The CRM Recruiter’s Book Review On: ROI From CRM – It’s About Sales Process, Not Just Technology. By: Brian K. Gardner

When businesses think of CRM, they’re often thinking of the technology that is being used to capture information to create more meaningful relationships with their customers along with the latest and greatest features within those technology offerings to help improve their business processes.

Within, Brian Gardner’s book ROI from CRM, and taking his 30+ years of industrial sales experience, he determined that technology alone was not going to solve a business’s problem to increase revenue, but rather an underlying series of questions around the internal operations of a company that needs to be addressed first to help determine how to improve an organization’s bottom line.

In Brian’s book, he provides the reader with his history of being a sales rep early on with his father’s corporation Breard-Gardner Inc. , a U.S. Process Control and Instrumentation Rep/Distributor and Service company servicing the Gulf Coast, to illustrate some of the challenges he was running into with not having a functional system in place to help with building account profiles, activity logs, historical sales information, cross-sell/up-sell opportunities and sharing information across the multi-divisional organization. To tackle this, Brian decided to host a series of software vendors to present potential solutions to his problem and this is where Brian determined a fundamental challenge existed:

All the vendors didn’t understand the complex nature of industrial sales and  were showing technology based on a core CRM product along with massive amounts of customization needed to address the industrial sales life-cycle process. 

In Brian’s frustration, he decided to team up with a technology expert and build their own CRM product called Selltis, which ultimately gained popularity within the industrial sales industry allowing Brian to sell his homegrown CRM product to the masses. 

During this adventure, Brian learned how important process, not technology alone allows a company to achieve greater results, but since technology is inevitable to get there and so many companies emphasized the wrong part of the equation, Brian addresses how a business can determine a return on their investment by using his SalesProcess360 CRM Audit 5 step process which includes:

Conduct a thorough Sales Process Review

Performing a Sales Process Gap Analysis

Setting up a CRM Roadmap Matrix

CRM Phased Roadmap Execution

Review and Assessment (CRM ROI Calculator)

Within these 5 steps, Brian’s book contains many questions to get the reader thinking more about their current environment and processes, while also providing a few reference scorecards with common examples to help drive the discussion.

Brian initially focuses on outlining how businesses should rethink CRM not as a cost but as a revenue generator and how an increase in revenue by as little as 1% can help offset the cost of the CRM technology, if the right processes are put in place 1st. 

Two essential examples, Brian outlines are:

Quote Follow-Ups: by either providing the user a reminder or automating the process entirely.

Leveraging Data from other Departments: to further understand the complete 360 degree view of the customer.

How do you determine ROI from CRM?

To answer the above question, Brian provides a straightforward and simplistic approach, along with actual examples, by using his ROI Calculator which is outlined and available on his website at: 

Below are the basic inputs that are evaluated:

Annual Sales

Average Gross Profit Margin

Number of CRM Users

Monthly Fee per User

Startup Cost (Implementation costs, training, data importing, etc.)

Ongoing 1st year costs (maintenance, ongoing professional services, etc.)

Based on this evaluation and what Brian has historically seen, the cost to implement CRM is (and should be) less than 1% of the company’s current additional sales gross profit once implemented. For example, if it cost $28,600 to implement a CRM, and the company has annual sales of $20,000,000 and a annual gross profit of $4,000,000, they would need to generate an additional $143,600 in sales based on a 20% gross profit, which is .72% of the company’s current sales. 

Calculations below:

$28,600 (Cost of CRM) / $4,000,000 (Gross Profit) = .72% (Cost to implement CRM)

.72% (Cost to implement CRM) X $20,000,000 (Annual Sales) = $143,600 (Additional revenue needed to justify CRM cost)

Additionally, Brian provides some additional cost/benefit examples to calculate time spent doing manual number and data crunching, costs of losing a sales rep which includes no documented activity, management’s time to get a new rep up and running, and the time the new sales rep to understand the sales process.

Next, Brian explores the top reasons why CRM projects succeed or fail and highlights, based on his experience, only 20% of industrial companies perceive they are getting the ROI they are looking for from CRM.

The primary reasons fall into 4 major categories with the highest being company culture implications:

Incorrect Expectations (misunderstanding of TCO, wrong CRM vendor)

Data (bad/inconsistent data, islands of data stored in various locations)

Management (murky vision, prioritization)

Culture (Too much too soon, no internal champion, not positioned as a team solution, limited training, IT is taking over without business involvement)      

After understanding the reasons why CRM projects may fail, Brian jumps into the most important aspect to get the highest ROI from a CRM system by explaining how utilizing the front end (lead to order) of the sales process is critical for success versus the back end (quote to order). Within this front-end process, this book asks challenging questions about how to monitor and track the various aspects up front to determine where the gaps and inefficiencies lie.  

For example:   

How are you qualifying a lead up front before too much time and resources is spent in the process? Are you asking the right questions to confirm the lead is really interested in your product or service?

How are you defining the criteria to move the lead to an opportunity? Does it have real potential to move to the quote stage?

What is your evaluation criteria to determine if the potential customer is worth quoting in the 1st place and is it time well spent?

Is your quoting process consistent across the organization with the same format, pricing, discounts, product SKU’s?

Brian then goes into details and a few formulas as it relates to leading indicators on the front end of the sales process and uses load input goals to help drive revenue growth and take action early in the process rather than the end of the quarter or year. This is where Brian uses his Secret Sales Formula by taking the Sales Goals, Base Recurring Business, New Opportunities and Close Rate Percentage to determine if the goals will be met and if you have your CRM set up and how being utilized correctly can gain instant visibility in how your team is performing on their Sales Goals by:

Setting expectations regarding what new load input will be needed

Train on these expectations with the how and why

Monitor against these expectations (things that get monitored are the things that get done)

Finally, Brian takes us through a few additional chapters around the following areas:

Taking a phased approach to your CRM implementation and the recommended phases to take to help maximize the ROI

Emphasizing the training aspect of the why, not just the how and what provides a company a competitive advantage (it’s not its products, service, experience, people)

Considerations for vendor selection along with a Vendor Scorecard

In conclusion, Brian uses his decades of experience in Sales and CRM involvement in this great book, ROI on CRM, so if you’re looking for a simple, yet highly effective approach to think through ideas and to challenge your front-end sales processes to drive revenue while leaving technology out of the equation, this book is highly recommended.

You can purchase ROI from CRM from the below Amazon link, as well as checking out Brian’s website at: for some of his available material for download as well as learning more about the services he provides and customers he has helped.

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