In this post, our Business Intelligence Manager, Christian, takes us through the process of choosing the right CRM system. We have no affiliation with neither tool mentioned in the post, except for having tried them out ourselves.
Information has become the most valuable asset for many companies. Especially in the form of tangible data. Data is the very foundation of Plytix - we exist for the purpose of gathering and serving data for our customers because we believe that brands deserve as much information about their products as possible. The more information they have, the better decisions they can make, and the better experiences they can create for their customers. Therefore, it is our goal to help brands gather information about their products that used to only be accessible to the retailers.
Of course, the idea of data as the core of good decision making is not limited to the service we provide. It’s an integrated part of our entire organization and the way we work. Therefore, finding the very best CRM system was one of the first things we set out to do.
Finding the best CRM system
Once your service is ready to launch, you need to prepare for handling contacts and clients. When we launched the Plytix Analytics platform, we were already in dialogue with a rapidly growing number of companies. We started looking into different CRM systems, and we soon fell in love with Agile CRM.
The benefits of Agile CRM
The Agile CRM system had some very nice features such as IP telephony integration, an integrated e-mail system, as well as an integrated promotion- and e-mail campaign system. It also allowed us to assign specific ‘tags’ to companies, making it easy to filter a specific group of companies without making a bunch of custom fields that would need adjustment every time we wanted to add information not fitting in our template.
We began organizing all our contacts in Agile, adding tags and contact information. We developed a streamlined tagging procedure, making every company easily searchable based on characteristics such as company size, type, industry etc. This required quite a bit of work hours and continuous adjustments, but we believed it was worth the investment.
However, after having used Agile for a couple of months, little signs of mismatch started to present themselves. When we started using Agile, we fell in love with all the nice features without knowing exactly what we needed from our CRM system. But Plytix is still quite a young company, and as we mature, our needs – and not least our own insights into those needs – evolve.
Getting familiar with your sales process
As mentioned, we were born a data company and have a passion for using data in everything we do. Therefore, we wanted to quickly start collecting data from our sales pipeline and client onboarding process. This is how we keep optimizing our every move and live up to our principle of making the biggest possible impact with the smallest possible means.
Our sales process is more complex than merely reaching out to a company and maintaining a dialogue until they sign up. First we need to attract the attention of the company decision makers, then we have to demonstrate how the Plytix platform works and how exactly the particular brand or retailer can benefit from using it. And then they sign up - but the sales process doesn’t stop there. A sale isn’t successful until the client is up and running. Therefore, we wanted to track the entire onboarding process in our CRM, which required measuring several pipelines for each company.
Therefore, we wanted to track the entire onboarding process in our CRM, which required measuring several pipelines for each company. Hence, the data collection and registration instantly became much more complex than first anticipated. This was just the first limitation we discovered in Agile. We had set up the system so that everything we measured was based on Agile’s handy tagging method. The big problem was that we were unable to export data along with the tags and dates for when the tags were added. That meant we couldn’t get the detailed information we wanted. We needed to find a new CRM system.
Finding the right CRM system
For the second time within a few months, we were out shopping for a CRM system. This time, we took a very different approach. Instead of going for a system with lots of nice features, we focused on finding a system suited for the specific needs we’d discovered along the way.
We knew we needed a system that allowed us to track events in all parts of the sales funnel. For example, we wanted to track how many e-mails were sent, how many meetings were held, and when in the sales process this happened. Basically registering the accurate number of activities and the time spent per activity, as well as who conducted the different actions.
Breaking up the data in separate sub-processes rather than having a single pipeline would allow us to calculate our cost per acquisition (CPA) with great accuracy. That way we’d be able to predict the CPA for companies of a specific size in a specific market and industry – knowledge we could then use to ensure we spent our resources in the right place. Again, this goes hand-in-hand with one of our core principles: Eat like a bird, poo like an elephant.
Our choice fell on Pipedrive. At first glance, Pipedrive has nowhere near the same amount of features as Agile. No telephony integration and no integrated e-mail/promotion campaign system. But in some ways, it surpassed many of the other systems we have looked at.
The benefits of Pipedrive
In Pipedrive, you can customize just about everything, ranging from which information you want about the companies to the number of sales funnels. This means you can easily gather data about all parts of our sales funnel, regardless of whether several people have been working with the client. This enables you to answer the question of how much time and effort is put into the different parts of the process.
Not only does Pipedrive excel in the level of detail of the data we can register in the system. It also allows us to export all the data in the system so that we can create customized reports with the exact data we want. It might sound like this requires a lot of registration and logging data - which would be a terrible waste of resources! But thanks to the nice design in Pipedrive, users can simply drag and drop clients to the different parts of the funnels. The system automatically logs when this is done. It is very easy and feels rewarding when you “physically” move a client through the funnel!
The same goes for e-mails, which are integrated with the system. E-mails are automatically connected to the funnel that the company is situated in when it happens. The only manual registration users need to do is to keep their calendars updated, allowing the same accurate registration of meetings, phone calls etc.
What we learned about CRM systems
After a bumpy road with a few detours, we now have a CRM system that can do exactly what we want. It enables us to gather very detailed data about our sales- and onboarding process with minimal input from the users.
The lesson we learned going through this process was: Always make sure to choose the CRM system that is best suited for your needs, even though other systems might appear to be better at first glance.
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