I cannot remember how many times I have sat in meetings with sales management discussing their need to see what their sales team is doing. They want sales call and activity reports accounting for every minute of a salesperson’s day, especially for out-of-office days. This is usually done in one or a series of spreadsheets, until they implement CRM. Then, it just makes sense to them to implement the same thing in the CRM system: 100% accounting of everything the sales person does. Their employees ultimately perform the required tasks, not out of belief in the CRM system, but out of fear. When asked, most employees think CRM is just a leash used by management to account for their time.
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Recently I was sitting in a cigar lounge enjoying a conversation with a professional-looking couple in town from San Diego. They had come to Green Bay to attend the Packers/Chargers game. Through billowing puffs of smoke, the question came up, as it typically does, “what do you do?” I replied with my standard, fifteen second answer, “I facilitate the adoption and implementation of CRM systems.” “I’ve heard of CRM,” he blurted, “that’s an electronic account list.”
I was aghast. I thought this guy was a professional. Surely he didn’t just say that CRM is an “electronic account list.” This man, a professional, or so I thought, turned out to be a CRM redneck. I was certain the next words out of his mouth were going to be “yuuuup,” and “get’r done.” All I thought about the rest of the evening was Jeff Foxworthy type jokes, except that instead of, “you might be a redneck,” jokes, they were “you might not understand CRM,” jokes.
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.
There is a story about a farmer who had a dog. One day the farmer’s neighbor came over to borrow a tool, and while they were talking the farmer’s dog was howling. As they talked, the dog continued to howl. It was distracting to the neighbor, and he was finding it hard to carry on the conversation with the farmer while the dog was howling. Finally he asked the farmer, “what’s wrong with your dog?” To which the farmer replied, “he’s lying on a nail.” This puzzled the neighbor, and he asked, “why doesn’t he move?” The farmer’s response: “he’s comfortable.”
The topic CRM (Customer Relationship Management) success is riddled with anecdotes and do-it-yourself tips for ensuring that success. My simple advice is “get a trusted adviser.” It’s like I always say, “even the king has advisers.”
When 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.
I have blogged in the past about business strategy, and C-level buy-in. I’ve been on my soap-box talking about reasonable expectations of sales people. I’ve even been so bold as to say that many of your current CRM issues are not technical issues. This blog is going to take a bit of a turn.
Subtitle: Does the Cloud Have A Magical Silver Lining?
More companies are looking to the cloud for a fast implementation of CRM. Recently even Sage PLC (the makers of Sage CRM) announced they are moving to SalesForce.com (http://www.sage.com/media/press-releases/2015/02/26/the-sage-group-plc-announces-global-agreement-with-salesforce). When confronted with the news, my brother and work colleague commented, “aaah, but the Cloud has a magical silver lining that fixes broken processes too.”
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.
CRM companies and vendors alike like to paint a rosy picture that if you implement CRM you will see more sales, longer customer retention, and higher customer satisfaction ratings. The list of CRM promises is endless. In fact, some online CRM systems purport that CRM is so simple you can “do-it-yourself” for just $120 per month per user. Simply upload your customer list and you will have CRM success.
Companies love technical change! It’s usually quick, and it is simply a matter of people, within an organization, putting in place solutions for which they know the answers. This is very true with CRM. We believe we know the answers, so we simply need to implement software as the solution. Once CRM software is implemented, we simply need to change people’s behaviors and BINGO! we have CRM. Therefore, when we face issues with CRM, we focus on modifying the software, improving processes, providing training to improve skills, and doing the right things right.
It is fitting that I am writing this blog during the football season, because I enjoy playing fantasy football. In fact, I enjoy it so much I am in three different leagues on two different fantasy football websites (NFL.com and ESPN.com). While both websites have their good and bad points, they both have one thing in common: multiple ways to access my team! For both they have a full-blown website, a mobile version of the website, and an app for my Android phone and iPad.
In their first implementation of a CRM system, many companies implement software with the expectation that their people will use it and will naturally work it into their processes. Immediately after the implementation, they are elated; people used it! Success! Then the demands of their users’ everyday lives hit and CRM takes a back-burner to “getting work done.” After a couple of years of haphazard usage of CRM, nobody trusts the data, and the CRM system is deemed a failure.
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:
So, you’re thinking about switching your CRM system for another one. Maybe you’ve outgrown your current CRM system. Maybe you’re looking to lower recurring payments. Maybe your users don’t use your current system and blame it on the software.
Whatever the reason you are considering switching, CRM switches can be a very successful boost to your company or huge flop. Considering the following will help with the transition and hopefully tip the scale to the success side:
1)If you are planning on devoting 90% of your time and budget to selecting and implementing CRM software, you probably shouldn't be implementing CRM.
This point is nothing new. You have heard it over and over again, CRM is a BUSINESS STRATEGY. It’s about focusing on your customer by aligning your culture, process and technology. In fact, if you have read any of my blogs, you will see that I believe CRM is only about 10% technology, the rest is culture and process. So, if 90% of your implementation is NOT ABOUT TECHNOLOGY, for a successful CRM implementation, you need to spend considerably more time on process and culture.
I have been preaching for years that only about 10% of CRM is about technology; the rest is culture (60%) and process (30%). This means that the traditional method of software procurement (typically an RFQ process) is inconsequential in determining CRM success. There are three simple reasons for this:
Your Internally-Devised Solution Will Look A Lot Like Your Existing Solution
I have found that the most successful CRM implementations happen when Resolv is involved early on. This isn’t because we are mystical wizards, it’s because, as CRM facilitators, we understand what a CRM implementation will do to your sales force, your customers, and your processes. We have first-hand experience, knowing what has worked in the past, and what hasn’t. We can help you sidestep many mishaps that only come through years of experience. We can guide you as to where to focus your money to achieve the greatest return on investment.
Now John Henry was a mighty man, yes sir. He was born a slave in the 1840's but was freed after the war. He went to work as a steel-driver for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad, don't ya know. And John Henry was the strongest, the most powerful man working the rails.
John Henry, he would spend his day's drilling holes by hitting thick steel spikes into rocks with his faithful shaker crouching close to the hole, turning the drill after each mighty blow. There was no one who could match him, though many tried.
This blog talks about business that are in the condition of "Quick Sand". They look good on the surface, but there is constant movement beneath the surface that agitates and upsets the continuity. Let me start by talking about real quick sand...
First What is Real Quick Sand?
Quick sand is not a particular type of sand but a condition that is happening to the sand and is not dangerous.
The image is indelible to all moviegoers. The Western bad guy takes a misstep in the desert and falls into a patch of trembling quicksand. Just out of the reach of the nearby tree, the struggling outlaw is inexorably sucked slowly but surely to his doom in the merciless quagmire. Could it happen to you?
Whether you have a CRM system in place, or are looking to implement CRM, remember the 4 Es and you CRM success is almost assured. Ignore them, and the only thing you will be getting from your CRM system is complaints and blame.
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.
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.
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.
On average, your sales people spend less than two hours a day selling. This is according to Mark Ellwood, President of Pace Productivity Inc. (Mark’s report is here.) Paul Vinogradov agrees with Mark in his post. In fact, a simple goole search on how sales people spend their time will tell you that your sales people most likely spend the majority of their time on non-sales activities.
Let me ask you a simple question. Would you say that using your CRM system is easier than riding a bike? Is it easier than driving a car? Most of the time when I ask this, the answer to both questions is no, CRM is definitely more difficult than riding a bike or driving a car.
I recently logged into my health care provider’s web site to look at test results and realized that there was a lot of missing information. This caused me to wonder if my doctor had access to all of the information, or if he was making his diagnosis based on partial information.
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.
After working in the CRM world for 15 years, I continue to be amazed at CRM and the direction it takes. Besides being a fantastic “customer database,” CRM is critical for forecasting, service, and marketing. Social CRM is now critical tool, and CRM without a mobile component is “so last-year”.
Do You Have the Internal Resources To Fully Implement a CRM Strategy?
I absolutely LOVE it when, in my prospecting efforts, I come across a CRM champion. In my terms, a CRM champion is someone who understands the value and possibilities of CRM and more importantly understands what CRM could mean for the business for all future decision making. CRM champions are usually on a mission to educate others in the company on the benefits of CRM and create excitement about it.
My background is working for large manufacturing companies who produce Consumer Goods. In that industry we call the end user “the consumer”. By definition a consumer is one who “uses up” something or is “engrossed” or “devours”. Devour. I like that word. It’s a passionate word. In the CRM industry, we want nothing more than for the users to devour the product we provide. We want them to “use it up” everyday and come back the next day insisting to use it again.
It is not uncommon for us, in the CRM industry, to hear from prospects and customers that certain individuals in the company like doing things their way and they are not going to change. In a business that utilizes CRM, that could be a real problem. It’s a culture problem.
Whose Responsibility Is CRM?
If this question were asked in a senior management meeting, depending on their individual base knowledge of the acronym CRM, there may be a very wide array of answers to this question. Company politics may play a role here too. Depending on the culture of an organization additional responsibility could be perceived as a great thing, or it could be perceived as a burden. So allow me to reword this question. Who wants to be responsible for customer relationship management?
What Is Your Business Strategy In Relation to CRM?
Without a doubt we live in a society that has come to expect instant gratification. The advancements of technology continue to feed this expectation and our tolerance for dissatisfaction in these technological advances is minimizing every day. A practical example: Apps for I pads (I products). How many times have you searched the App store for something, downloaded the freebie only to be disappointed because it didn’t do exactly what you wanted exactly the way you wanted, so you deleted it just as quickly? So, your frustrated it wasn’t right, and it was FREE! Hmmm? Wow, we expect a lot don’t we?
How Do You Define CRM (Customer Relationship Management) In Your Organization?
I talk to businesses every day that are either considering purchasing CRM software or are considering purchasing a different CRM software because the first one they purchased isn’t working the way they hoped it would. Before you do anything else, STOP!, and read this!
Many times in my career I have managed people. Sometimes small teams and sometimes large ones. I believe management, like most things in life, is a skill that is developed and honed over time. Much like parenting, you want your employees to respect and trust your judgment enough to emulate it in your absence. You want them to want to succeed and do their very best whether you are there to see it them do it or not. And like parenting, sometimes those hopes are more easily fulfilled than others.
My son is in the hospital this week, inpatient. In this situation we are the customer. It may be a specific industry with different terminology, but ultimately we are the customer. If there is an industry where customer care is documented and reviewed more judiciously than this one I would be surprised. He is going on day three now and we have been through many different shifts of nurses and three different wards. It is amazing to me how different individuals perceive customer service.
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.
I have read that visual learners represent 65% of the population. I believe myself to be one of them. I process information much faster when I can read it myself or better yet read and view associated graphics. I imagine that this attraction to visual stimuli extends to many areas including my fashion choices, my home décor choices, the car I drive and the type of technology I use. I’ll admit, I have to like what I see. I won’t dig deeper to learn more if the criteria for my initial visual assessment (which we mostly make up as we go along) isn’t met. Apparently 65% of the population is the same way. That means a lot of us make product selections this way, whether we realize it or not.
A golden rule of writing is that you are never supposed to write about your family members. Well, I’m going to break that rule, ever so subtly, to make a very important point about the width and depth of communication that CRM software can provide a business organization.
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).
I had to call out the cable technician this week because my internet, which has been progressively running slower and slower, reached a point where I couldn’t stand it anymore. He did a wonderful job and did some rewiring inside the house, explaining there was an old splitter that was picking up and sending noise through the lines and messing with the cable signal. After he was finished my internet was just flying compared to what I was used to! He explained that if it ever slows down like that again to call them sooner rather than later and that too often their customers have signal issues and just accept the slower speeds without question, because they don’t know they can have better service. They believe inferior is acceptable.
I attended a leadership seminar in the CRM software industry where the expert speaker made the comment, “If you just copy you will always be behind. The only way to get ahead is to focus on not best practices, but next practices.”
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.)
In my previous article, CRM Implementation – Part 1 – Process Evaluation, I addressed the importance of understanding and defining your existing customer facing processes and being able to define and track the results of those processes.
Process Evaluation is capturing the “what is” of our tactical daily business. Through that process evaluation you hopefully found a few areas in your processes that needed some fine tuning and created greater efficiencies for your organization. Perhaps, you were able to define to someone in the company who does the same thing every day without question, why they do what they do because you formally defined the expected result of one of your company’s processes. Perhaps defining the process and the expected result forced you to add some very valuable steps that will allow you to quantify your efforts in the future.
As I get older I find that I tend to be very introspective about being efficient and effective. At least it seems that way.
In my twenties, I don’t remember giving too much consideration to overall daily or weekly accomplishments. I don’t think your mind works that way in your twenties. You’re always looking ahead to what’s next or to what you might be missing. Digressing for the sake of self evaluation does not come natural at that stage in life I suspect.
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.
We are currently preparing to attend a local tradeshow for manufactures. Tradeshow preparation can be a little daunting. You want to make a grand impression. You want to be memorable. You want to reach your target audience. You want to make new contacts and gather new leads. Most importantly you want the effort to result in profitable business. How does one translate all of those goals and actionable results? The trick really is being able to clearly define who it is you are talking to. Is the person standing in front of you simply a contact or are they a lead? Are they truly a prospect? What is the difference?