You didn’t implement your current CRM by saying, “today, I am going to totally screw up our company.” It wasn’t your goal to add more work for your sales team. You didn’t decide to implement a software system that was not in alignment with your company goals and vision. You didn’t say to yourself that culture and process have nothing to do with CRM. No. You implemented with visions of CRM success. So what happened? Continue reading →
We have two great webinars for you!
Choosing the right CRM for your organization
Whether you are implementing CRM for the first time, or looking to replace an existing CRM application, this webinar is for you. During the webinar we will discuss the foundation for a successful CRM software implementation.
During this 1 hour webinar we will discuss:
- How to define your sales strategy and processes
- Realistic goals for CRM
- How to best achieve your goals
The main learning points for this webinar are:
- Define the process of CRM selection
- List pitfalls many organizations fall into while looking for CRM
- Understand the different delivery options for CRM
- Discuss when to integrate accounting data into CRM
Getting more out of Salesforce (or any CRM)
In this one hour webinar we will review how to achieve maximum utilization of your CRM system. We will discuss how to ensure CRM is in alignment with your corporate goals, processes, and culture.
With optimized CRM you will experience:
- Maximized user adoption
- Effective processes
- Increased customer retention
- Improved customer service
- Greater employee satisfaction
Indicators that you could use your CRM system more fully:
- There are many disconnected databases
- There are still a lot of manual processes
- There are still many Microsoft Excel spreadsheets or Microsoft Access databases in use
- Real time data is a distant dream – the data you see is old by the time you see it
- There is a lack of interoffice communication regarding customer data
- There is no one place to see all that you need to know about a customer
The main learning points for this webinar are:
- Look at reasons for CRM “failure”
- Discuss increasing user adoption
- Understand CRM strategy
- 3 tips to accelerating your CRM in the next 3 months
It may be that you cannot wait for a webinar. That is fine, let us guide you through your CRM journey. Contact us at 920-730-1300 to discuss the next step in your CRM roadmap.
Register for a webinar below:
In their haste to increase user adoption and achieve ROI from CRM, executives sometimes set-up roadblocks to their own success. That’s right, company executives can frequently be the speed bump hampering their CRM success.
How can this be? The issue to companies’ lack of success with a CRM implementation comes subtlety after implementing a CRM software. For some reason, with the implementation of CRM software, companies shift the focus from results to CRM software utilization. Let me give you four examples: Continue reading →
I was with a customer last week that is using CRM for “accurate forecasting.” Let me say, before I go any further, that I believe that CRM can help with forecasting. In fact I believe it can “greatly improve” forecasting. However, I do not believe there is any such thing as “accurate forecasting.” Let me explain:
First, for those of you who know me, I believe words mean things. Therefore , my first approach to understanding is to look up definitions. So a simple Google search for the definition of the word “Accurate,” and you receive the following:
1. (of information, measurements, statistics, etc.) correct in all details; exact.
If you have a sales person who loves your CRM system, is excellent at updating deals, and is diligent at entering notes, I can bet one thing and win 99% of the time: He or she is not your top sales person. How am I so certain? Most CRM systems are built with the end in mind (collecting data) on the means (enabling the sales person).
Let me be clear. Enabling sales does not mean collecting data; enabling sales means providing data in the easiest method possible. Continue reading →
When I first started using CRM software, I will admit, I thought it was a little intense for what I believed was pretty basic stuff. After all, I had been selling successfully most of my adult career and I had always done just fine without it, right?
Recognizing that I could either accept change, like the Sniff and Scurry of Who Moved My Cheese, or resist change and stay behind in the empty cheese chamber like Hem and Haw, I decided to embrace this new challenge and see if there truly was anything to all the hype. That being said I’m not the type to jump on a passing band wagon without really good cause so I decided to give it an honest try and reserve all judgment for 30 days. I will admit, I expected it to be a little more intuitive. As easy, perhaps as ordering a book from Amazon? Shouldn’t everything be that easy now days? (Seriously, whoever came up with 1-Click ordering deserves a medal.) I think I was expecting that every feature and function should appear as a push button option in the screen I was on, sort of like mind reading magic. Perhaps I’m not easily impressed?
I won’t admit to being an overnight convert. Not exactly overnight. By that I mean it took a couple of days for me to truly accept the value of being able to sleep at night without waking up every couple of hours and running through the mental list of things I needed to do the next day, or worse, the surfacing subconscious list of what I was supposed to have already done the day before, and had failed to complete. That list has a tendency to prevent further sleep. I hate that list. I remember gradually submitting to the magic of CRM and all the benefits it provided the way I submit to knowing I’m going to eat the entire Hershey’s chocolate bar, instead of just the half I had promised myself I would. Really, it’s just too good. Give me one good reason to stop!
As I began to utilize the software more, I realized that the layers of this solution are what make it so miraculous. In addition to the basic time management functions of CRM, which are impossible not to love, I quickly realized that because others within the company were using it too, and sharing information, the result was a reduction for the demand of my time. It meant a reduction of incoming calls from inquiring internal parties. It meant a reduction of reporting required by me on a weekly basis. After all, the information is right there for all to see. It truly felt like I had discovered a way to do more and be more but with less time.
I have finally resigned to the fact that I am addicted. I am referring to CRM not chocolate, though the latter is also a possibility. If someone, anyone, tried to take my CRM away from me it would get really ugly really fast. I like my sleep. I’m a nicer person when I get my beauty rest. If I had to revert back to my many pages of to-do lists and notes and appointment cards and spreadsheets and business cards and paper reports I would never get another solid night’s sleep again. It would be HORRIBLE, because now I would KNOW what it’s like not to have to live like that. I now know what it’s like to get a full night’s sleep.
If you didn’t sleep well last night because lists are appearing behind your eyelids, call me. I have a solution for you.
If you desire a high usage of CRM after implementation, this blog post is for you …
Companies invest several thousands even several hundred thousands of dollars in preparation, customization, and implementation of CRM software only to find out that users do not use the system. This is largely due to the system being a shift in culture for the users. Users are so engrained in how they used to do it, and the CRM system, whether a change for the better or not, is new and different, and often overwhelming to the new user. This is especially true for the sales user.
By no means do I intend to degrade sales people in this post, and please do not take it as such, but the fact is many sales people (especially from my generation and beyond) are not high-tech computer users. They use email, Excel (to an extent), and Word. They do what they have to on the computer to accomplish their daily tasks, and that is pretty much the extent of it.
What most companies do after a CRM implementation is to hold a “training” to teach the new users how to use the new system, and then they turn the users loose to go at it alone. After all, it makes sense, right? Contacts, accounts, opportunities, and notes are all a logical part of the sales process, so after only one training why would a sales person not take to it like ducks to water? Because it is a lot to take in! So, what do companies do when their users feel overwhelmed and confused by the new system? They send reminders to their people that they are not doing this right, or they are forgetting to put that into CRM. Rather than send the reminders, think about how you can better educate your users.
If you want your users to be comfortable using your new CRM system, you need to hold that initial CRM education, and follow it up with another in a few weeks, and another. In fact CRM education should be a part of all sales meetings (at least quarterly) for the first couple of years. After all, isn’t your goal to make your CRM system a natural extension of the user?
Can you imagine what it would be like if a professional athlete were hired by a team, given an introduction training to the teams plays, handed a play book, and left to their own from that point on? I would not place any bets on that team ever having a winning season! Whether you are a sports team or a multi-million dollar company, education and repetition is the key to success.
You have invested a large sum of money in your system and your people, true success can only come through education and repetition. The success of your CRM implementation is proportional to the amount of education you invest after implementation.
I cannot count the number of times that I have reviewed the pros and cons of SaaS (cloud computing) or on-premise CRM alternatives, so I am going to share my thoughts in this blog post.
First let me cover cost. Many make the argument for SaaS based on cost, stating that SaaS is less expensive. While that may be true for the initial outlay (usually one year of service for SaaS vs all licensing for on-premises), the actual reality is that after 3 years licensing is roughly equal (see charts one and two and compare the three year costs). However, the sticker shock comes in year 4 when SaaS is 3 ½ times more expensive each and every year. My recommendations on cost are as follows:
Go with the CRM that meets your needs (on-premises or Saas) since 3 year licensing costs are very similar
If you like the idea of spreading your payments out over several years, but on-premises seems to be a better solution, consider leasing the software.
This is where SaaS shines! If you do not have servers or updated workstations/laptops, an on-premises implementation my be costly in terms of hardware. All on-premises CRM systems will require at least one server (a database server like Microsoft SQL server), and many require multiple servers.
This is where on-premises shines! If you are looking to implement true enterprise-wide CRM, you will be looking for data integration into your back office at the very least, and quite possibly other sources of customer data as well. Linking to invoicing, orders, and accounts receivable is not the easiest thing to do in a SaaS environment. While it is not impossible, it frequently requires more time and resources to set-up the links and build the tunnels to allow access.
Along the same lines with integration is automation of processes and alerts. This is a very difficult thing to do with some SaaS models. If the software does not include an alert engine or process automation you are stuck. With on-premises you can augment any CRM system with automation and alerts provided by such products as Vineyardsoft’s KnowledgeSync (http://www.vineyardsoft.com/).
Speed of Implementation:
This is an “old wives tale.” SaaS only CRM companies make it sound like SaaS can be fully implemented in 24 hours and on-premises takes years. The truth is that the time to live is about equal for both. Just because you can have a database live up in the cloud in 24 hours (which can be done for on-premises as well) doesn’t mean you have CRM. There are many things that have to happen before CRM is live. These include, but are not limited to:
- Initial discussions of needs and layout of the project plan and goals
- Data source cleansing, data import, duplicate removal
- Customizations and configurations to match your needs
- User education
SaaS has one draw-back here. In order to access the data you must be connected to the internet. The speed of access is based on your internet connection speed and the number of users accessing the web at that time. Other people using services like Netflix and Amazon movies can cause internet speed issues and actually cause your access to CRM to be less responsive.
As I stated earlier, go with the CRM solution that will best help you meet your Customer Relationship Management strategic goals. Infotech Research Group (http://www.infotech.com/) gives the following guidelines you may want to consider:
Choose SaaS CRM if…
· There is no executive support or CRM strategy and you need something in the department right away.
· You need to speed up implementation timeframes.
· You need something right now that can grow with you quickly as needed. A lot of organizations that went through a failed big-bang CRM are trying SaaS, but are doing so cautiously and want to see results before they try to roll it out further.
· You have too few IT staff available to administrate the system in the long term.
· You have no disaster recovery plan for CRM data so keeping it on someone else’s locations seems smart.
· Little offline capability is required.
Choose On-Premises CRM if…
· There is a legislative/regulatory requirement to host your own data or keep it in a certain jurisdiction.
· Complex data integration with large data volumes is needed. Info-Tech’s survey suggests that customers are still having trouble getting the kind of tight integration mid-large size organizations need. Solving that is key for SaaS products to continue to move up market. Data integration is tricky enough to begin with, but there are many factors that complicate it further, such as large data volumes integrated across the web and firewall configuration issues.
· You want to align CRM with your existing ERP vendor and the on-premises product is different or superior.
· Heavy offline capability is required.
I am often asked to implement free or discounted CRM for non-profit organizations, my hope in this blog is to help non-profits understand the value of CRM software.
While there are several CRM packages that are free or next to free for non-profits, they frequently produce results on relation to cost. One of the main reasons for this is that much of the setup/implementation is left to the organization itself. This is a daunting task when many non-profits run with a limited staff and volunteers, most of which are not software implementation experts, let-alone CRM business strategy experts. Non-profits seem to fall into the do-it-yourself mode of CRM implementation even more-so than for-profit organizations and the affects can be even greater (see my blog on the ).
Rather than a long, drawn-out process, it is critical that a non-profit receives return on investment (ROI) rapidly through their CRM implementation. It is equally critical that the software be configured and simple to use (since an untold number of volunteers may need to be trained on a regular basis). This is where the non-profit should rely on a CRM consultant that understands these values and that can help them to work through the processes quickly and efficiently.
When you think about it, CRM for non-profit is even more complex than a for-profit organization. Often non-profits have to track:
- Capital Campaigns
All while attempting to keep each informed as to what is happening with the money collected.
Corporate America is turning more and more to CRM software to enable them to better understand their customers and be proactive to each customer’s needs. They understand the value of each customer and realizing that maintaining a customer takes more than an occasional phone call or email. If that is true with Corporate America, it should be even more so with non-profit organizations. Let’s face it, America’s pocket book is getting tighter and people want to know that their charitable contributions are appreciated, acknowledged, and worth-while.
Finally, without a business partner helping with the support of CRM, many non-profits lose focus on CRM and end up with a patchwork of databases that are neither user friendly or functional. The main question to ask when considering an investment in CRM is what will it do to the bottom line, and who is best able to help with it. Consider these facts:
- Many volunteers that are working on databases for non-profit organizations are frustrated by the inefficiency of the system (often entering data into multiple sources), and the lack of usage of the data in future endeavors. Volunteers participating in what they see as non-productive process have a much higher burn out ratio. What would your organization be like if it had a lesser turn-over of volunteers?
- Often a non-profit will use a score of volunteers to do what one automated process can do, thinking that they are saving money since volunteers are free. Can you imagine what would happen if your organization were to repurpose those volunteers into doing something more mission oriented?
- Non-profits are competing for America’s share of the charity wallet with antiquated systems and poorly-executed processes highly dependent on volunteers. Through automation of processes and responses non-profits are able provide a consistency of action in prospect and donor follow-up and appreciation often increasing donations by at least 10% annually. (This means more than simply implementing a CRM database, it requires set-up of processes and the automation of those processes.) What would a 10% increase in your gross contributions look like for your organization?
Ultimately, whether the software is free or not, the success of CRM software depends on the implementation execution of a good business strategy. My best advice is do what you do best (the mission of your organization) and rely on CRM experts to help you achieve success with your donor/support database.
So you decided to make the plunge and implement CRM software, but it is not having the impact you thought it would, what can be done about it?
First of all, purchasing and implementing CRM software is the first step, not the last. Old habits have to change and new processes need to be developed, after all technology is only around 10% of a CRM implementation (see our webpage that talks about technology, process and culture). But how do you “teach an old dog new tricks,” as they say?
You start out by ensuring the software is delivering what your users require. The software should enable your users by:
- Providing data in a timely manner (like up-to-date sales data about your customers that used to be delivered once a month in a report)
- Providing insights about your customers (like when their last support call was along with a description of the problem)
- Eliminating the need to create periodic reports (like sales call sheets, etc. – Most CRM systems should eliminate the need for these reports by proper usage of activities/history and opportunities)
- Eliminating having to update multiple sources of data (before implementing enterprise CRM the average company has at least 4 sources for customer data including accounting, service, spreadsheets, access databases and Microsoft Outlook)
You follow this up by teaching your users on the proper usage of the software and how it fits into your process. Then you wait a few weeks and you teach them again. After awhile, you teach them again. The goal is to make the software a natural extension of your user.
Finally, you make usage a requirement. You can’t have some people using the system and others doing their own thing. Your customers are important, and proper setup and usage of a CRM system can provide you with irreplaceable insights into your customers; their buying habits, their values, and their loyalty patterns. After all, most business experience between 15% and 40% annual customer attrition. Your CRM system may make all the difference in the world to your bottom line.