The disposable world of CRM

The disposable world of CRM

It has long been said that The United States of America is a throw-away society. For years, possibly decades, rather than fixing something, we toss it and purchase a replacement. You don’t believe me? Simply do a google search for TV Repair in your area. You could do the same for microwave repair, cell phone repair, etc.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying some people don’t seek to repair a broken item, and that no TV repair companies exist, I’m simply saying repairing versus replacing is happening less and less. I believe there are several reasons for this phenomenon: Continue reading →

Who is your real customer?

Who is your real customer?

 As manufacturers put together their marketing plan for next year they often find themselves in a bit of a quandary in defining who their “real” customer is. More-often-than-not manufactures have little direct contact with the end user of their product. They sell through a distributor who sells to a purchasing agent, neither of whom are the end-user of their product. This makes putting together a marketing plan rather difficult, especially if the manufacturer’s product does not end up on a retail shelf. Continue reading →

The most common excuse for not using CRM

The most common excuse for not using CRM

Excuse for Not using CRMWhen we read quotes like, “It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in an activity trap, in the busy-ness of life… It is possible to be busy – very busy – without being very effective,” by Stephen Covey, we sometimes dismiss it as “that doesn’t happen here.” However, I have seen this over and over again with CRM implementations.

A company will implement a CRM system and mandate usage and the population of a lot of data by their sales force. This usually results in push-back. Salespeople will say things like “I’m too busy closing sales to worry about CRM,” or “I don’t have time to ‘feed the beast’ I’m knocking on doors.” You get the picture, and if you implemented CRM, you’ve probably heard it too. Continue reading →

3 Crucial Business Trends to Plan for in 2014

3 Crucial Business Trends to Plan for in 2014

Business professors Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad have written about an experiment that was conducted with a group of monkeys.  It is a vivid story of failure.

Four monkeys were placed in a room that had a tall pole in the center.  Suspended from the top of that pole was a bunch of bananas.  One of the hungry monkeys started climbing the pole to get something to eat, but just as he reached out to grab a banana, he was doused with a torrent of cold water.  Squealing, he scampered down the pole and abandoned his attempt to feed himself.  Each monkey made a similar attempt, and each one was drenched with cold water.  After making several attempts, they finally gave up. Continue reading →

Growth By Accident?

Growth By Accident?

Richard James invented the slinky by accident (read the slinky story: http://www.slinkyprint.com/slinky_history.htm) and it became a wildly successful toy over the past 40 years.  Although some things are found by accident and become extremely successful; I am sure that is not the way you want to run your business!  It is critical for your sales and marketing force to know whether their approach is effective or not.  Continue reading →

Great Expectations for Outside Sales usage of CRM

Great Expectations for Outside Sales usage of CRM

Setting realistic goals is critical for a successful CRM implementation.  However, just as critical is having realistic expectations.  What’s the difference?  A goal is what you hope to achieve through the implementation of a CRM system, an expectation is the anticipation of an occurrence.  For example, a company may have the goal of increasing quote conversion by 5%.  The expectation is that the sales people will enter their quotes/opportunities into the CRM system and keep them up to date.

Over the last 15 years, I have had the privilege of consulting with 100s of companies as they set realistic goals and expectations for CRM.  The goal of the next few paragraphs is to help my readers understand what is realistic in the realm of user expectations of your outside sales representatives. Continue reading →

Using CRM to Eliminate the Dreaded Forecasting Meeting

It’s that time of year.  It probably should have happened last month, or even two months ago, but your company, like all the others has been postponing the dreaded annual forecasting meeting.  If you operate on a calendar budget, there have been meetings scheduled and canceled and rescheduled and canceled and now rescheduled again with the red exclamation mark next to them for the meeting that must happen.  2013 Forecast and Budget Planning (horror music playing in the background).

  It’s the meeting where most commonly the senior finance staff generated a number the company has to hit next year to keep everyone employed and the stakeholders or owners happy.  Now, sales must lock themselves in a room and figure out how they are going to achieve this number.  Is that as backwards as it sounds?  Indeed it is.


What typically happens is senior finance staff looks at sales reports (post sale data) from previous years, adds an arbitrary percentage increase and then says, find it.  “We don’t care where, we don’t care how, find it.”  Aligning that arbitrary increase to top performing accounts makes the budgeting process for the next year more efficient, but rarely is it accurate.  Is there a way to eliminate this senseless charade?  There is.


Use your CRM to demonstrate what would be required in time and resources to achieve the stated increase in new accounts and increased sales on existing accounts.  With CRM you will have pre-sale data that conveys actual effort to closed sales.  How long is a sales cycle? How many sales have to be in the pipeline, by when, to achieve the magic number that has been provided? Is it even possible? If not, what is required to make it possible? How many new product presentations were given to existing customers last year to drive increased sales? How many more will be required to achieve the new target? Has that number of new products been scheduled for creation and distribution? How many incoming leads were created last year through marketing efforts? How many of those leads generated new accounts and orders?  How many will be required to achieve the new target?


Locking sales management in a room with an arbitrary sales percentage increase and asking them to put their heads on the butcher block for their share of that number is NOT logical forecasting.  Use CRM software to measure pre-sale activity and base sales growth on the resources required to support that growth.  Everyone wants to succeed. Everyone in the company wants to increase sales.  With pre-sale reporting provided by CRM software everyone in the company can align resources to the new sales targets and everyone can work together to achieve success!

CRM is CRM, right?

I have been asked the same question several times in the last week or so, so I thought I should blog about it. The question, “What makes Resolv different?”


So here goes … First, I have been working in the CRM industry since 1998.  That’s right, I have been doing nothing but CRM consulting and CRM implementation for over 13 years.  Over the course of time, I learned a few things, but one thing really stands out.  That one thing is:

Implementing CRM is not success.

SalesLogix CRM Success

What I mean is that when I started in the CRM industry, I started working for a SalesLogix Business partner.  This partner would sell CRM as a need that all companies had.  A company would bite, and the goal was to implement CRM.  We would successfully implement CRM, and we had many successful failures.  We failed because implementing CRM software should never be “the goal;” it is part of the solution.   This means for an implantation to be a success, businesses need to define what need or needs that CRM software will play a role in solving.

When I started Resolv, I vowed that we would not implement successful failures.  If a company’s goal is simply to implement CRM, Resolv is most likely not the right partner for them.  However, if a company is looking to implement CRM in response to real business needs and goals, we are the CRM company for them. 

It’s rather simple; our goal is to help our customers to be unbelievably successful! We implement CRM software in alignment with solid business strategies.  We understand that CRM software, process, and culture all must be in alignment with business goals for a CRM implementation to be a success.

Luke Russell 

Resolv, Inc.

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Can CRM Software Improve Efficiency?

Efficiency:   According to dictionary.reference.com efficiency is “accomplishment of or ability to accomplish a job with a minimum expenditure of time and effort: The assembly line increased industry’s efficiency.  

With that definition, sure, CRM Software can improve efficiency.  Unfortunately, the efficiency comes with a cost.  However, notice that efficiency is not defined as “doing more with less”.  Let me break it down using the assembly line reference made by dictionary.reference.com.

CRM can improve efficiency, but not like an assembly line.

Prior to an assembly line, an automobile could be made by one person.  True that person may only make one auto every 180 days, but a single person could in effect start an auto manufacturing plant and run it himself.  With an assembly line method, while being more efficient according to the dictionary definition, it takes 100 plus people (according to some articles, thousands of people) to make one automobile.  Certainly, the assembly line is creating many more autos per year, and even more than the same number of people could create each working on an individual automobile, but the efficiency did not come without a heavy cost.  Millions of dollars must be spent and thousands of employees must hired and trained before the first car comes off of the line.

The same is true with CRM Software in relation to sales and customer service.  CRM Software can help you to know more about your customers and remind you to take action on that knowledge.  However, in order for this to happen, processes must be designed and implemented and training given to all users.  Data must be compiled and kept up-to-date.  Users must use the system and complete the action as recommended by the system.  A lot of time and effort will go into the initial implementation and setup of the CRM system before a single benefit is seen. 

Ultimately, it is my belief that a CRM software system can increase efficiency, but it is also my belief that a CRM system should be implemented because a company desires to improve customer service and the customer experience through a broader understanding of the customer’s needs and purchase patterns.  Remember this when implementing CRM Software:  Superior Customer Service is Inefficient!

Thousands of companies world-wide are reaping benefits from CRM Software, including increased efficiency.  These companies each understood and committed to:

 

  • The investment of time and money
  • The importance of training
  • The mandatory usage of the software by all involved
  • The commitment to continuous process improvement brought about by a better understanding of their customer

 

Much like companies implementing assembly lines in the early 1900s, companies with successful CRM implementations focused on the long term gain offered by CRM Software.  These gains include such things as:

 

  • A more thorough understanding of their customer
  • Improved communication with the customer
  • A proactive approach to sales and customer service
  • Automated processes for prospecting and sales 

 

Luke Russell 

Resolv, Inc.

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A Faster Horse

A quote that is widely attributed to Henry Ford is the focus of today’s blog post.  The quote is as follows, “If I were to ask my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse” –Henry Ford.  Whether this is actually a quote from Henry Ford is not my point, the point is that oftentimes self diagnosis and prescription does not return the proper results.
 

The Value of a Consultant

Let’s walk through this.  Two brothers own an ice cave and deliver ice to everyone in the town.  They have a horse and cart to deliver the ice.  The cart can hold enough ice for three deliveries, at which point they have to return to the cave to get more ice.  Seeing that there is only so much they can do with their slow horse and cart, they determine that a faster horse is the solution, and go out shopping for a faster horse.
 
This example is overly simplified, but it is repeated thousands of times every day.  People look at their problem, ask one question, and make a determination as to what will best solve the problem.
 
It may be that the brothers even brainstormed other possible resolutions:
  • Get a bigger cart (and return to the cave less often)
  • Get another horse and cart (and double their delivery capacity)
  • Offer discounts for those customers that wish to pick up their ice.
However, it is highly unlikely that either of the brothers in the ice business would have thought about inventing a truck.
 
Our solution to the problem is based upon our knowledge and we limit all resolutions to what we know.  Often we force a resolution to work because we cannot see any other possible solution.  This is where a consultant comes in.  A consultant adds to your knowledge and helps you to expand the possible resolutions to the problem.  Hopefully, a consultant will blow you away with their creative response to the situation.  The true value of a consultant lies in not just offering the solution that the customer is looking for, but in digging to the heart of the issue and providing the most effective resolution.
 
 

Luke Russell 

Resolv, Inc.

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