From Spreadsheets to CRM: Ensuring a Smooth & Successful Transition
This blog represents the first of a four part series, drawn from Maximizer’s key insights and experience, on the things Financial Advisors should consider when using a CRM to build and expand their book of business.
At the heart of the Financial Advisor business is (a) client data & history and (b) new client opportunities/leads. When it comes to expanding services for existing clients and signing new clients, the right CRM has the power to turn your “lists” into a rich, task- and relationship-driven management system that both amplifies customer care and increases sales.
Financial Advisors who are looking to a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software to build their book of business need to understand that “bad data” and an overall poor transition to CRM can stifle business operations and, ultimately, slow down sales performance. The good news is with the right implementation plan – along with the right provider – you can execute a smooth transition, be up and running quickly, and focus on what matters most – servicing clients and growing your book!
Some 32% of sales representatives spend more than an hour each day on data entry. Worse still, sales organizations lose about 550 hours a year due to insufficient or poor data quality. It is no wonder then that organizations struggle to get their reps to embrace CRM, let alone leverage it for business expansion. The first and most critical step is what we at Maximizer call a “clean” import.
“When it comes to importing data from spreadsheets, or however else advisors were keeping track of their clients and leads, I always tell them ‘garbage-in, garbage-out’,” says Brad Hartfield, Financial Advisor Solutions Manager at Maximizer . “Taking some very simple steps to really clean up your data before you move it into a CRM will have long term benefits that cannot be understated,” he explains.
For smooth sailing, run a tight ship.
Ensuring your data is properly validated, well organized, and accurately assigned before you embark on the CRM export/import journey will not only save untold headaches in the new system, but also empower you to hit the ground running and leverage your new CRM to grow your business – as you are meant to do!
- Plan ahead. Start with an inventory of the data you have. Which data is important and why? A formal implementation plan establishing the “rules” across your organization will infinitely improve continuity. Plenty of time has been spent on fixing import mix-ups because team members didn’t stick to the handbook.
- Standardize your data fields. This simply means your existing headings (in Excel, for example) must match the corresponding fields in your soon-to-be CRM. (e.g., “Birthday” equals “Birthday” instead of “B-Day”, “Policy Expiration” or “Policy Expiry” – choose one and standardize…you get the idea.)
- Define and assign ownership. Ensure clients and leads are assigned to designated reps. Multiple reps chasing a single client or family will of course cause confusion – for both reps and clients. Furthermore, all information and notes for a client should be consolidated to that client, lest different reps have different information for the same client.
- “Garbage Out.” Remove extraneous contacts. If the company courier is not a client, delete them from your list. Flesh out the details. What is B. Singh’s first name? Remove duplicates. Are B. Singh and Bobby Singh the same person? Reducing the amount of unnecessary data can also reduce costs (more on that below).
- Go beyond the basics. The goal should be to import as much insight and value as possible for each contact. In doing so, you are setting yourself up for leaps in productivity and increased sales with your new CRM. Check that all notes, documents and other important peripherals can also make the transition. And, most importantly for the Financial Advisory, does your CRM provider support “Household Structures” and will your existing information (or CSV data in tech-talk) will properly translate through the import process.
Transition Budgeting, Technical Expertise and Security – asking the right questions!
In the search phase of your CRM journey, ensure you are also asking the right questions about overall costs and available technical expertise.
- Are there any extra or associated data import costs by your new CRM supplier to transfer your data to their platform? Do they have inhouse-expertise, do they outsource this part of the onboarding? Will they do “test” imports to see if your data is lining up to your CRM fields. The cost of data import is often tied to the volume of data, and a large migration can in sometimes exceed the total cost of the CRM itself.
- What is included – or not – in your subscription? Long-gone are the days of software “installations”. The world has graduated to SaaS platforms and CRM is no different. Specifically, inquire if there are a minimum number of licenses you must purchase? Are their scaling costs with rising amounts of data storage requirements?
- Does your CRM take security as seriously as you do? Your data is your business. Whether it’s industry or government compliance, ensure your CRM provider can demonstrate they have the data security credentials you need and want.
With a successful data import into your new CRM, increased sales performance will surely follow.
Read more in our MaxTips for Financial Advisor Series: