I have been consulting on CRM (CRM best practices, CRM user adoption, and CRM implementations) for over 13 years. During this time, I have learned a thing or two about CRM. I have spoken in over 70 seminars on CRM covering such topics as: Avoiding CRM Pitfalls, Realizing ROI in a CRM implementation, Improving Forecasting, Increasing Customer Retention, etc. The list is quite long, actually. So why am I telling you this? Because, over the past 13 years I have seen many customers successfully harness my knowledge, and the knowledge of my team, to their great profit; I have also witnessed many others who truthfully didn’t gain anything from a relationship with Resolv. Which brings me to my point, how can you harness the value of a consultant?
First, I believe that a company needs to understand the difference between a "consultant" and a "value added reseller". According to Webster a consultant is "one who gives professional advice or services : expert"; likewise, according to Wikipedia "A value-added reseller (VAR) is a company that adds features or services to an existing product, then resells it (usually to end-users) as an integrated product or complete ‘turn-key’ solution. This practice occurs commonly in the electronics industry, where, for example, a VAR might bundle a software application with supplied hardware." Unfortunately these two definitions do not help to draw a difference and there-in lies the inability for some companies to truly harness the knowledge of a consultant.
So, what is the difference? In my own words (and in relation to CRM) a VAR adds value to their clients by implementing CRM to meet a company’s self-prescribed expectations and guidelines. Everything they do is related to the product or products they are implementing. While a consultant may do this, they also do many of the following:
- Seek to understand the current business and user culture and make recommendations for change related to CRM and CRM system roll-out and integration
- Review current processes and relay the need to change processes as systems change with recommendations for an improved process
- Actively seek to avoid known areas of failure and major pitfalls through change management
- Ultimately, a consultant assesses the weaknesses of an organization (in relation to a CRM implementation) and offers recommendations and solutions to address the weaknesses. Often a consultant is called upon to assist in implementing the recommendations.
Knowing this, it is easy to see why some companies do not receive value from a consultant. Many companies are simply looking only for a VAR to implement a list of items developed internally, rather than have someone consult with them as to the viability of their ideas and assist them with best practices. They do this believing that they know their business better (which they do) and they have a solid understanding of what CRM is (most likely not the case); however, they have a fear of change, so they simply seek to implement a CRM system with as little change to their processes, user experience, and existing methodologies as possible. Therefore, in their reluctance to change, or their fear of change, companies avoid the process and culture sides of a CRM implementation and simply implement features and functions, basically keeping the Mark Twain adage alive: "If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got." The bottom line: Simply implementing CRM software is not doing something differently.
The goal of a consultant is to ensure that you don’t always do what you’ve always done in relation to CRM. But change can be frightening, and is therefore avoided by many companies; even change for the better. So, companies rely on internal resources (who have got them to where they are now) to implement CRM and the change related to CRM, rather than following the advice of an expert who has multiple times more knowledge of the way to successfully implement CRM software for maximum impact. Ultimately, A CRM consultant understands the roles process and culture play in the overall implementation of a CRM system and recommends the best course of action for a successful implementation.