You Might Not Understand CRM, If …

You Might Not Understand CRM, If …

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.

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The top 4 reasons why you should not implement CRM

The top 4 reasons why you should not implement CRM

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.   Continue reading →

CRM, easy as riding a bike?

CRM, easy as riding a bike?

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.

No kidding, your CRM system is more difficult than riding a bike or driving a car?  So let me ask you this, which did you spend more time learning to do, ride a bike, drive a car, or use your CRM system? Continue reading →

Questions To Think About As You Move Toward CRM: Part 4

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.

I call these people champions because the task I am describing is NOT an easy one.  I know and understand this, because this “project” they have taken on is my full time job.

Allow me to share some insight on how to accomplish this mission. The champion is correct in looking for alleys to join their mission.  CRM cannot be implemented in a bubble, or by a single individual or one department.  A successful CRM implementation has to start with a CRM strategy.  What does that mean?  In short, a CRM strategy is the answer to the following question:  How can we improve our processes to ensure happy, loyal customers?

I understand perfectly that is not an easy question to answer.  If you think it is, throw your quick instinctual answer out onto the conference room table with a group of individuals that represent all customer facing departments of the company.  You may find that your quick and easy answer is dissected and mutilated with the insight each of these individuals brings to the bigger process.  This exercise will demonstrate all the parties that will need to be involved in a CRM implementation.  These individuals represent the group that need to collectively answer the question that will result in a CRM strategy.

Back to that champion….this is a key area to focus your energy.  Generate the excitement among the key individuals in customer facing  departments by involving them in creating the answer to the CRM strategy question.  However, that’s only part of what you need.  More importantly, you need CEO and senior management buy in.  In order for a CRM implementation to succeed it MUST be a top down directive.  Depending on the internal dynamic of your organization, the order of that buy in may be more of an art than a science, but both are essential to success.

There are other internal resources to consider.  The most glaring being money.  Align your efforts with annual budget planning.  While considering budget also evaluate the potential impact (hours) on the departments that will be affected by process change and a new software implementation.  Don’t pretend resources won’t need to be allocated thinking it will further your efforts.  Rather, quantify everything to the best of your ability and present the full impact.  Both costs and potential return.

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The best advice I can give to CRM champions is, think like a champion.  If you owned the business what information would you need to make a decision?  What setbacks might be a result of change? Who will be impacted and what will that mean? Will this give us an advantage over our competition? What will we ultimately gain?  What will happen to us if we refuse to change?  What’s worse…the pain of change or the pain of staying the same?

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.

Using CRM to Eliminate the Dreaded Forecasting Meeting

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).

  It’s the meeting where most commonly the senior finance staff generated a number the company has to hit next year to keep everyone employed and the stakeholders or owners happy.  Now, sales must lock themselves in a room and figure out how they are going to achieve this number.  Is that as backwards as it sounds?  Indeed it is.


What typically happens is senior finance staff looks at sales reports (post sale data) from previous years, adds an arbitrary percentage increase and then says, find it.  “We don’t care where, we don’t care how, find it.”  Aligning that arbitrary increase to top performing accounts makes the budgeting process for the next year more efficient, but rarely is it accurate.  Is there a way to eliminate this senseless charade?  There is.


Use your CRM to demonstrate what would be required in time and resources to achieve the stated increase in new accounts and increased sales on existing accounts.  With CRM you will have pre-sale data that conveys actual effort to closed sales.  How long is a sales cycle? How many sales have to be in the pipeline, by when, to achieve the magic number that has been provided? Is it even possible? If not, what is required to make it possible? How many new product presentations were given to existing customers last year to drive increased sales? How many more will be required to achieve the new target? Has that number of new products been scheduled for creation and distribution? How many incoming leads were created last year through marketing efforts? How many of those leads generated new accounts and orders?  How many will be required to achieve the new target?


Locking sales management in a room with an arbitrary sales percentage increase and asking them to put their heads on the butcher block for their share of that number is NOT logical forecasting.  Use CRM software to measure pre-sale activity and base sales growth on the resources required to support that growth.  Everyone wants to succeed. Everyone in the company wants to increase sales.  With pre-sale reporting provided by CRM software everyone in the company can align resources to the new sales targets and everyone can work together to achieve success!

Knowledge is Power – CRM and Your Sales Pipeline

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.

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I think we may adopt inferior as acceptable quite often in our day to day lives because we believe it is easier to accept what we have than spend time trying to figure out what is needed to make it better. I personally catch myself doing it all the time.  My husband and I were looking for a new laptop and I found myself looking for one that didn’t have Windows 8 on it because I didn’t want to learn something new.  Really?  Shame on me!  The question we really need to ask ourselves is what do we gain by learning something new? What knowledge will we posses we didn’t previously? How will that knowledge impact our future decisions? How much time will it save us in the future?


CRM software can do a lot of amazing things, but one that people praise over and over after implementation is the visibility into the sales pipeline.  Prior to implementing CRM companies often use post sale reports (from their accounting or ERP packages) to make decisions.  Post sale reports only show you the customers and orders you won.  That’s only half the picture, right?  How can you make an educated decision with half the picture? To rectify this problem companies often attempt to capture sales pipeline activity through excel spreadsheets, managed and updated by the sales people.  These weekly or monthly “spreadsheet meetings” are dreaded by all and often sales management does not leave that meeting any more informed than they were before they started it.

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But….if you have never known any different and if you have become complacent with this inferior sales information collection process how would you know that it is entirely unacceptable?  How bad does it have to be before you finally say “Enough!” (and in my case, call the cable guy?)

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Visibility into your sales pipeline will provide you with a level of information, that once you have experienced you will not be able to live without!  (Think Ipad or Kindle.)  You hear the hype and think that everyone is exaggerating the benefits.  Then you get one and refuse to leave the room, any room, without yours on or near your person.  CRM, when used effectively is just like that.  You will wonder why you waited! You would never dream of being without it again, and it will become as necessary to you as your Iphone or personal computer.

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CRM is here to stay.  Make the leap to better information so you can consistently make the very best, informed decisions.  Don’t settle for inferior.

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Using CRM to Prioritize Contacts, Leads, Prospects and Customers! More importantly…..know the difference!

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?

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We find that if companies create the definitions for these terms prior to attending a tradeshow and ensure that everyone in the organization understands those definitions, expectations and outcomes are often better aligned.  For example, if the marketing department has created a contest, provided a raffle giveaway, or another reason to generate traffic into the booth that collects names, emails and telephone numbers does everyone in the group agree these are leads?  Likely not.  Unless every individual has to meet a very specific criteria before stepping onto the show floor, it is most likely that the vast majority of names in that drawing are not qualified leads.  They may not be leads at all, only contacts.

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So, what constitutes a lead? Different company’s sales processes manage these terms in different ways and there is no right or wrong as long as there is agreement to the intended meaning of each term and the expected action that each is to be met with.  In our company we classify a lead as someone who has “raised their hand”.  In other words it is someone who has said, I know what you do and I’m interested in that.  That alone would constitute a reaction from us that is different than a name we would have gotten from a booth drawing, however, a raising of the hand is still only a lead; not a prospect. This is where we get particular about qualification.  Our CRM software is helpful in outlining our qualification questions for each record and collecting the answers to those qualifications in a single, quickly reference able location.  Once all qualifications regarding interest, size, time, decision makers, and budget have been collected we can officially classify them as a prospect.

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In our world, a prospect is someone that has moved into the sales process. Again, CRM software is highly beneficial in streamlining activity for all classifications of records.  If you have a specific contact process that you would like to engage in to convert a lead to a prospect, a CRM solution can help automate many steps of that for you.   We all want to convert prospects to customers, and there are undoubtedly steps in your sales process that can be automated to expedite that result.  Often, even automated reminders to ensure action is being taken can make the difference in converting a lead to a prospect or a prospect to a customer.

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Tradeshows are only one way that leads enter our sales system.  They come in from many directions and a CRM solution can manage the classification of these records in a language that is mutually understood by all in the organization and it can help you manage those records in an effective manner that will result in more customers and more revenue.  Before you start planning for your next tradeshow, have a planning meeting to determine what your goals are for contacts, leads, prospects and customers.  When everyone is speaking the same language the expected outcomes will also be understood by everyone!

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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 kriedel@resolvcrm.com or at 920-268-4074. Visit  www.resolvcrm.com  to read other educational articles specific to CRM solutions.

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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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Contact Kym www.punapharmacy.com 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 kriedel@resolvcrm.com or at 920-268-4074. Visit  www.resolvcrm.com  to read other educational articles specific to CRM solutions.