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How to Realize the True Value of Your CRM [Part One]

June 14, 2018

This is part one of a two-part blog series. Part one explores user adoption strategies and how issues surrounding data can impact the value of your CRM system. Part two discusses the importance of an organization’s culture and employing data analytics for continual ROI improvement.

By now, most of us have heard about the potential that data has to change the world. The amount of data being stored is growing exponentially, and we’ve seen some amazing applications of this, from health care providers accurately diagnosing and treating patients using big data, to financial institutions leveraging it to pinpoint and stop fraudulent transactions in fractions of a second.

However, when it comes to data and customer relationship management (CRM) in the enterprise, the outcomes are not nearly as impressive. The more conservative the industry, the more accurate this statement is.

CRM systems at large financial services firms, for example, are almost never used to their full potential. While the executives at these firms know they need a CRM system, it’s almost always underused, if not outright ignored, because of the manual and tedious data entry needed from the advisor, and the lack of clean, consistent data in the system. For sales and distribution, marketing, and compliance leaders, the lack of insight into advisor and customer activity is a critical challenge.

But what if data populated automatically, and manual workflows are made as simple as some of the best consumer products out there? What if you knew the data you had on a customer was up to date, accurate and complete?

Changes like these would let you model and analyze the churn risk or upsell potential of each customer. Advisors could log in and immediately see their highest-value and most urgent tasks. And, most importantly, you could see the effectiveness of almost any sales and marketing activity.

The technologies needed for this exist today. Leading financial services organizations are using them to augment and maximize the value of their CRM systems, and as a result, drastically improve the customer experience.

Increase Adoption with User-Friendly Systems

The number one thing you can do to increase the value of your CRM is simple: Get your advisors to use it.

Advisors are busy people. To grow their business, they need to reach out to new prospects, stay in touch with existing contacts, and provide meaningful advice to loyal clients. Even established advisors need to optimize their time to make sure they can spend it where it will give them the biggest return – in front of clients. Those same established advisors may be facing generational account turnover and need to prepare to deal with the way a younger clientele does business – digitally.

Yet, after time spent with thousands of advisors and their teams in 2017 and into this year, we found that up to 70 percent of their time is spent on tedious manual processes. And they’re not necessarily lacking the digital tools they need to improve efficiency; the issues are more complex.

Questions we hear often are, “How do I get my advisors excited about our digital system (including CRM)? How can I help them understand it will make their life easier?” Without buy-in and usage of digital tools from your advisor networks, you’ll lack the valuable client and interaction data necessary to provide insights that streamline processes, improve client touchpoints and drive better advisor production.

Here are six ways our clients – heads of sales, marketing and IT – are helping their advisors get true value from their CRM systems:

1. Make Data Capture Easy and Automatic

Your advisors aren’t paid to enter data; they need to spend time on activities they see value in, and those activities are the ones that will make them money. As Chris Field, head of integrations for New York Life, recently told us, “It’s all about making sure the agent never has to enter anything into Salesforce.” Automatically capturing every type of data is when you’ll start to see an exponential increase in the power of your CRM. Go beyond the top of the funnel to capture interaction data including social, email, text and voice calls, as you can with Hearsay Advisor Cloud.

2. Allow Advisors to Capture Data On-the-go

The world is mobile, and so are your advisors. Make sure you have a complete mobile front-end for your CRM, tailored to fit an on-the-go experience. It should quickly tell your advisors the next best conversation to have, the people they need to call and what happened with them previously, and give them the ability to dictate a follow-up task. In essence, let advisors do all the things they need to do, but from their phone.

3. Focus on Onboarding and Training

Provide professional, peer-based, and even automated training to your advisors. Clients like Wells Fargo, Farmers Insurance and MassMutual Financial invest heavily in professional trainers to go into the field and educate their advisors on new tools like CRM.

When it comes to peer training, one of our customers in Canada is an industry leader, with 5,000 advisor peer teachers signed up as “Digital Navigators.” They created a grassroots movement with these change-agent advisors, launching them before they ultimately changed every advisor sign-on description to include digital. New York Life even has Alexa, by Amazon, training reps with their homegrown mentoring app. Reps can ask, “What do I do when x?” and Alexa gives them the official answer. This innovative solution was built with their mantra of “anything we can do to make it easy” in mind.

4. Add Tools That Complement Your CRM

A CRM alone can’t help advisors manage a client through the full lifecycle. Adding tools that complement your CRM can augment data, automate workflows, initiate and manage compliant cross-channel communications, and provide analytics, all to make life easier for advisors – not to mention increase productivity and revenue.

Adding Hearsay Advisor Cloud to your CRM, for example, provides a full-funnel digital suite to maximize the impact of social selling. This includes identifying new leads based on social signals, as well as more personalized (but automated) one-to-one follow-up and relationship building with social, email, text and voice calls. And all of it is compliant, with built-in pre-approval tools and advanced compliance and supervision workflows.

“It’s great to work with a team that really understands the needs of the industry. Everything Hearsay does allows us to enable our agents holistically, whether that’s on social media or through agent websites,” says Katie Piretti, director of digital development, at American National.

5. Automate Critical Industry-specific Workflows

Several platforms have productized crucial workflows so sales reps can leverage the right content and engage with clients at the right moment, via the client’s preferred channel. Hearsay’s Advisor Cloud platform takes this a step further with an in-depth understanding of the financial services industry, including compliance issues.

In the countless hours we’ve spent sitting side by side with advisors and their team, we saw that the best advisors knew to take the voicemails they were leaving and move them to more efficient channels, like texting and one-to-one emails, for key money-in-motion moments: bond maturity reminders, billing reminder/grace period reminders, annual review reach-outs. These conversations and common advisor-client engagement workflows are now available in Hearsay as pre-crafted and automated emails and text messages. By offering advisors a platform explicitly tailored to the way your advisors work, with pre-written content and both automated and supervisory compliance tools, your advisors gain an immediate level of ease, familiarity and comfort that encourages adoption.

6. Make it Competitive

Corina Roy, assistant vice president of field digital at MassMutual, knows advisor firms are competitive by nature and she played on this to push digital and CRM adoption. By creating and sharing the quarterly results of a holistic, points-based measure of digital maturity that ranks advisor practices into four categories (based on Hearsay’s Digital Business Maturity Model) – developing (0-25 points), emerging (26-50 points), strategic (51-75 points), and market-leading (76+ points) – rates of digital adoption are increasing.

Data: Moving to Quality and Integration

When your CRM is done right, it allows sales and marketing to focus energy on the right clients, at the right time, with the right message. And in the case of the highly regulated financial services industry, they need to do it compliantly. The requirement? Complete, automated, accurate data.

As anyone who’s ever dealt with either customer data or a CRM knows, this is a tall order.

When one of our customers recently went through a transition from a legacy on-premise CRM to Salesforce cloud CRM, the first step was to accept that, with so much pre-existing data, there would be “some warts on it.” Part of their shift in mindset is that things would not be perfect, but that was a tradeoff they were willing to accept to get things out there that advisors could use.

Data quality can be a challenge for most enterprises. As mentioned, there’s a lot of data, and it’s continuously growing. With the nature of business today, data also degrades quickly. However, it’s essential to strive for data quality because reliable data keeps your business intelligence dependable and your decisions well-informed. There are steps you can take to ensure your data quality: create mandatory fields, use picklists where possible, conduct regular deduping and data cleansing. As we’ll discuss in part two, you can also automate your data capture whenever possible.

The move to cloud CRM systems like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics 365 is another significant shift in the enterprise, allowing for easy integration between systems. Once your foundation is in place, a move to integrated, quality data is imperative. The APIs available with cloud CRMs let you easily integrate with the third-party digital tools that make data capture effortless – social engagement, marketing automation, texting and voice call transcription apps are a few that are popular with our customers.

Several of our top customers have also noted that capturing not just static, but real-time interaction data is a critical component of maximizing CRM ROI.

Check out part two, where we discuss culture and data analytics.


Mark Gilbert


Mark Gilbert brings more than 15 years of enterprise and consumer product design experience to Hearsay, having served as head of product for a variety of key business units at Microsoft including System Center, Visual Studio and Bing.

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