage, and use this module will have a significant impact on the success of your CRM. An Accounts module managed well will provide your business with the basis of accurate and insightful reporting. This will help you to fully understand not just what is happening right now, but the trends and progress being made to assist with the predictions and planning of future growth. In Chapter 4, Accounts and Contacts – The Beating Heart of Your CRM, you will learn how to set up this module effectively.
Contacts are the people within the companies with which you have business dealings.
It is quite common and often recommended that these contacts also include suppliers, partners, referral partners, and other types of contacts with which you need to build and maintain relationships.
How you create, maintain, and use the Contacts module will have a huge impact on how successful communication with your contacts will be. Successful communication helps to build trust, and increased trust builds stronger relationships. Stronger relationships help your business to grow, and this growth will be more sustainable. Learn how to best set up your Contacts module in Chapter 4, Accounts and Contacts – The Beating Heart of Your CRM.
The relationship between Accounts and Contacts in Zoho is one-to-many. Within one account (company) you may be dealing with several contacts (people), all of which will have their own record in Zoho. The benefit of this is that we can plan and track communication individually yet still have a summarized view within the Accounts record.
Having learned about each of the foundation modules individually, it's time to summarize them.
Recapping on the foundation modules
The general rule that is applied here is that when a lead is Qualified, it is converted into three records: Accounts, Contacts, and Deals.
With this knowledge and by setting our modules up to follow this process, everything should click into place, and we will understand how we can design our system in a way that gets the most out of the structure and functionality of Zoho CRM.
It is worth noting that new users sometimes challenge the difference between a lead and a deal. Why not just use one module and have it all in the Deals module? This is not an uncommon question.
The answer to this lies in the fact that not all inquiries will ever be qualified and, as it is only the Qualified leads that will turn into actual business deals and generate revenue,it is critical that we measure the number of leads that do/do not qualify and also make sure that our sales team are focusing their efforts in the right places (such as qualified ones).Quite often in businesses with a sales team, we find that one part of the team will be following up on inquiries, qualifying them, and booking appointments for one of the senior members of the sales team or the field sales representatives. Thus, splitting unqualified and qualified into two separate modules in Zoho lends itself perfectly to this process and division of labor and activity.
The second benefit of this approach is that we are not populating our Accounts and Contacts modules with lots of unqualified leads that will never progress, which in turn helps maintain the integrity and also the value of our database.
In Chapter 2, Leads – Getting It Right the First Time, we will explore the Leads module in a lot more detail; however, for now, it is useful to digest and understand that for most of our new business inquiries, this is the way we will process them in Zoho using the four foundation modules.
You should now understand and have listed the reasons why you need a CRM system and be aware of the key drivers for change. You will have considered the needs of the business as a whole, and not just sales and marketing.
This will have enabled you to set clear objectives for the CRM and you will have defined some key measures of success for you and your team to aim for.
You have also learned about the four foundation modules of Zoho CRM, a definition and the function of each one, and how they relate to each other.
Now the building blocks of success have been laid, you are ready to progress. In the next chapter, you will learn how to set up the first foundation module: Leads.