Some companies spend big bucks on CRM software thinking it will make a huge difference on their ROI. But getting those big returns only happen if the CRM is effectively utilized by your team. Chances are, you aren’t seeing the results you expected because you aren’t maximizing your CRM in the first place.

After adopting a CRM and failing to see results, many companies wonder, “How can we improve our usage of our CRM software?” See the results you want (and then some) by using the following tips to step up your CRM usage across the board, from customization to employee training.

crm softwareTrain Your Employees

First and foremost, you’ve got to train your employees. If they don’t know how to use the software or don’t use it correctly because they fail to see its full value, you’ll never actualize a significant return on investment. Start by training those who have to use the CRM regularly as well as those who want to learn how to use it. It’s also a good idea to schedule regular trainings where new people can learn how to use it and others can receive updated information, new tricks, and improved tools. In fact, according to one study, 42 percent of Salesforce users are willing to pay for their employees to become Salesforce certified. This just goes to show how important training and certification are to the smooth adoption and implementation of a CRM. Once employees are trained, you might also dangle a carrot by telling your sales team they will only receive bonuses or commissions if clients (and all of their relevant information) is in the system.

crm-trainingWhat’s most important is that the CRM is easy to use. No one wants to use something on a regular basis that’s hard to use. When you design the CRM, do so with the end user in mind. And keep in mind that not all end users have the same tasks or use the CRM for the same reason. There should be clear, concise headings, logical drop down flows, and easy-to-navigate menus. If security is a concern for you, you can assign role-based levels of security so only people who need to see certain fields can. Even if security isn’t an issue, this can be helpful to prevent people from making unnecessary changes or mistakes in an area where they shouldn’t be.

Start Tracking Customer Behavior Before Making the Call

Unless you’re a brand new company, when you adopt a CRM, you’ll already have a number of clients at different parts of the sales cycle and that’s fine. However, when you are attempting to recruit new clients, it’s important to start tracking them before you even make the sale. Before ever making a call, get as much information as you can on your prospect. You should be tracking what content they share across social platforms, how often they share, who they share it with, etc. Not only will this help you when actually making the sale, this will also help you better understand what resonates with them and why, meaning you’ll be able to better predict their future needs and plan accordingly.

Once you start tracking your customers, don’t stop. One of the best things about using a CRM is the ability to not just provide a great customer experience, which is quickly becoming the number one differentiator between you and the competition, it helps you foster stronger customer relationships. CRMs help you be proactive in your relationships. Use the software to send birthday cards to customers or friendly reminders. You can reach out to customers who have left you a rave review or tweeted something positive about your business to all your followers.

It’s also important to address negative feedback and poor customer experiences, but taking a minute to show you care will help your business develop a loyal and happy customer base, which in turn means increased profits.

Never Stop Improving

There is always room for improvement. Listen to what your employees have to say about your current CRM, both the good and the bad, and then do what you can to make it better. It’s also important to make it easy for users to comment on and share their feedback. But remember, if you ask for feedback, be prepared to take action. If you look at your CRM and wonder if you really need to improve, ask yourself if you’re utilizing features like social media integration, workflow management, mobile access, division segmentation, quote management, dialing capabilities, file sharing, and live chat. If you answered “no” to any of those, start there.

Learn more about the pros and cons of different CRMs on the market by checking out this article from iamwire that provides in-depth reviews of some of the most popular software available including Salesforce, NetSuit CRM Plus, OnContact, SalesNexus, and Act CRM.