How to Make Your CRM Blossom at Every Stage


Our research shows advisors are just “meh” when it comes to their CRM.

In fact, 91% of our survey participants rated their CRM an “8 out of 10” or less.

Now, here’s the good news! You can build a tool that performs for your firm and increases your CRM satisfaction. To start, picture your CRM as a seed. This seed needs sun (money) and water (training) to grow into a healthy plant.

Chances are, you’re dealing with a lack of one or both of those elements. Not to worry, we identified four main stages of advisors’ CRM journeys:

Within each stage, we address advisors’ most-asked questions, providing best practices to help you grow your CRM into something nice. Select the stage that mirrors your unique situation and find the best practices that will guide you through improving your CRM experience from start to finish:

Q: Where do I start to get the best results?
A: Define what you need in a basic CRM functionality by first interviewing representatives across the firm from advisors, marketing, operations, compliance and management. Have a strong understanding of what you want before you begin!
Q: What questions do I ask my team?
A: Gather their needs in Core Capabilities (‘What are our critical processes?’), Workflow Automation (‘Where do we spend too much manual effort?’), Marketing (‘How do we want to engage with clients and prospects?’), Reporting (‘How do we want to tell our story?’), Integrations (‘What tools, data and workflows should be done together?’) and Other Considerations and compare the results with the capabilities of the available CRM products in order to select vendors to demo.
Q: Should a CRM focus on marketing and sales or cover a broad array of firm needs from onboarding to compliance?
A: It depends on how you want to leverage the front-end team. Understanding how your firm operates will help you drill down to the type of CRM product you need and how you will measure its success.
Q: Will a CRM grow with the firm?
A: Yes, through the potential integrations of the CRM you choose.  Many firms neglect the future-state strategy and are disappointed when their vendor or configuration cannot accommodate their objectives. (See more in “Implemented: Need to Expand Capabilities)
Q: What’s the best way to tackle the CRM implementation to be successful?
A: Know what you are getting into before you get into it. We cannot stress this enough. Talk about this with peers. Ask for references. Learn from those that came before you. Also, don’t let perfection get in the way of implementation—there will always be something that can function better. Over-analysis, especially in the early stages, leads to expensive re-working. The best designs and integrations often come from using the tool for a few months first.
Q: Is it worth it to hire outside consultants for effective configuration?
A: Some configuration consultants can take you on a detailed process where you map out the journey, identify KPIs and define a scope. It can be very effective, but also expensive so it depends on your ability to invest in the implementation. Their support and process will also only be as good as your level of self-awareness and vision of what you want. If you do choose a consultant, they must understand your specific business needs if you want to get the right results for your firm. In many cases, a pre-packaged and configured version is the smart choice.
Implemented: Doesn’t Meet Expectations
Q: Why aren’t we getting as much value from our CRM as we thought we would when we bought it?
A: First, think of your CRM implementation as a Netflix series and not a stand-alone movie. It’s up to you to define those future episodes and derive value over the long term. Second, a prerequisite for results is good data, so make sure your data isn’t the underlying issue. We also recommend considering whether you want your CRM to be a source of data or a recipient of data. One of those paths will give you more options in the future.
Q: How do I improve user adoption at my firm?
A: There are a number of ways. First involve team members in the pre-implementation phase to make them feel like they are contributing to the process. The more they see their direction and insights being put into action, the more likely they are to feel ownership and commitment to its success. Second, create advisory boards that can provide ongoing feedback and prioritize changes. Third, set up a channel to communicate the fixes that you’ve made.
Q: What can I do to really make our CRM investment a success?
A: Accountability is critical: If it’s true that ‘success has a thousand fathers’, most CRMs we see are orphans. Name a CRM owner and several influential internal advocates. For the owner, managing the CRM should be part of their performance goals. They would manage the process of sharing best practices, gathering feedback, prioritizing fixes and reporting back as well as curating training materials. The internal advocates would help to fuel a mentality of “if it’s not in theCRM, it didn’t happen.”
Q: Will enhanced training improve my CRM?
A: Ongoing training is key. No two CRMs are the same. Just because someone used a particular CRM at their last job doesn’t mean they will know how to use your firm’s CRM. Equally important is to provide training in different forms from one-to-two-page user guides to videos to other methods. Not everyone can teach themselves and not everyone attends sessions so you must provide a variety of tools that appeal to everyone. Lastly: Track training participation. Frustrated users often do not attend the training. It helps to let everyone know it’s important and being monitored!
Implemented: Need to Expand Capabilities
Q: I need more from my CRM, can I just add to what I’ve got?
A: If you selected a CRM with integrations that support your firms’ needs, you can usually build upon what you have. For example, you can plug in financial planning or digital marketing integrations to create a powerful hub. If not, it may be time to re-trench and consider the broader options. In some cases, it’s less costly and faster to start over again with the right toolset than to continue throwing good money at bad.
Q: What integrations would be worthwhile for improving efficiency at my firm?
A: Through integrations your CRM can enhance your forms management process (use the data on your prospects and clients as the starting point) and your business support services using voice transcription or virtual assistants. Ultimately, your focus on integration, automation and expanded capabilities should be aligned with areas which help you achieve your goals. If you find yourself spending time and money on areas which do not measurably address this, it’s time to stop and re-chart a new course.