Accelerating CRM

Today I worked with a company who has had CRM in their company for 13 years. They are a rather complicated infrastructure and have multiple CRM solutions across many divisions and multiple countries. Granted, their situation is somewhat unique due to this complicated infrastructure, however my greatest take away from this all day marathon meeting is applicable to any organization who has CRM software: Company’s change. Processes change. People change. Things change.

The objective of our meeting was to define the priority processes within the organization that are in part or full maintained in a CRM solution that should be changed or improved. The result of this deep dive was astounding! I wished I had a dollar for every time someone said they are currently managing a process or part of a process manually (outside of system).  I am not going to pretend that by using CRM you will possess the magic wand that eliminates all process confusion or provide total automation, however it can bridge a lot of gaps.

The most important element in effective CRM usage is process definition and let’s face it dissection.  It’s not always an easy undertaking and sometimes it might even fall on the side of painful, but like the muscle ache you experience after a good work out, it’s a good pain and if you want to improve, a necessary pain. 

A company does not have to have had CRM software for over a decade to experience disparity in process and existing technology. Disparity between process and automated CRM solutions can exist as early as day one of implementation if the process definition and dissection did not occur.

Maximize the utilization of your CRM solution and the return that can be experienced from it by going through the necessary process exercises. It is an effort you will never regret and what you uncover may truly surprise you!

CRM is Better Than Water Cooler Chit Chat

You are standing at the water cooler at work, making chit chat about what you did last weekend when the conversation slowly turns to work related topics.  You find out, standing at the water cooler, the company has received knowledge about which new products a key account will be accepting .  This information has an extreme impact on your day to day priorities.  A new product prototype that you were responsible for developing was a key component in the presentation. You had been anxiously waiting to hear if it had been accepted, because the future development of that product were hinging on the acceptance of it by a key account as was what you would be focusing time and energy on in the upcoming months.  You aren’t even breathing as this particular water cooler story is told.

  
“They want it?” you say, excited and a little scared. “When did we hear?”  You find out the long awaited decision finally came through in the early part of last week, and that they want the product immediately.  Of course they do.  “Last week?” you say, “As in, we found out a week ago that they want this product right away?”  You are looking dumbfounded at the sales person, who is still standing there with a large grin on his face and his chest all expanded with pride.  “You realize that was a prototype you presented? You know the product doesn’t actually exist yet, right?”


That did it.  The smile is gone and the chest deflates like a balloon with a gaping leak.  That is when the excitement really starts.  Why didn’t the salesperson know it was a prototype? Why didn’t the sales person tell product development the moment he received word the product had been accepted?  Marketing had given him detailed sales materials, so he had every right to assume the product was already in inventory, right?  Why did Marketing create the sell sheet already if it was still in prototype phase?  Is it being manufactured overseas? How long is it going to take to get here?  Oh no! How much will air freight be coming from overseas?  This is a nightmare!  This is a key account, we HAVE to hit the agreed upon delivery date!  


As you run (literally) back to your desk to try to find answers to some of these questions while simultaneously expediting the development and shipment of this product, a thought creeps into your head.  When exactly would have I found out about this if I hadn’t happened to be standing at the water cooler at that exact moment?  Seriously?!  The communication in this office is REALLY messed up!


Does this saga sound familiar?  Who needs reality television, right?  Real life is SO much more exciting!  Only in real life reality, nobody wants THIS kind of drama, do they?


It really doesn’t have to be this way.  CRM software provides the single platform for multiple departments to share information about key accounts and projects in a live environment.  All of the communication gaps that led to this predicament could have been avoided through the use of CRM software.  It is a single location for all customer facing information in an organization.  Information will no longer exist in department silo’s.  Individuals across the organization can make daily tactical decisions based on solid information instead of speculation.  Can you imagine how empowering that would be?


In a situation like this it is not uncommon for a company, after the fire has been put out, to have a meeting.  In this meeting everyone will be expected to take accountability for their part in the communication breakdown and then everyone is supposed to commit to never letting this happen again.  Wouldn’t it just be easier to implement the right tools?  What is worse? The cost of change or the cost of staying the same?  In this case you could answer that question rather quickly.  What WAS the cost of air freight?

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Contact Kym Riedel at Resolv to learn more about what a CRM Business Strategy and what a software solution could mean for your company. Kym can be reached at kriedel@resolvcrm.com or at 920-268-4074.

Visit www.resolvcrm.com to read other educational articles specific to CRM solutions.

CRM Software Selection – The Test – A Sad Story

I spoke to a CRM software prospect today.  They have about 25 people in sales, and another 10 at the home office who are internal support or management, so roughly 35 CRM seats to start.  A very typical small-mid size business. I have spoken with her several times over the last year.  The first time I spoke with her she told me that I had missed the opportunity and that they had already decided on a CRM software.  Ok.  Sometimes we don’t make it to the race.  I tickled her in my CRM system to follow with her several months later just to see how that had worked out for her.  Turns out they didn’t actually implement the CRM solution company wide.  They ran a “test” with a few people and in this test no one was using it.  The result of that test was that until sales could prove to management they will use it, by using the Excel solutions they have put in place in the interim, they are not going to pursue CRM further.  AAAHHHHHH!!! (That was an exasperated exhale.)


Ok.  Allow me to start by saying that is NOT how you implement a CRM solution.  I have about a hundred questions I want to ask this prospect to help guide them along the path of how to do this correctly. To name a few of those questions,  I would like to ask if sales was consulted prior to making the original software selection?  Was there an understanding of what the needs were of the sales department and the other departments that would be utilizing the solution?  I would like to ask if there were any discussions about aligning current process and culture to the intended software solution?  If so, have they identified areas where change needs to occur? How will they communicate that change?  I would like to ask what exactly it is they want to accomplish by implementing CRM?  What is the goal?  What do you hope to gain?  I want to ask what they intend to give sales as a result of the implementation?  Do they want to give sales better reports? Better visibility to all accounts? Better ability to manage prospects and customers activities and opportunities? Does sales understand what they stand to gain by using a new system?  Does everyone understand what the company stands to gain? Is it increased sales? Reduced costs due to improved efficiency? Is it both?  Ok, I’ll stop here.  I fear I sound like I am ranting, which I am not.  These are REALLY important questions.


The first step to selecting a CRM solution is NOT to pick a software.  It is actually one of the final steps!  I would also like to point out, that although CRM “free demo’s” are available online for you try, be very leery of using that as a companywide test of a solution.  A successful CRM solution is about company-wide collaboration.  It’s about defining what information you want to collect and measure and clearly articulating to all of the users what they as individuals and the company stands to gain from the collection and sharing of this information.   So, that being the case, how then could a test with a couple of individuals be a measurement of success?  If everyone isn’t using the solution you technically still have little or no visibility to information and without everyone using it, you have no ability to use it as a management or reporting tool, which is one of its greatest benefits.  So why would you be surprised that it’s not performing to your expectations? 


A “test” also carries a pass/fail connotation with it, and I don’t know about you, but if I have a choice, I choose NOT to take a test I’m not prepared for.  So, unless this is a top-down mandate, and you have extensively trained the users on the solution you are asking them to “test” they are going to opt out (not participate).  Training costs money.  Money that companies are typically not willing to spend on a solution they are not yet entirely committed to (which is pretty clear  to all when you call it a “test”). Can you see the problem here?  A CRM test is typically a very bad idea because it is destined for failure before it starts.  The worst part about it is a company will walk away from one of these tests and believe their organization is not “ready” for a CRM solution, when the one thing this whole exercise did prove is how incongruent their communications really are and how much they really do need a better communications solultion!


I have planted the seed that the CRM selection PROCESS was likely the culprit here, not the poor sales guys who are now under the gun to use a tool that is not designed to make them effective and efficient.  A single department alone cannot change corporate culture.  I believe this company is serious about change.  I believe they will evolve to using technology that will make them better at what they do.  Perhaps this article finds them and guides them along that path.

Choosing a CRM Business Partner

In our industry, when a developer and consultant, such as Resolv, works with an existing software publisher (like Sage for example), our relationship is called that of a “Business Partner”.  Angela, one of our company’s Principals, and I were talking about the relationship between us and our customer.  We were discussing whether or not our relationship with our customers is appropriately described when using “vendor/client” terminology.  Really, it is not.  We are without a doubt, “Business Partners” with our customers as well.

 

Our sales process begins by educating the customer on the process of successfully selecting and implementing CRM software.  You will quickly learn by reading the many blogs and the verbiage on our webpage that we believe the most important decision you will make regarding your CRM software implementation is your Business Partner.

The reason for this is because in order for a CRM implementation to be successful your organization’s culture and processes need to be in alignment with your business strategy.  It’s an evolution.  It is not about downloading software on to your computers and telling everyone to use it.  It’s about understanding what you want to accomplish and when.  It’s about having measurable or quantifiable goals with a realistic timeline.  It’s about knowing what you want to ACCOMPLISH by implementing CRM software and being able to measure that result after the implementation.

A Business Partner is someone who works with you to define those goals prior to an implementation and holds everyone involved accountable to those predetermined results after the implementation.  A Business Partner is someone who will advise a phase plan approach that makes the implementation manageable and executable at a tactical level.  A Business Partner will make sure that it doesn’t just sound like a good plan, but that it IS achievable based on prior experience and expertise.  A Business Partner will look to the future with you, to begin to visualize those next plan phases and begin to work with you to incorporate them within a realistic plan.

A Business Partner is someone that you will be working with for years to come.  When you begin the CRM implementation investigation process, don’t ask yourself, “Which software?”  Ask yourself which partner you want to be working with a decade from now.  Because, if you do it right, the consultant you hire to implement and develop your CRM is someone you will know for many many years to come.

Kym Riedel

Resolv, Inc.

Culture Part II – The CRM Champions

“How a company manages change during a CRM implementation is a major factor in the difference between a CRM implementation success and a CRM implementation failure.”  Luke Russell, Resolv Founder

I’d like to start this article by striking a little fear into everyone.  It is estimated that over roughly 50% of all CRM software implementations fail.

  Yikes!  That IS frightening!  CRM software for any business is a significant investment.  With a 50% failure rate you might as well take that significant investment to Vegas and throw it all on either black or red at the Roulette table, right?  Wrong.  There are very specific reasons that CRM software implementations fail.  Knowing those reasons BEFORE implementation, and avoiding those pitfalls, is the key to ensuring you are on the right side of that 50%.  It is not about chance or the odds being in your favor.  This is an outcome you control.

 
Let me start by saying that CRM implementations don’t fail because of the software.  They fail because process and culture don’t align with the tool (software).  “So,” you ask, “how do I make that alignment happen?”  Fair question.   There is not just one single answer to that question.  I could answer it by going down many paths, but the path we are going to talk about today is the one that is the FOUNDATION for achieving all the others.  The answer to that question that we are going to be addressing today is:  “You choose the right champions to be on the CRM implementation team.”

In my previous blog, Culture – The Top Down Directive, we talked about how important it is for senior management to lead by example.  Few will dispute the importance of the macro to micro form of leadership and the necessity for it at every company.  However, CRM  software is about so much more than just macro to micro management.  CRM software has so many layers that it can be many things to many people.  Let’s face it, in many companies senior management may not even KNOW what a lot of their employees do daily so they couldn’t possibly begin to define how CRM software could help that individual on a daily tactical basis, right?  That’s not being critical.  It’s a reality of how businesses function.

That’s where champions come in.  As you select the CRM implementation team for your company you are NOT just looking for higher up decision maker types.  They are only one component of that team.  You also need the doers.  You need representation for the departments that really make the company function at a tactical level on a daily basis.  If a department comes into direct contact with the customer they need to be represented.  CRM software manages all customer facing activity.  Start by defining what that is and who, internally, that represents.  

Let’s dive just a little deeper into who the champion of that department might be.  In addition to having an intimate understanding of their respective function in the organization, and that of others in their representative group, the champion needs to have a specific personality type.  All individuals fall into four basic personality types;  Victim, Bystander, Critic, and Navigator.  
The Victim is the person that is always terrified.  They are terrified of change.  They are terrified they won’t be able to cut it on a daily basis.  If your prospective department representative “expert” bears this personality type, they should NOT be on the CRM implementation team.

The Bystander is the person who stands by, hopelessly hoping things won’t change, or if they do change, will wait and see what everyone else has to say about it before developing their own opinion.  If your prospective department representative “expert” bears this personality type, they should NOT be on the CRM implementation team.

The Critic is the person that not only resists change, but rallies others to resist change.  Now here is the interesting thing about the critic personality.  They are typically the loudest person in the group so you are inclined to think that if you had them on your team they could make some big waves quickly, right? You only have to win them over….  Oh they can make waves alright.  They will crush your optimistic belief they were going to support change and send negativity through the company like a smoke bomb.  Resist all inclinations to put a critic on your CRM implementation team.  Think about this one carefully, because critic personalities are sometimes hidden behind smiling faces.

The Navigator is someone who assesses change and accepts the value of it.  The Navigator is the person who will quietly contemplate the pros and cons and discuss both in an “educate me” style.  The Navigator is someone that others respect because they know this person does not make rash decisions or harsh judgments.  They may not be the fastest or most efficient person in the group, but they are the most methodical and the most respected.  That is the person you want on your CRM implementation team.

The objective is to find a Navigator for each customer facing department in your organization.  That is your CRM implementation team.  It is often interesting, when considered from this perspective, who surfaces as the representative choice.  It could the one with the most seniority or the one with the least.  It may not be the first person that comes to mind when you think of a specific department in your organization.  Here is something to consider…put the definition of the Navigator out to each department and have them select the one person in the group who best fits that personality definition.  You may be surprised at the result.
The secondary qualification for being on the CRM implementation team, of course, is their knowledge of their respective function and the functions of others in their department.  Personality type is qualification factor numero uno, however.  What they don’t know about process they should have the capacity to collect from those that do.   

Choosing your CRM implementation team is the first factor to a successful CRM implementation that you control.  You control them all, and recognizing that and planning appropriately will ensure CRM implementation success.  The implementation team is one of the most powerful tools you will have to manage the culture aspects of the implementation and ultimately of the long term success of your organization.  Choose wisely.

At Resolv, we are happy to aid you in your CRM implementation team selection and all other aspects of your CRM implementation solution.

Kym Riedel

Resolv, Inc.

CRM is NOT homework!

Do you remember when you were in high school or college; that time of year came when you selected your courses for the following semester?  Do you remember asking around to find out who had taken that class already, and “Was it hard?”, and most importantly, “Did the teacher (or professor) give a lot of homework”?  That was the ultimate criteria for deciding which teacher you would take which class with, or if you would take an elective class at all.  No one likes homework, right!  The very best classes were the ones where they allowed time in class to complete the assignments.  You could just do it and forget it, and not have to worry about it again.

I don’t think my mentality towards homework has changed all that much since then, really.  If anything, as I get older, I have less and less tolerance for doing “work” on “my” time.  I think age has made me appreciate how important “my” time really is.  So it doesn’t surprise me that when I talk to sales managers who have never used CRM before, and ask them what their reservations are, they tell me it’s because they “don’t want more work to do”.  You know what…that’s a fair statement!  I get where they’re coming from.  I believe it’s a common perception in the business world that our bosses, our prospects and our clients are always wanting more and more from us and we have less and less time to get it all done.  Often, we in sales, tend to feel like our time is not our own.  “And you want more?” we think.  “Seriously?  And where is the time for that supposed to come from?”  They envision themselves having to fire up their laptops at 10:00 p.m. after they’ve finally checked into their hotel for the night, only to enter information into the CRM software that they already emailed or called into their inside contacts earlier in the day.  They don’t want to be held accountable for yet another task at the end of each day.  They don’t want to use the little “me” time they have at the end of a travel day working even longer hours.

CRM is not homework!  CRM can be accessed through smart phones and iPads as well as laptops.  Bring your device of choice with you into your customer meeting.  Use it as a means to demonstrate to your customer your encompassing knowledge of them and their history with your company.  Take brief notes right in your device and schedule the follow up actions needed while your customer is right in front of you.  If you aren’t comfortable with that, then make it a habit not to leave the customers’ parking lot without inputting the (limited) key points of the conversation and documenting a follow up action or assigning the appropriate tasks. Limit yourself to 2 minutes of entry after each customer contact.  Using CRM effectively allows you to do it and forget it, much like choosing the course that provided time for you to do your homework in class.

   
That 2 minutes of discipline will give you back minutes in your day and hours in your week. Not only will you not have CRM homework, it will eliminate the need for lengthy emails and long meetings.  Interested parties will know they can find the answers, tasks and next steps in the CRM and require less of your precious time.  Your time will be yours to manage and you will once again, be glad you have another free night, without homework!

Kym Riedel
Resolv, Inc.

Be a Miraculous Marketer

I have been tasked with writing the company newsletter in my past lives…and anyone who has shared that responsibility knows the associated dread that comes as the next publish date approaches.  It’s tough being creative on queue! 

You know you had a brilliant idea at one point during the last 30 days that you fully intended to carry the newsletter with, but it now escapes you as you stare at the blank template.  When these dark moments come you start thinking even more negatively.  “Who even reads this anyhow?” you start to ask yourself and “Am I just wasting my time?”
 
Though I am using a newsletter as an example in this story, we know these same doubts often apply in many marketing campaigns.  Marketing sometimes feels subjective.  You have to “believe” your efforts are having an impact because you haven’t been able to actually quantify them.  Marketing is an important role that sometimes leaves its champions feeling a little lost behind the scenes.
 
Allow me to let you in on a secret.  It doesn’t have to be that way.
 
I like to think of myself as creative (at least selectively), but more importantly I think of myself as analytical.  Show me the numbers!  The beauty of CRM is that it can provide analytics for previously subjective activities.  You can use CRM to track how many of your email campaigns have been open, viewed or read.  You can begin to quantify that fact that leads came from your marketing efforts.  And here is the real magic….when you are feeling creative you can create campaigns (like newsletters!) in advance and set up automated processes for them to release on a predetermined schedule. 


Imagine…writing all 12 of your newsletters in one industrious day and allowing the automated process to send them on schedule.  Better still, let that automated process automatically update the contact record that it has been opened and read by the prospect and then auto notify the appropriate sales person so they can call in “warm” instead of “cold”.  When that prospect becomes a client…you now KNOW your efforts played a part in securing that business.  Create a report in your CRM that notifies you on a monthly basis of all the prospects that were converted to clients after having opened and read your marketing emails.  Evaluate which marketing campaigns created more leads, improve your campaigns or target market based on specific groups to achieve the results you desire.
 
You won’t believe what an impact creativity combined with analytics can do for your departmental objectives or for your morale! It will seem miraculous!

Resolv – What We Believe

“People don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it.” Simon Sinek

We work with businesses everyday to help them understand that the relationships they establish and maintain with their customers are the life blood of who they are, regardless of what they do. Regardless of whether you sell a product or service, regardless of whether you work from a magnificent corporate glass building or work out of the trunk of your car, relationships are the key to success for any organization.

  So one has to ask themselves then, why they want to pursue these relationships.  Why does your organization want to establish communication with that particular outside party?  What do they hope to achieve or accomplish?  Why do you personally want to engage with the representative of that customer?  What does it mean to you personally to complete that task or objective?
 
It is our belief that there is no greater reason to explore the answers to these questions than when you are in our profession.  The profession, ultimately, of advising others how to  manage, maintain, and improve business relationships.  CRM software and the correct development and user adoption of that software provides companies with a tool to manage, build and truly master customer communication at all levels within the organization.  So, why, we ask ourselves, do we want to do that?  The Principals of Resolv, Luke Russell and Angela Talano take that question and more importantly, their answer to that question, very seriously.

Ultimately, it is because we have seen the incredible changes that companies experience when CRM is successfully implemented, developed and adopted into a company.  To be part of something that can literally catapult a company to the next level is an exciting and inspiring endeavor.  To truly partner with a client and understand the fine details of their business and to contribute to their success by providing the most important tool they need to achieve their goals is a phenomenal experience.  Honestly, we struggle with how to translate that passion into verbiage.  We do what we do so your company can achieve its goals in a measurable, knowledge based environment.  We believe, in our absolute core, that we have the tools and experience to help you make that happen.
 
We Believe …
– Organizations can see dramatic improvements when CRM software is implemented as a tool when in coordination with a solid business strategy.
– More productive, successful employees will be an outcome of proper usage of CRM software by all people in within an organization. 
– Profitability and customer loyalty come as a result of simple changes to culture and proper usage of technology within an organization.

If you get a chance, and have about 20 minutes to spare, take a look at Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk at the link below.  The basis of his seminar is to educate others about the importance of understanding WHY you do what you do, and that once you have learned to lead with the WHY, instead of with the traditional HOW or WHAT, you will have truly distinguished yourself with the elite businesses that refuse to fail.
 
http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html?quote=710

Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle
 Simon Sinek Golden Circle

We do understand WHY we want to work with our clients, and with our prospective clients.  Simon says to “work with those who believe what you believe”.  Do you believe you can achieve greatness if you have the proper tools to create productive, happy employees and profitable, loyal customers? If so, we certainly look forward to working with you.

Kym Riedel

Resolv, Inc