CRM Return On Investment (ROI) is a complex topic. Many organizations are simply using ROI calculations to spice up presentations and aren’t using ROI metrics as a proven, valuable and trackable metric. Technology innovation market research leaders have released a series of uses research and innovation to construct a trusted CRM ROI calculation—and their ideas really stuck with us.
So what is the return on CRM? Surprisingly, it’s a flat model. For each dollar spent on CRM, the ROI increases by $8.71 (it doesn’t matter if you’re spending $10,000 or $1,000,000 on your CRM investment). Interestingly, this model changes based on other variables:
- Average return goes up 4.2x if you use an edge CRM
- A cloud-based CRM delivers 3.2x the ROI of on-premise CRM (this number continues to go up)
So whether you are presenting to your management team to invest in the deployment of a new CRM or you want to invest in an additional CRM project–here are four tips from us for presenting CRM ROI to your leadership team:
1. Less is More
Rather than compiling a long list of all the benefits that your CRM implementation is going to deliver, focus on two or three really strong benefits. The term “less is more” rings true here. If you present more than five values, skeptics in the audience will start to wonder how much the CRM is really going to meet their expectations.
2. Direct vs. Indirect
Acknowledge the elephant in the room and plainly state which benefits and savings are direct and which are indirect. Direct savings are those that are those cost reductions that are guaranteed or expected to happen as a result of the CRM implementation. Examples of direct savings include:
- Reducing your employee headcount
- Avoiding regulatory fines
- Decreasing costs of paper usage and travel time
Indirect savings are those that are caused by an increased worker or manager productivity. Indirect benefits might include:
- Shorter sales cycle
- More accurate sales forecasting
- Less time spent on organizing and prioritizing
- Other increased performance of metrics
The reason this is important is that the believability of these factors depends on whether they are direct or indirect. Your team is more likely to believe direct factors, and by acknowledging their doubt, you can then directly address it.
3. Use Research to Predict ROI
When you can, use research to calculate your ROI. You may not be able to perform a research experiment directly within your organization–but be creative with how you define “research”. Some examples of credible research include:
- Direct observation at a pilot site
- Corporate history
- Surveys and employee interviews
- Case studies from similar companies
If these types of research are unavailable to you, we suggest you should still always do an assessment–use benchmark data, educated guesses, and vendor estimated supplies. Any analysis is better than none.
4. Use Correction Factors
As an employee at a CRM partner who has done over 1,000 implementations, and interviewed countless successful customers for case studies, I know that productivity improvements are a large source of success for many organizations using CRM systems. But, as research companies have found in their studies, everyone discounts indirect benefits such as productivity. By using a correction factor, everyone can agree on the initial benefit and then discount it to be conservative. This usually satisfies skeptics and financial managers.
This correction factor is explained by the fact that while a CRM tool does provide an employee with more time, what they do with that time is not always productive. Your correction factor is a number between 0 and 1 that you use to adjust the value of their increased productivity.
Assign a higher correction factor (.7 to .9) to people who are highly motivated to use saved time for additional work (such as sales reps and line workers). Use a lower correction factor for roles who are less likely to use saved time effectively (such as marketers). If you’re not sure, use .5 as an average and conservative measure. You can also calculate your ROI with different correction factors for sensitivity analysis into how productivity changes indirectly affect the total ROI of your project.
We’re curious to see what further innovation technology research companies bring to the industry’s thoughts on ROI. While CRM ROI calculators are plenty out there, you can reach out to our team of consultants and have your systems assessed.