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Managing Agile projects and teams used to be a nightmare.
The thing is you want the ability for your team to fluidly identify issues, adapt to project changes, and respond to ever-changing demands making life a little bit easier.
Seems like a no-brainer right? Use Agile to get better results.
So, why aren’t more people using an agile approach to CRM?
In today’s day and age, we are all so impatient and overstimulated when it comes to consumerism. We want what we want, immediately.
With this in mind, if we can apply an agile approach to our CRM, we could empower our teams to interact with the customer the way they prefer, instead of forcing them to interact in a rigid way that follows an age-old process. We could thereby reduce churn and customer dissatisfaction in the process.
If this sounds like a dream to you, stick with me because we are about to delve into a complete guide to agile CRM.
Why Agile CRM Is So Important
These days, customers are a different breed. Not many people have the patience or desire to follow through with a rigid sales process. Think about it for a minute. Do you have the patience to complete a classic checklist of questions and requirements asked by the sales team of any new product you’re exploring, just for them to give you the typical, uninspired spiel?
Or are you more likely to feel like you’re frustrated that you’ve had your time wasted? When you feel you could have learned everything the sales rep told you with a quick Google search of the company?
Most likely the latter, right?
Sure, there are some people out there who want the cookie-cutter ‘sell me’ experience. But most customers these days want to deal with real humans, who have personality and depth and can sell the crap out of the product without feeling sales-y.
And this is why we need agile CRM.
An agile methodology is an approach to project management involving incremental changes and constant adaptation. It promotes teamwork and accountability and is based on the Agile Manifesto launched in 2001 by a group of technologists. The four basic principles of agile project management are:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiations
- Responding to change over following a specific plan
Enlisting an agile methodology to your CRM will not only delight the customer but will also help your team to deliver unique, high-value experiences to every consumer. Along the way, they’ll learn how to adapt to each customer’s needs. Because in the background, they’ll have the tools and sales methodology required to meet the client’s needs without breaking a sweat.
Take Yoga International as an example. They reduced their churn rate by 20% by using HubSpot to implement a savvy customer-driven flywheel that fuels their growth and the help of their comprehensive feedback tool.
In a nutshell, Yoga International developed a process that involves connecting with new customers only 15 days after they joined their community-style website. They ask how likely it would be for you to refer a friend. If you were likely, they want to know why, and if you aren’t, they especially wanted to know why.
Enlisting an agile CRM software such as Hubspot allowed Yoga International to collect and collaborate all data in one central area, providing the basis for team members to have complete visualization over the issues and prevent the same grievances from happening again.
Without a sophisticated agile CRM process in place, how can a business collect, monitor, and act on hundreds if not thousands of critical data points? We’re talking tips to improve, straight from the customer’s mouth. If this doesn’t highlight exactly why an agile methodology is the way forward, we don’t know what will!
Quick Tips to Improve Agile CRM Today
The first things we’re going to recommend is implementing decent agile CRM software. One software in particular that continuously proves itself as the shining star of the CRM world is Hubspot.
With Hubspot, you’ll be able to take leverage every customer opportunity that comes your way. Build strong and long-lasting relationships with customers, and effectively manage your pipeline. This gives you complete visibility of your entire team and business.
In reality, there are tons of great agile CRM solutions out there, with Hubspot just one of the many options we’ve tested and reviewed. See all our top picks.
Implement a Decent CRM Software
First, get a great agile CRM software on your side. It doesn’t necessarily have to be one of the ones we mention in our top picks, but at the very least, you should use our methodology to find the best one for you.
The key thing you’re looking for in great software is that it can comprehensively document absolutely everything. We want your team to know what they’re doing, what team members are doing, and where the business is going. And most importantly, we always want the team to know where the customer is in the customer lifecycle.
Traditionally, one team member would be responsible for assisting one customer. So, when that team member has a day off or is on vacation, suddenly that customer is left to potentially fall through the cracks or left to find assistance from your competitor.
Instead, the customer’s journey will be clearly documented within your sales pipeline using agile CRM software. This allows other team members to notice that the customer is unattended and pick up at the same place. The customer doesn’t fall through the cracks, and they didn’t have to follow you up for assistance. Win-win.
Focus on Individuals and Interactions
Even the best, most comprehensive software is rendered somewhat useless without the right team in place to administer it. Sure, many processes in CRM can be automated, but it’s the human interactions that will get most prospects over the line.
When you focus on individuals and interactions, you should be focusing on the interaction between your team and your customers. But you should also focus on the relationship between your managers and team members too.
You see, for an agile methodology to work, we need to break down all communication roadblocks. Each individual needs to understand their role in the interaction and the scope of how much they can deviate from the ‘usual practice’ to satisfy the customer.
A great way to increase communication and highlight your team members’ interactions is to enlist daily stand-up meetings. This is a really popular concept in agile project management.
Essentially, you get the whole team together for 10 to 15 minutes every morning. Each team member will take one minute to explain what they did yesterday, what they’re doing today, and bring up any roadblocks standing in their way. These roadblocks could be engaging the customer, getting the customer across the line, or handling negative customer feedback.
Highlighting this information means your entire team has visibility on where you are in the customer journey. Furthermore, another team member who wouldn’t usually interact with the person having issues may be able to assist in solving the problem.
And so, we start to develop an open communication line and encourage collaborative interactions. Once we get this going throughout the team, open communication will flow smoothly through interactions with customers.
Collaboration vs. Negotiation
Something you may have noticed these days is that many software companies will provide the option to build your software plan based on only what you need, rather than what they’ve set out in their pricing plans.
This is the perfect example of collaborating with your customers rather than negotiating.
If you’re working with a traditional, rigid methodology and sticking only to what you ‘usually’ offer and that’s that, there’s a very real possibility that you’re going to lose customers in the process.
Sure, most customers will be happy to take your product ‘off the shelf.’ But there are always some that are going to want to reinvent the wheel a little.
So, instead of negotiating with the customer and convincing them to take your product exactly as it is, start collaborating with them. How can you work together to give the client what they want while staying true to your organizational strategy?
When you enlist agile CRM, you become adaptive to changes like this, and collaboration will become natural and easy to manage instead of stressful and difficult to follow.
Respond to Change
You can implement the right agile CRM software, build great connections with your team and customers, and become open to collaborating with them. But if you aren’t able and willing to respond to the changes that inevitably come with agile CRM, then you’re not going to get too far.
The organizations that are still utilizing traditional, rigid CRM methods are most likely ones that have been around for what seems like donkey’s years. Of course, they are obviously very successful to still be around.
However, let’s refer back to the point we made about customers today.
They are well-informed and impatient. They want you to collaborate with them, adapt to their needs and the market’s needs, and want you to evolve with them on their journey.
The only way you’re going to be able to do that is to become well-versed in responding to change!
That doesn’t mean that you need to throw your goals or strategies for the organization out the window. It just means that you need to become a little bit fluid and flexible when dealing with things in business, such as customers wanting to build their own software packages instead of taking the standard shelf product.
Long-Term Strategies for Agile CRM
Some will argue that you can’t plan for the long-term when you follow an agile methodology, but we’d say that’s all the more reason why you should enlist some long-term strategies and goals.
Unlike the tips we’ve given above, these strategies may take time to develop and enlist, and that’s okay. They will help you work towards ingraining agile CRM into your business model so that it’s just the way things are done.
The below list of strategies could be enlisted as a step-by-step.
Build an Agile Roadmap
Start with the big picture. Regardless of what type of methodology you’re using to run your business, you’re going to have goals.
In building your agile roadmap, you want to focus on the company’s overall strategic goals, bearing in mind that an agile methodology allows for some freedom to move around within those goals.
For example, your goal may be to increase sales by 20%. By focusing on the tips you learned above, how can you achieve this increase in the long-term?
Now, let’s think about who can tell us the most about the best way to increase our sales.
Consistently Evaluate Customer Experience
This strategy is going to be ongoing and cyclical. The ideal way to action this is to set up a similar process to what we spoke of earlier with Yoga International. You need to increase customer testing and Q&A throughout the process to monitor how customer requirements evolve over time.
When you are continuously learning directly from your customers about the best and worst parts of their experience, you’ll be able to discover a pattern and turn these patterns into workable actions.
You can’t just gain feedback from a handful of customers and hit the nail on the head. This process must be ongoing. The beauty of an agile method is that you can work on these slow burners in the background, making necessary adjustments in real-time when need be while leaving the big-ticket items for later.
Identify and Action the Big Ticket Items
Set a timeline for how long you’d like to monitor and evaluate customer experience in each iteration. At the end of each iteration, you can use the data collected to hone in on the big-ticket items.
What is the customer wanting that you’re simply not providing? Or, are you selling all the right products, but the delivery was off?
When you can match or compare these big-ticket items (recurring problems) with your organizational strategy, you’ll be able to point your business in the right direction in terms of which features to build into your process, which then helps you reach your goals.
Essentially, with every iteration of your business, as you reach and surpass goals, you’ll revisit these three strategies and adjust your agile roadmap as often as required. That’s the beauty of it. Flexibility is your friend in an agile framework.