4 Reasons Why a CRM Will Pay for Itself

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By: Brent Shively | 5.14.15

If you’ve ever had to frantically search through spreadsheets or five different programs on your computer to find contact information or organizational data, you know how frustrating and time-consuming data management can be.  

Wouldn’t your staff’s time and energy be better spent on strengthening customer relationships and improving internal processes? A CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, system helps achieve exactly that by allowing your company to manage customers, donors and vendors, and track business operations and performance.

While implementing a CRM system is no small investment, the ROI is significant.  Here’s why:

  1. It’s Comprehensive (Consolidated Tracking)

In addition to being a little rough on the eyes, there is one major constraint of using spreadsheets: they are rarely as dynamic as you need them to be. Your organization may have near limitless spreadsheets of data lying around in hard drives, inboxes, and possibly even printed out in filing cabinets! While all of this data is technically being tracked and stored, it isn’t consolidated and thus is of little use evaluating your organization’s growth.

This is where a CRM can be an invaluable tool. With a tool like Salesforce (and integrated applications), you are able to manage and access all of your organization’s data in one central location.  If one department needs to be able to leverage data from another, they are able to easily access and locate the data they need without taking away the other department’s time. For example, in the nonprofit world development and programs staff often operate independently, but when development staff can easily see the impact of programs, they will have more proof points to show new donor prospects.

  1. It’s Personal (Personalized Constituency Tracking)

“Where do I know that person from?” This is a question that should almost never come up if you are actively using a CRM system. With a CRM, you are able to track your organization’s history of engagement with particular individuals, and based on that history, you can make informed decisions about how to best communicate with them in the future.

Beyond the individual level, a CRM also facilitates the ability for you to engage with your constituency on a group level and the ability to segment your audience based on any number of parameters. For example, do you want to reach out to everyone you met at a particular conference that lives in the Northwest? Or what about only contact previous donors who contributed more than a certain amount? A CRM system can simplify that process for you.

  1. It’s Intelligent (Depth of Reporting Capabilities)

One of the largest value-added components of a CRM is the ability to see how your organization is changing over time, based on the data that your staff have been dutifully entering. The majority of CRM systems allow for reporting on varying scales. Being able to develop reports and dashboards will let you clearly gauge the health of your organization and decide how to best allocate resources to encourage growth and expansion.

Reporting resonates well across every level of an organization, and it allows the organization’s leadership to understand the current state of affairs (and how to provide recognition and encouragement to those employees making the most impact). While the depth of reporting varies between CRM systems, there lies enormous value in being able to easily create reports without needing to cross check against multiple spreadsheets.

  1. It’s Alive (Potential for Automation and Increase in Process Efficiency)

Within organizations and companies, there typically exists a love/hate relationship -- typically leaning towards the latter -- between the CRM system and its users. Users are excited at the prospect of seeing the fruits of their labor displayed in reports and dashboards, but they typically don’t have enough time to regularly input all of their data.

Fortunately, there have been huge advances in CRM systems to the point where a large amount of the data entry process can be automated, creating an opportunity for greatly increasing the effectiveness of your employees. The potential for automation is fairly expansive. It could be a general interest form on your website that, upon being filled out by the end user, simultaneously transfers his/her  information to your CRM, while sending an email directly to the individual to thank him/her for showing an interest in your organization.

If this process occurred manually, it would involve multiple emails back and forth and would require entering data information into a spreadsheet that could quickly extend into a list rivaling Santa’s. User adoption will inevitably increase when you have more automated processes in place.

Ready to start putting together a budget for your CRM? Download our whitepaper on creating a CRM budget for advice on strategy, budgeting, and pitching it all to your team. 

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