New Year’s Resolution: Start Using CRM

Most ISVs can vouch for the fact that a normal work day is synonymous with terms like “fast-paced” and “hectic.” One reason successful companies are able to thrive in this type of environment is that they learn to work at a high level of efficiency, which entails among other things eliminating redundant business practices such as entering data into multiple applications.

I recently spoke with an ISV who shared with me — off the record (hence the anonymity) — areas of his business where manual work processes were slowing down performance and eating into profit margins. “We were using spreadsheets to manage each customer and prospect, and it was becoming very difficult and time-consuming to keep track of everything,” he shared. “In addition to lacking clarity on our new and existing business pipeline, our management team lacked several key data points during sales reviews, including which steps salespeople should be taking next to close a sale.”

Rather than continuing to be consumed with paperwork and accepting being unable to forecast revenue as reality, the ISV investigated CRM solutions that could resolve these issues. Here are a few tips he learned during the process.

Identify the Sources of Inefficient Business Activities

The ISV’s management team recognized that the company’s existing sales and project management tools were adding unnecessary steps to their day-to-day business activities. “We were using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets to manage each customer and prospect, and it was becoming very difficult and time-consuming to keep track of everything,” he says. “In addition to lacking clarity on our new and existing business pipeline, our management team lacked several key data points during sales reviews, including which steps salespeople should be taking next to close a sale.” Besides having difficulty forecasting revenue, salespeople and managers’ time was being consumed with paperwork while trying to manage individual spreadsheets.

Recognizing a need for change, the ISV began investigating CRM solutions that met the following criteria:

  • Ease of use
  • Short deployment time and learning curve
  • Ability to customize the solution
  • Post-sales support
  • Easy reporting capabilities
  • Reduce labor and provide tangible return on investment

The ISV reached out to one of its business partners for advice and was recommended to Zoho CRM, a SaaS-based solution designed to give users a 360-degree view of their sales cycle and pipeline, identify trends and opportunities, and increase efficiency while reducing costs.

During the following month, the ISV compared Zoho CRM against another CRM solution and ultimately went with its partner’s recommendation based on Zoho’s alignment with its business needs and its licensing costs, which were about 60% less than other CRM solutions.

After making its decision, the ISV worked with a value-added distributor partner to migrate data from hundreds of spreadsheets into the CRM database, a process that took about two weeks. After that, it worked with the distributor to train its employees (a two-day process) and configure and customize the CRM system.

The Right Sales Tools Yield Immediate Efficiency Gains, New Growth Benefits

Shortly after it started using the new CRM solution, the ISV noticed a dramatic improvement in its sales and business management processes. “Our management and sales staff gained clarity into our sales funnel, they were able to more quickly identify business opportunities, and they had the information they needed to know which steps to take next in the sales process,” he shared. “Our CRM allows us to capture leads from our website, track sales opportunities, manage our marketing campaigns, manage our inventory, and view reports in real time. Additionally, our license includes unlimited storage as well as a developer API that enables us to integrate with our email system.”

Another benefit of no longer having to feed data into spreadsheets, keep track of multiple spreadsheets, and manually create reminders for all sales activity, was the amount of time saved by the sales and management teams. The sales team freed up 20% of its time each week, and the management team freed up 30% of their time.

A Few Stats to Think About

As you’re thinking about investing in a CRM for your company, here are a few stats to consider:

If you are a business that is yet to adopt CRM — now is the time to get it. Also, if you only have your CRM solution via a PC or laptop, it’s time to go mobile. When evaluating your CRM software options, it’s best to give your employees the possibility to work anywhere and on the device of their choosing, which is a good reason to consider a SaaS (software as a service)-based option. 

Jay McCall

Jay McCall is an editor and journalist with 20 years of writing experience for B2B IT solution providers. Jay is co-founder of XaaS Journal and DevPro Journal.


Jay McCall is an editor and journalist with 20 years of writing experience for B2B IT solution providers. Jay is co-founder of XaaS Journal and DevPro Journal.