CRM Implementation – Part 2 – Automation

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.

In the article previously mentioned we captured the reality of “what is”.  In this article we will talk more about “what can be”.  If you followed the simplistic, yet effective, recommendations of my previous article you created a flow chart style documentation of your customer facing processes.  You may have used sticky notes on a wall, or a software program such as Visio, or maybe you used pencil and paper (with a large eraser nearby).  If you have documented your process flow and by doing so created efficiencies in your organization, then congratulations!  You are far ahead of a lot of companies by having completed that exercise.  There is a second part to this process evaluation assignment however.  Step two is about defining places where automation can further improve your processes and efficiencies.

Gather the same individuals that were needed for the definition and evaluation exercise and ask them this question:

Can the process be improved and be more efficient by automating steps?

Expand on that question.  Dig deep. Ask questions like…”If we could send an auto email here, what would happen?”, or “If the receipt of document X created the next step to happen automatically, what would the process look like?”   Think big and think efficient.  Sometimes I even tell people (if they are not the imaginative types), to pretend magic is a possibility.  Where would you wave the magic wand?

This is where CRM software comes into play.  CRM software can automate many steps in a process (and track ALL the steps in a process) making it even more efficient that you can imagine today.  That’s why it’s important to think outside the box.

You will need to imagine the ability to see all steps of the process simultaneously and how that ability would impact not only the steps of the process today but your decision making ability along the way.  How would that decision (or even the ability to make it) impact the next step. The next thing you know, you will begin adding more valuable services, features and benefits to your customer facing processes because you can do it without adding resources, while simultaneously quantifying the results of doing so.  That my friends is where the real magic happens.

Automating as many steps in a tactical work process as possible free up valuable human resources (the most expensive company resource, by the way) to focus on strictly revenue generating activities while providing them the visibility to manage the tactical with an ease they have not previously experienced.

Use CRM software to transform your business practices and motivate your employees through providing them visibility into the big picture.  Demonstrate to them the importance of the single step they take in the bigger picture and ask them to continue to contribute suggestions and ideas to streamline and automate the processes they touch every day!

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CRM Software Selection – Which Product Do I Choose?

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.

So, when choosing a CRM software are we drawn to the one that has the most visual sizzle at the time we are reviewing product demo’s?  If we are using our default product selection criteria, whether we realize it or not, we probably are.  Remember that with most things in the world of technology, sizzle is mobile.  What was most visually appealing today could be outdated or even obsolete tomorrow.  In making this very important long term software selection decision for your organization, the visual learners on the decision making team need to leave that inherent trait in their office when they come to a demonstration.  It’s not about which solution has the most sizzle, it’s about which one meets your organization’s needs.

How then, do we assess organizational needs for CRM software alignment?  It’s about process and culture.  It is necessary to align your organizational processes and culture with your technology and to select a CRM solution that provides that ability.  The technology itself represents the smallest part of the decision making process for a successful CRM implementation. 

Ultimately most CRM software provide sales, marketing and service modules. Typically the “out of the box” solution will meet about 75-80% of your needs.  It is the balance of that alignment that becomes critical to a successful implementation.  It is imperative to align yourself with a CRM business partner that can not only develop the solution to meet all of your organizational needs but that provides a strategy for managing user adoption.  A CRM business partner will work with you in achieving the result you had for implementing CRM software, not just sell you licenses to a CRM software.

Ultimately, it’s not about the product that you choose.  It’s about the CRM Business Partner that you choose.  If you implement CRM correctly, the partner you select will still be working with you many years from now and will understand your business as intimately as you click on this link do.  Choose wisely.  

CRM is Better Than Water Cooler Chit Chat

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.

“They want it?” you say, excited and a little scared. “When did we hear?”  You find out the long awaited decision finally came through in the early part of last week, and that they want the product immediately.  Of course they do.  “Last week?” you say, “As in, we found out a week ago that they want this product right away?”  You are looking dumbfounded at the sales person, who is still standing there with a large grin on his face and his chest all expanded with pride.  “You realize that was a prototype you presented? You know the product doesn’t actually exist yet, right?”

That did it.  The smile is gone and the chest deflates like a balloon with a gaping leak.  That is when the excitement really starts.  Why didn’t the salesperson know it was a prototype? Why didn’t the sales person tell product development the moment he received word the product had been accepted?  Marketing had given him detailed sales materials, so he had every right to assume the product was already in inventory, right?  Why did Marketing create the sell sheet already if it was still in prototype phase?  Is it being manufactured overseas? How long is it going to take to get here?  Oh no! How much will air freight be coming from overseas?  This is a nightmare!  This is a key account, we HAVE to hit the agreed upon delivery date!  

As you run (literally) back to your desk to try to find answers to some of these questions while simultaneously expediting the development and shipment of this product, a thought creeps into your head.  When exactly would have I found out about this if I hadn’t happened to be standing at the water cooler at that exact moment?  Seriously?!  The communication in this office is REALLY messed up!

Does this saga sound familiar?  Who needs reality television, right?  Real life is SO much more exciting!  Only in real life reality, nobody wants THIS kind of drama, do they?

It really doesn’t have to be this way.  CRM software provides the single platform for multiple departments to share information about key accounts and projects in a live environment.  All of the communication gaps that led to this predicament could have been avoided through the use of CRM software.  It is a single location for all customer facing information in an organization.  Information will no longer exist in department silo’s.  Individuals across the organization can make daily tactical decisions based on solid information instead of speculation.  Can you imagine how empowering that would be?

In a situation like this it is not uncommon for a company, after the fire has been put out, to have a meeting.  In this meeting everyone will be expected to take accountability for their part in the communication breakdown and then everyone is supposed to commit to never letting this happen again.  Wouldn’t it just be easier to implement the right tools?  What is worse? The cost of change or the cost of staying the same?  In this case you could answer that question rather quickly.  What WAS the cost of air freight?

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Contact Kym Riedel at Resolv to learn more about what a CRM Business Strategy and what a software solution could mean for your company. Kym can be reached at or at 920-268-4074.

Visit to read other educational articles specific to CRM solutions.