C-Level Fear of CRM

C-Level Fear of CRM

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”.

This got me to thinking, “why aren’t many C-Level executives embracing CRM?”  Everyone else in their organization, especially those on the front-line, has either embraced it or is screaming for it.  Sales, marketing, and service cannot live without it in most organizations.  Continue reading →

More Keys to Success in CRM Implementations

More Keys to Success in CRM Implementations

Over the last 15 years, I have worked with hundreds of organizations and 1000s of CRM users, and surprisingly, CRM implementations, for the most part, have not changed much from 1998 to 2013.  

One would think that with vast amount of knowledge available to companies today, that implementing a successful CRM system should be a cake walk.  Unfortunately, the percentage CRM system implementations that do not meet expectations are about the same now as they were in 1998.  The problem does not lie in the lack of knowledge or lack of expertise available.  In fact, I have been standing on my soap box for over 15 years preaching to any who will listen on the gospel of CRM implementation success.  I am not alone; there are hundreds like me, all with similar paths to CRM salvation. Continue reading →

CRM Across the Generations

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.

Culture can mean many things.  It is probably a word that is overused yet not entirely understood.  Culture, by definition is “shared beliefs and values of a group”.  In business, culture is often used interchangeably with “company mindset”.

If you have been researching CRM you probably already know that in order for a CRM software implementation to be successful it has to be a top down directive and that usage must be mandated.  In other words, the culture of the organization must be so that the leaders understand the value a CRM solution will provide and they must be able to articulate it in a way that the users will embrace it.  For the users to embrace it they must essentially understand how they as individuals, and the company as a whole, will be greater for the knowledge available as a result of using CRM software.  Oh, is that all?

So, for the users to embrace it, they must understand the value of it.  Yet, what one person values can be very different from what another person values.  We are talking about individuals.  “Users” are not really a single group, but a group of individuals.  This same group of individuals is also a multigenerational work force that value things very differently.  What I often like to point out is that CRM has something for everyone.

Baby boomers (born between 1946 – 1964), who tend to be traditionalists, believe that face to face communication is the best way to manage a customer relationship.  CRM provides them the ability to capture that experience, and the related outcome in a way that everyone in the organization can relate and if necessary, react to.

Generation X (born between 1964-1980), who tend to be individualists, often want to do for themselves and keep to themselves to get the job done faster.  This is a generation that has a tendency to take on too much.  There is no greater tool than CRM to maximize your efforts with less time.  CRM can perform like the secretary of days gone by!

Generation Y or Nexters (born between 1981-2000), who are tech-savvy and achievement oriented, seek out tools that grow with the times and provide instant gratification.  CRM can be developed to be many things and this group will see opportunities for utilization others may not have even considered.

CRM does truly provide something for everyone!  The solution to the culture problem of user resistance is to relate to the individual who is providing that resistance.  Is it a generational resistance?  What does CRM provide the individual will value?  If all else fails, start with the basics.  What is the shared value the organization will experience? That’s a positioning statement every generation will understand.

IT in charge of CRM implementation?

This is the second of three posts related to the “Been there, done that” thinking of Customer Relationship Management.

Let me begin by saying I have the utmost respect for IT people!  If you have never lived in the IT world let me give you a quick glace at what they face on a regular basis:

  • Computers and computing systems have become business critical, so critical that many IT people are on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week
  • Most upgrades and installations are scheduled for nights, weekends and holidays
  • IT is frequently blamed when things don’t go well or when a computer/system fails, and they are seldom praised when things work
  • Technology and software is changing at an alarming rate, and many IT people are expected to be experts on all software systems, the moment they come out

Why am I telling you this?  Because, even though your IT people work hard at keeping your systems up to date and functioning, they may not be the best people for driving customer-focused change within your organization. 

I am frequently asked “isn’t software selection and implementation the job of our IT department?”  The answer to that is no.  Your IT department should have input into the software selection process, but they should not be making the selection.  The selection needs to be made based on your company’s CRM needs, and should be made by someone that is customer facing and that will ultimately be using the software.  While you may have the best IT department in the United States, they are still IT, not sales, marketing or customer service.  They do not talk to the customer, and most likely do not understand Customer Relationship Management from your business-strategy point-of-view.

As far as implementation of software, it is task of IT to assist in the CRM software implementation, but I would not ask someone who is unfamiliar with a product to implement it.  The goal would be to have the consultant implement and train the IT in the support and maintenance of the CRM software.   The main role IT in the CRM implementation is to help with the data integration to other systems and to ensure the data integrity of the links between CRM and other systems.

Remember, implementation of software is just a small component of a CRM system implementation.  The other areas affected are your business culture and process. 

Luke Russell
Resolv, Inc.

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Been there, done that.

I had a conversation with Kym, one of my co-workers, the other day.  She was calling prospects and received a similar response from multiple companies when she asked them about Customer Relationship Management (CRM).  The response was, “we tried CRM, it didn’t work.”  I hear that and think, “of course it didn’t work!”


I bet I can guess why it didn’t work for each company that responded with the “been there, done that” type of response.  It is most likely one of these three reasons:


1)    The company self-implemented CRM

2)     The driving force for CRM was someone in the company’s IT department

3)     The company thought that CRM was a one-time event



In fact, as I look at those three reasons, I think that each would take more time to explain than I have in this one blog entry; therefore, my next three blogs will break down each of the three reasons for CRM failures. 


Luke Russell
Resolv, Inc.

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Do you have an expensive Rolodex?

Over the last 12 years (yes, I have been doing CRM consulting for 12 years now) I have seen many CRM systems implemented as an very expensive Rolodex, basically to perform the function of Contact Management or Sales Force Automation.  There is a difference between Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Contact Management.  So I thought today I would help define each step in the Contact Management to Customer Relationship Management chain:


Contact Management is typically contact based, and is more or less an electronic rolodex.  It is a mailing list for a specific user or group of users, and is normally not integrated across the entire organization.  It frequently does not meet all of the data needs required for managing leads, prospects, and customers, leaving many stand alone islands of data throughout the organization.  Often companies will know they need to move up from contact management when they begin to have multiple contact management databases or when they have to use outside programs like Microsoft Excel or Access to track additional data about their prospects and customers.  Contact management is a great first step into CRM, and Sage software with over 4,000,000 users of ACT! is the world-wide leader in this category.

Sales Force Automation is frequently account based, and includes enhanced note taking and opportunity tracking capabilities.  It allows for the tracking of more data though configuration, and can be deployed organization wide.  Making the step to sales force automation normally eliminates the need for many of the separate islands of data, leaving only one or two spreadsheets or outside databases for tracking additional data components.  Very often, sales force automation will include basic integration into the back office.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is account based, and includes advanced marketing management, opportunity management, quote management, contract tracking, support issue management, and forecasting to name a few key components.  Basically, it encompasses data from every aspect of your relationship with the customer.  It is fully customizable eliminating all need for outside islands of data about your customer (outside of your accounting/ERP system).  It can be fully integrated with back office and manufacturing and can be deployed across the entire organization, including remote offices anywhere around the world.  Sage SalesLogix is an excellent example of a true Customer Relationship Management tool.  Sage SalesLogix has been the industry innovation leader since 1998 and is consistently winning industry standard and user satisfaction awards.

Hopefully having an understanding of what CRM includes will help you as you focus on the business goals that you are looking toward CRM software to help you accomplish.  Don’t forget that your CRM strategy and corresponding software implementation is an ever-evolving  part of your organization.   While CRM is not about software, we do have a couple resources on our website that will help as you are evaluating software:

Luke Russell
Resolv, Inc.

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