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How to Achieve Maximum ROI from your CRM

Few enterprise tools have the potential to revolutionize daily operations and help businesses achieve best-case ROIs like a CRM. Case in point, Activision, one of the world’s leading game publishers, managed a cost-to-benefit ratio of 1-to-2.1 by deploying the wealth of features provided by a platform like Salesforce. This represents an average annual benefit of $800,000 (measuring only Activison’s costs related to support interactions to manage its customer relationships).

There are many driving factors behind the continued investment in and adoption of CRM platforms among businesses. However, three key benefits of a CRM stand out by delivering the most long-term value:

  • Enhancing business visibility with unprecedented insights into everyday operations
  • Improving business predictability by mapping trends and modeling future scenarios
  • Helping businesses understand their customers, use that knowledge to improve experiences, and increase the average customer lifetime value

On top of more intangible benefits, businesses usually see the advantage of using a CRM directly in their bottom line. With such a clear, money-backed value proposition, the case for investing in a CRM is obvious.

Calculating the ROI of your CRM investment is not always as straightforward. It will be different on a case-by-case basis for each business. However, it’s essential to get it right, as an accurate estimation will also help you maximize the benefit of your CRM long-term.

Below, we’ll discuss how you can more accurately calculate the ROI of your CRM investment as well as what you should do to eliminate common pitfalls that negatively impact your ROI.

How to calculate the ROI of your CRM investment

Before you start, you should ask yourself:

  • What were the specific benefits expected?
  • What was the expected ROI?

Factoring in expectations means that calculating the ROI is not as simple as taking the (technical) implementation cost plus the subscription (SaaS) costs and reducing it from the increase in profits.

Furthermore, the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is also influenced by several other factors. For example, do you use a cloud-based or on-premise CRM solution? How is maintenance and support billed? How much will you need to pay for customizations and integration services? Many hidden costs often elude first-time adopters.

While it won’t be the same for all businesses, almost all CRM ROI calculations should factor in the following:

  • The total upfront investments, such as the selection process, acquisition cost, cost of deployment, etc.
  • All costs associated with customizing the solution and integrating it with existing business tools, sales cycles, and compliance mandates.
  • Costs related to training employees to use the CRM system.
  • The cost of external or internal resources needed to run and utilize the platform.
  • Ongoing maintenance and support costs
  • Unexpected implementation delays, or slower than expected sales adoption.

At the same time, all the ways a CRM delivers returns may not immediately be apparent. Based on your unique situation, you should also calculate the financial benefit of the CRM in terms of the following:

  • Increase in conversion rates
  • Time saved in terms of billable hours
  • Increase in average revenue per lead
  • Improvement in organization-wide collaboration and productivity
  • Improvements to business focus and business planning

As you can see, the TCO is not a once-off expense and is influenced by more factors than you might expect. Similarly, the ROI might also not be immediately apparent and is not a static value. With ongoing costs and benefits, it’s a value that should be tracked and updated with time to continue to assess the lifetime value of the CRM.

Once you know how to calculate the real ROI of a CRM, you can use it to optimize things going forward. If your ROI is not living up to expectations, it may be because of the following pitfalls:

#1- Limited adoption

Even within forward-looking businesses, change is not always embraced by everyone. Organizations need to ensure that everyone is on board with the shift toward using a CRM and will use it to its maximum potential.

Common obstacles to achieving this are:

  •  Changing mindsets that a CRM is not “just” a marketing, admin, or management tool, but rather a platform useful for sales.
  • Using parallel pipelines with pre-CRM tools, like MS Excel sheets.
  • Considering the CRM as an optional tool instead of a business imperative.

Employees should be primed for the CRM by receiving a clear explanation (and demonstration) as to why it’s being used and the expected benefits (for them, for the team they belong to, and the company as a whole). Proper training and support should also be provided to ease adoption and maximize utilization.

#2 - Siloed use of the CRM

As mentioned, teams or departments often adopt a CRM in isolation without seeing the bigger picture.

Today’s top CRM systems feature comprehensive suites of business tools that help to orchestrate and synchronize the entire business machine. From management to sales to marketing to HR to finance and R&D, a CRM can be a single-point-of-contact across the organization.

For example, marketing and sales can use built-in or integrated sales intelligence tools to manage leads and convert deals. At the same time, upper management can use real-time data, reports, and analysis tools to assess performance and project sales.

#3- The “intelligence” of the platform is underutilized

Today, advanced CRMs feature Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (ML) to help businesses make informed decisions faster and more accurately.

Through visual dashboards, customizable reports, and data surfacing tools, business leaders have unprecedented insight into how their business functions and why. More advanced intelligence-based systems can even automatically detect inefficiencies or lost opportunities and deliver tailored recommendations on how to improve.

This is much faster than traditional, manual methods that are dependent on spreadsheets. It also allows for meaningful discussions around strategy from a top-down or cross-department perspective.


Calculating the value or ROI of a CRM platform is more complex than doing a cost-to-benefit analysis. It starts with clearly defining your expectations and consistently measuring them against the actual results. Then, you need to audit your business thoroughly and how you utilize the CRM to find all the hidden costs and potential vectors where you can benefit from using the platform.

Once you are confident that you can accurately assess the ROI of the CRM, you can ensure that you maximize the potential benefits, including:

  • Improving the visibility and predictability of the business - despite an ever-changing climate
  • Improving the accuracy of budgeting and forecasting - to better steer your business
  • Identifying and eliminating inefficiencies - thus improving sales effectiveness
  • Accelerating the pace of decision making - to turn your business potential into results.