A huge success.

While Resolv will be celebrating our tenth year anniversary this year, it is kind of fun to look back at what we have accomplished.  We have had many successes over the last 10 years, and it is exciting to see some of them published. 


Here are three recent success stories that we have had with Sage SalesLogix customers:

 

“We really appreciated Resolv stepping back and looking at our big picture. Sage CRM SalesLogix is now a usable and vital tool for our business.”

–Karen Roscoe, Product Manager, Bruker AXS

To view the whole story:  http://www.resolvcrm.com/images/stories/success/success%20story%20bruker%20axs.pdf

 

“Our business is based on relationships and Sage SalesLogix is the foundation. We have access to an enormous amount of data that allows us to provide an outstanding experience for our customers. Resolv has been instrumental in getting us where we are today.”

–Jason Kestler, President and CEO Kestler Financial Group

To view the whole story:  http://www.resolvcrm.com/images/stories/success/success%20story%20kestler%20financial%20group.pdf

 

“This was one of the smoothest implementations I have been a part of. The end result was so tailored to our business that everyone took to it quickly.”

–Ken Deering, Director of Customer Service and Facilities, Bay Tek Games

To view the whole story:  http://www.resolvcrm.com/images/stories/success/success%20story%20bay%20tek%20games.pdf

 

 Luke Russell 

Resolv, Inc.

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One big key to CRM implementation success and usage

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.

 

Luke Russell 

Resolv, Inc.

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Back to the future … SaaS vs on-premises CRM

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. 

 

Cost: 

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.

 

Infrastructure:

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. 

Integration:

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:

  1. Initial discussions of needs and layout of the project plan and goals
  2. Data source cleansing, data import, duplicate removal
  3. Customizations and configurations to match your needs
  4. Testing
  5. User education

Connectivity:

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.

Conclusion:

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.

 

Luke Russell 

Resolv, Inc.

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Where Does Loyalty Begin?

As I prepare for tomorrow’s seminar I am reminded of the similarities between a relationship-driven sales process and the dating/marriage cycle.

 

If we assume, in this comparison, that marriage is akin to the first sale, when the prospect moves to “customer” stage, then we can also assume, much like dating, that loyalty to one another begins prior to the marriage (first sale) step.  How many of you would be married right now if there was no commitment from your spouse prior to the marriage?  Probably very few! 

Assuming the pre-marriage relationship cycle is first date, courting, and engagement (or lead recognition, qualification/discovery, verbal commitment in business), I think I’m safe to say that somewhere in the middle of courting, and definitely before engagement we expect fidelity from our partner.  In fact we do things that encourage fidelity in the relationship.  First, we talk about it; second, we agree that, for the time-being, we believe that we are good together; and finally, we act with that fidelity in mind.

Should it be any different in business?  No!  We need to start talking and acting like we are looking for loyalty in business.  How do we do this, prior to the sale?  With actions like:

  • Seek to understand the problem
  • Make your prospects problem your problem
  • Talk about your loyal customers
  • Talk as if you are already “together”
  • Listen more than you talk
  • Don’t sell your service/product but offer them as solutions to a problem

 Much like personal relationships, there are things that we do that let our prospects know we are not serious about looking for a loyal relationship.  Many companies fall prey to the transaction sale.  Actions similar to the following show that you are more interested in a transaction than a relationship:

  • Discounting your product or service
  • Selling features and functions verses benefits
  • Leading the sales process with a demo of your product/service before even seeking to understand the problem
  • Offering incentives to use your product/service

Loyalty starts far before the “sale” and your words and actions speak volumes on how much you value loyalty.  Likewise, if you start out with transaction-driven sales, you should not expect loyalty from the prospect once they become a customer.

 Luke Russell 

Resolv, Inc.

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CRM for Non-profit

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 costs of doing-it-yourself).

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:

 

  • Donors
  • Gifts
  • Memberships
  • Capital Campaigns
  • Alumni
  • Partnerships

 

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.

Luke Russell 

Resolv, Inc.

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Maximizing your usage of CRM software

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?

Maximizing CRM usage

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.

Luke Russell 

Resolv, Inc.

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CRM software benefits

Often I am asked how CRM software can help various departments with their CRM business strategy.  Here is a short list of the benefits CRM software can provide your departments:


Sales:

 

  • Provide greater visibility into the sales pipeline
  • More efficiently and accurately report on sales pipeline  
  • Better track probability of close, products, lead source, status and competitors
  • Eliminate the need to browse for exceptions by automating alerting users as to the exceptions (for example, quotes requiring follow-up and customers that have not ordered in xxx days)
  • Reduce attrition through fading customer alerts
  • Qualify prospects with a standard qualification process
  • Manage customer and prospect relationships from virtually anywhere via the web and wireless devices including BlackBerry and Pocket PCs
  • Increase average customer value by increasing the number of orders per year and the size of orders

 

Marketing:

 

  • Streamline marketing and sales campaigns 
  • Create customized marketing campaigns
  • Better analyze ROI of marketing campaigns
  • View campaign results in real time to better analyze performance of campaigns in progress
  • Evaluate forecasted vs. actual return for each lead source, region or media type
  • Automate distribution of leads
  • Automate lead follow-up
  • Coordinate between marketing and sales

 

Service:

 

  • Quickly resolve customer questions, issues and requests
  • Reduce cost of each customer transaction
  • Provide everybody in your company with access to the same customer data
  • Develop a knowledge base for future problem solving

 

In addition to the department specific benefits, you can also improve process and efficiency throughout your organization:

Process:

 

  • Automate the sales cycle
  • Standardizes and automates processes (such as sales processes based on product line, deal size, territory or lead type)
  • Ensures that procedures and processes are being followed
  • Standardization of quoting practices
  • Increased quote conversion through automated follow-up and best practices
  • Reduce the amount of time spent to generate a quote

 

Efficiency:

 

  • Shorten new employee ramp-up time with data visibility in one place
  • Save time by eliminating multiple sources of data and auto populating all systems at the same time
  • Provide a single view of the customer that allows everyone to view all interactions with the customer and the customers purchasing behaviors

 

 

 

Comparison shopping for CRM software

This blog post looks at the hows and ifs of comparison shopping for CRM software…

 

CRM comparisonIf you have read many of my blog posts (like “But wait, there’s more”), you will know my belief on CRM:  CRM is a business strategy, not a piece of software.  However, CRM software is a tool that can help you with your business strategy, and there comes a time in the life of most businesses (especially those that have a well-defined business strategy) where the purchase of CRM software becomes important. 

Typically, when at this stage, companies ask various vendors for demos and quotes and then work to compare each.  The problem lies in the fact that not all CRM software systems are the same, and not all quotes provided from vendors cover the same things.   For example one vendor will provide a quote for software, another for software plus installation, and yet another for software with installation and data conversion.  Another vendor may quote on configurations and customizations as well.  How do you know which to choose, since the prices are all over the board and there is no consistency from one vendor to another on the services portion of the implementation?

First off all, let me state that if a vendor is looking to simply sell you software and not help with the configuration/customization and data conversion, they are doing you a disservice.  They are basically leaving the setup and configuration to you, who I am assuming is not a CRM expert.  This will drastically delay your ability to receive a quick return on your investment, and will possibly frustrate you to the point of exhaustion.  If you haven’t read my blog on “Do-it-yourself, or not?” it will help you to understand the pitfalls of doing things on your own.

Next, as you are reviewing the quote, be cautious if your vendor is not including anything for configuration/customization.  I have been implementing CRM systems for 13 years now, and have yet to see an out-of-the-box implementation, even in phase one.  The customizations are not always extensive, but they do exist.  It is unrealistic to think that a CRM software package will track all the right data and function exactly like your company does out-of-the-box.  Usually, vendors that do not disclose customization costs in the first estimate are either unfamiliar with matching CRM software to their client’s business strategy, or they are afraid to share numbers because it may price them out of the sale.

Finally, do not be afraid to discuss the various quotes with a vendor or vendors.  If you have a vendor that stands out, and that has demonstrated the ability to understand and solve your business issues with a particular software tool, but feel that they are not priced accordingly with another vendor, it is a good idea to ask them to help you compare the two estimates.  While they may not be able to fully interpret some other vendors quote, they can give you some insights and questions to ask for more clarification.

Ultimately, it is a difficult thing to comparison shop various vendors and different CRM software applications.  After reviewing quotes and looking at demos, it usually comes down to a gut feeling.  Which vendor seemed to understand your business needs (not features and functions), and which vendor do you feel the most comfortable trusting with your customers and your financial future? 

Luke Russell 

Resolv, Inc.

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Process matters.

What I learned from a trip to Nicaragua …

Sunday I returned from a trip to Esteli, Nicaragua.  I went there to tour the Perdomo Cigar plantation and cigar factory.  The tour was amazing, and what I learned about tobacco; everything from the growth and harvesting to the drying and curing to the rolling of cigars; was all fantastic.  I cannot believe the amount of work that goes into each cigar that I smoke. 

However; being a process person, it made me think that there must be a better way to grow tobacco and make cigars.  Oh, I’m not talking about automating the rolling of the cigars, as nothing beats a good hand-rolled cigar; but the process could be improved, even though it much of it is a manual process.

Let me explain.  I have heard it said that each tobacco leaf is touched a minimum of 300 times before it ends up in the hands of the consumer in the form of a cigar.  After seeing the process, I think this may be an understatement.  It is touched, and moved, and stacked, and piled, and moved, etc.  The entire process is crazy!  What is even more crazy is that there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the layout of the buildings or the flow within some of the buildings. 

I think that there is much we could learn from my tour of the cigar manufacturing process.  As you evaluate your own processes consider the following:

1)      We need to look for ways to minimize touches.  Take a look at the times that you have to pick something up or move it, what can be done to reduce this?

2)      We need to look for better flow from start to finish.  Review the process flow.  Is your space laid out to maximize production by minimizing steps?

3)      We need to determine if automation can help.  Are there parts of the process that automation can help to improve without affecting the final outcome?

I can’t help to think that this same factory in Nicaragua that makes 10,000,000 hand rolled cigars a year could increase production to over 15,000,000 a year just by simplifying some of the process and automating other parts; while holding to the hand-rolled standard that makes the Perdomo Cigar a great smoke time-after-time. 

Luke Russell 

Resolv, Inc.

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ROI in a CRM implementation, fact or fiction?

This blog post will be a quick look at ROI and will hopefully help you know the role ROI in a CRM implementation.

ROI, or return on investment, is the concept of how much money will be saved or made based on making a change.  Here are a three quick examples of ROI that we have seen from customers over the last couple of weeks:

 

  • Gross Sales:  It is estimated that if all quotes were captured in a systematic manner and followed up on in a like manner, with follow up information captured for future visibility and consideration for subsequent quotation opportunities, sales would increase between 10-20% at absolute minimum.
  • Sales Time: It is estimated that sales spends a tremendous amount of time “chasing” ad copy.  Potentially as much as 50% of their day can be “chasing” information needed to hit a deadline.  Ideally, automatic reminders should go to clients advising them of an approaching deadline, freeing up the sales people to sell.  If sales does spend 50% of their time at this task, and it could be reduced, even by half, annual sales could potentially be increased by an additional $325,000 a year if that time was dedicated to achieving new sales.    
  • Customer Communication: ABC Company anticipates that systematic improved customer communication all the way through the manufacturing process to shipping and delivery of the finished good could dramatically impact profitability. They believe that improved logistical processes and practices could impact the company with combined cost savings and increased sales due to customer satisfaction by nearly $150,000 annually.

 

On our website you will find greater list of areas of potential ROI in a CRM implementation.

These are all great ROI points and each can be achieved with CRM software playing a role.  However, CRM software is a tool to help provide accurate, up-to-date information, but software alone will not achieve the ROI required.  Changes will need to be made to current processes and culture as well. 

Usually ROI is used as a means to prioritize your CRM implementation.  We recommend implementing the areas of CRM that will best help you achieve your greatest points of ROI in your first couple of phases of the CRM implementation.

Which brings me to the final part of this post, can ROI be achieved and when can you expect results?

The answer to the question on achieving ROI is a resounding “YES it can be achieved, but …” you can only measure ROI where you have initial data to compare to.  For example, if your ROI point is to increase quote conversion by 20% through automated follow-up, you can only measure the results of a strategic CRM implementation if you have solid quote conversion numbers prior to making the change.  Not knowing your data prior will only result in a gut-feeling as to whether it was actually achieved.  One thing that can help is to monitor Sales prior to and after your strategic implementation of CRM. 

The answer to the question of when to expect ROI is a little easier to answer.  Implemented properly, with technology, culture and process in line, you should expect to see ROI after the six months.  Why six months?  Because a strategic implementation requires not only technology, but changes to process and culture.  That takes time and training.  It also takes more training.  Changing habits takes time.

Luke Russell 

Resolv, Inc.

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