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 For Best and Next Practices

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 believe it is human nature to emulate a best practice.  It is also natural (and often expected) for a company to emulate the practices of industry leaders.  After all, they must be doing something right.  So, is there anything wrong with emulating best practices?  I don’t think wrong is the right word.  It’s not wrong to adopt and implement excellent ideas.  It’s not wrong to be effective and efficient.  The larger the company the more important that is.  Waste of time and materials can become exponential very quickly and very painfully.  Evaluation of existing processes and measuring them against a predetermined criteria (the “best practice” measurements) isn’t ever a bad idea.  I think the lesson of the statement mentioned above is that when you become complacent in best practices and stop reaching for continuous improvement you are likely going to plateau.  Where you really want to be is where there is no one better to measure yourself against, right?


Because I live and breathe CRM solutions when I heard this statement, wrote it down, and re-read it several times I realized it was speaking to me on two levels.  One was mind set (the “best” and “next” parts of the sentence and the strategic planning they were referring to), and the other was execution (the reference to “practices”).  It’s really about getting the innovative and creative objectives we have OUT of our heads and into our daily lives where we can execute them.  There is the challenge.  Most of us are either highly capable of one or the other, but rarely both.  We are big planners and thinkers with little desire to perform the daily tasks to bring those big ideas to fruition or we are daily doers who love the tasks and hate it when someone comes along with yet another big idea that will mess up our day to day flow.  What is the answer? How do we get from best practices to next practices? How do we prioritize, organize, and execute on the big ideas without derailing the entire organization?

CRM software is how you do it. Not only can CRM software be used for existing process and culture alignment, but it can also be the tool that captures the big ideas and systematically makes them part of the existing workflow.  It can be used to measure how much time and resources are being used on a given project and allow those strategic thinkers to make educated decisions about what direction to provide next.  The brilliant idea of last month may not be holding water to the brilliant idea of this month that is expected to cost less to produce, get to market faster, and sell more.  Putting the project details in a single location so you can make educated decisions is one of the primary reasons for CRM.  CRM was designed to enhance the customer experience received from your organization.  That includes making the right decisions internally to improve your corporate and branding image to the outside world.  When there is a disconnect within your organization, there is likely a tool to aid you closing that gap.


CRM software is a tool that can not only take you to a place of emulated best practices but to a place of continuous improvement, and provide a platform for industry next practices.

Contact Kym Riedel at Resolv to learn female cialis 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.

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.

Your Invitation to the Customer Relationship Management Party!

If there’s one thing that’s true about CRM, it’s that it’s a collaboration of people.  It’s about sharing information and having visibility to the contribution that others are making.  In many ways it’s about community.

   It’s a forum for like minded people (your co-workers) to communicate and work together toward a common goal.  It’s about having a single location for all customer facing information….a location that everyone needs to know about and frequent regularly!  Following is a series of articles inviting you to learn more about how CRM software may impact your organization on both a strategic and tactical level.  Consider it an invitation to achieving the level of understanding about CRM that will make it worth celebrating!  Join the party!

 

Why:

CRM Enablement to a Better Night’s Rest
CRM is Better Than Water Cooler Chit Chat

When:

Culture Part I– The Top Down Directive
Culture Part II – The CRM Champions
CRM Implementation – Part I – Process Evaluation
CRM Implementation – Part II – Automation

Who:

Be a Miraculous Marketer
Using CRM to Prioritize Contacts, Leads, Prospects and Customers! More Importantly….Know the Difference!

Where:

CRM is NOT homework!
CRM Software Reporting – Hang Your Report Card on the Refrigerator!

RSVP:

Choosing a CRM Business Partner
Resolv – What We Believe


Thank you for joining me and please visit our seminars webpage and register for an upcoming seminar or webinar.  Check back on this page periodically to see future blogs and articles pertaining to user focused CRM.  The invitation to this party is a standing invitation, and one that you are free to forward to anyone who you feel might like to learn more about what CRM could mean for their company.

Kym Riedel

Resolv, Inc

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Culture Part I – The Top Down Directive

I believe that most strategic business owners and business managers find the concept of CRM intriguing.  I believe most of us, who have been out there for a while believe that it is long overdue.

 I remember, years ago (let’s just say more than a decade ago), searching on what was the internet at that time. (For those of you who remember the internet over a decade ago….it was a vast sort of place where you could get lost for hours and accomplish little…mostly because you sat there watching the waiting icon spin because you were on dial up.)  I remember searching on the internet trying to find some form of sharing software…something my whole team could see.  Of course, I didn’t know what CRM was then or that it formally had a name and it was still just a twinkle in the eyes of the big publishers…but even then the need existed. 

Accounting software has been around for about as long as the inception of computers themselves, which spread into inventory management software or total Enterprise Systems.  Yet, for some reason, it has been perfectly acceptable for the DRIVING part of business… sales, marketing and service, to be left to Excel spreadsheets and Outlook calendars.  It seems crazy really, when you think about it.  Crazier still is that I often hear from business owners today they are still reluctant to implement CRM because their people won’t use it.  Hmmmm…..really?

Is it an option?  Has your accounting department ever come to you and said, “I don’t want to use my accounting software, I like using a ledger better”?  Would that be ok?  Let’s face it.  Having visibility to the sales pipeline is long over due.  It’s not about babysitting the sales, marketing or service teams.  It’s about having visibility to critical information in the sales pipeline that leads to informed and educated business decisions.  It’s about having a forecast based on actuality.  It’s about understanding the length of your sales cycle and the resources required to achieve it.  Why is it ok for that to be optional?

We find that if management leads by example, and lives and breathes their CRM, their subordinates will jump aboard the ship quickly.  SHOW THEM why THEY can’t live without it.  Show them what effeciences and intelligence can be gained from zoloftanxiety use.  Share your goals and objectives with them and the reporting capabilities and capacities it has, so they SEE how important their input to the process is. 

CRM software adoption is a top down directive, there is no doubt about it.  A successful CRM implementation is about the culture of the organization far more than it is about any other aspect, including the software itself.   Make it your mission to be the best informed manager or owner in your organization and you will find that CRM software is an essential tool that you can’t live without.   

Kym Riedel
Resolv, Inc.

Accelerating CRM

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.

The objective of our meeting was to define the priority processes within the organization that are in part or full maintained in a CRM solution that should be changed or improved. The result of this deep dive was astounding! I wished I had a dollar for every time someone said they are currently managing a process or part of a process manually (outside of system).  I am not going to pretend that by using CRM you will possess the magic wand that eliminates all process confusion or provide total automation, however it can bridge a lot of gaps.

The most important element in effective CRM usage is process definition and let’s face it dissection.  It’s not always an easy undertaking and sometimes it might even fall on the side of painful, but like the muscle ache you experience after a good work out, it’s a good pain and if you want to improve, a necessary pain. 

A company does not have to have had CRM software for over a decade to experience disparity in process and existing technology. Disparity between process and automated CRM solutions can exist as early as day one of implementation if the process definition and dissection did not occur.

Maximize the utilization of your CRM solution and the return that can be experienced from it by going through the necessary process exercises. It is an effort you will never regret and what you uncover may truly surprise you!

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 kriedel@resolvcrm.com or at 920-268-4074.

Visit www.resolvcrm.com to read other educational articles specific to CRM solutions.

Does Customer Satisfaction Drive Loyalty?

The age-old question of whether or not higher customer satisfaction leads to superior economic returns raises it’s head again as companies invest in CRM strategies and CRM software implementations. 

CRM, Customer Relationship Management, is all about the customer, and is therefore frequently used to drive higher satisfaction ratings from customers.   However, is satisfaction the measure companies should be using to determine the effectiveness of their CRM or for predicting future economic returns?

Customer Satisfaction

Let me sight several examples to the contrary.  First, is McDonalds.  McDonalds owns the fast food (hamburger) market.  Sure, they have competitors (Burger King and Wendy’s for example), yet they are two to three times larger than that of Burger King and Wendy’s.  If you were to base their success off of satisfaction you would assume that McDonalds has the most satisfied customers.  However, of the three listed, McDonalds rates dead last.  In fact, in the 18 years of ASCI (American Customer Satisfaction Index) ratings, McDonalds has always ranked lower than Wendy’s and 17 out of 18 years they ranked below Burger King.

For another example, we can look at Wal-Mart stores.  In a recent ASCI study, Wal-Mart ranked lowest among discount stores.  Yet, with over 140 million American shopping at Wal-Mart is the most popular shopping destination in the country.

Finally, let’s look at the world of Health & Professional Care Stores.  ACSI rated Rite Aid, Walgreens, and CVS, with a fourth category of “all others.”  Who scored the best for customer satisfaction:  All others, of course.

So what does this mean?  Should you not care about customer satisfaction?  No, but realize that I can increase your customer satisfaction numbers by simply advising you to get rid of your least satisfied customers. 

Ultimately, satisfaction surveys can be useful in helping companies know how to improve their products and services, and it helps you to measure whether the changes you make are working, but keep in mind that a previous satisfying purchase does not automatically lead to another purchase.  For example, I enjoyed my stay at Ritz Carlton; however, I don’t stay there often, because Ritz Carlton doesn’t always meet my needs (or values) for most of my hotel stays (that being proximity to a location, comfort, and price). 

Along the same lines, I was a very satisfied Cadillac owner.  I enjoyed the smooth, quiet ride that it offered.  However, my life changed, and my needs (or values) for an automobile changed.  I had three kids, and needed a vehicle that I could easily transport my children and all of their gear.

Taking the time to understand your current needs and values customers (especially the top 10 to 20% of your customers) will help you to position your products and services to their needs, which in turn will help you to retain them as a customer longer.

 

Luke Russell
Resolv, Inc.

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CRM Software Selection – The Test – A Sad Story

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.)


Ok.  Allow me to start by saying that is NOT how you implement a CRM solution.  I have about a hundred questions I want to ask this prospect to help guide them along the path of how to do this correctly. To name a few of those questions,  I would like to ask if sales was consulted prior to making the original software selection?  Was there an understanding of what the needs were of the sales department and the other departments that would be utilizing the solution?  I would like to ask if there were any discussions about aligning current process and culture to the intended software solution?  If so, have they identified areas where change needs to occur? How will they communicate that change?  I would like to ask what exactly it is they want to accomplish by implementing CRM?  What is the goal?  What do you hope to gain?  I want to ask what they intend to give sales as a result of the implementation?  Do they want to give sales better reports? Better visibility to all accounts? Better ability to manage prospects and customers activities and opportunities? Does sales understand what they stand to gain by using a new system?  Does everyone understand what the company stands to gain? Is it increased sales? Reduced costs due to improved efficiency? Is it both?  Ok, I’ll stop here.  I fear I sound like I am ranting, which I am not.  These are REALLY important questions.


The first step to selecting a CRM solution is NOT to pick a software.  It is actually one of the final steps!  I would also like to point out, that although CRM “free demo’s” are available online for you try, be very leery of using that as a companywide test of a solution.  A successful CRM solution is about company-wide collaboration.  It’s about defining what information you want to collect and measure and clearly articulating to all of the users what they as individuals and the company stands to gain from the collection and sharing of this information.   So, that being the case, how then could a test with a couple of individuals be a measurement of success?  If everyone isn’t using the solution you technically still have little or no visibility to information and without everyone using it, you have no ability to use it as a management or reporting tool, which is one of its greatest benefits.  So why would you be surprised that it’s not performing to your expectations? 


A “test” also carries a pass/fail connotation with it, and I don’t know about you, but if I have a choice, I choose NOT to take a test I’m not prepared for.  So, unless this is a top-down mandate, and you have extensively trained the users on the solution you are asking them to “test” they are going to opt out (not participate).  Training costs money.  Money that companies are typically not willing to spend on a solution they are not yet entirely committed to (which is pretty clear  to all when you call it a “test”). Can you see the problem here?  A CRM test is typically a very bad idea because it is destined for failure before it starts.  The worst part about it is a company will walk away from one of these tests and believe their organization is not “ready” for a CRM solution, when the one thing this whole exercise did prove is how incongruent their communications really are and how much they really do need a better communications solultion!


I have planted the seed that the CRM selection PROCESS was likely the culprit here, not the poor sales guys who are now under the gun to use a tool that is not designed to make them effective and efficient.  A single department alone cannot change corporate culture.  I believe this company is serious about change.  I believe they will evolve to using technology that will make them better at what they do.  Perhaps this article finds them and guides them along that path.

Choosing a CRM Business Partner

In our industry, when a developer and consultant, such as Resolv, works with an existing software publisher (like Sage for example), our relationship is called that of a “Business Partner”.  Angela, one of our company’s Principals, and I were talking about the relationship between us and our customer.  We were discussing whether or not our relationship with our customers is appropriately described when using “vendor/client” terminology.  Really, it is not.  We are without a doubt, “Business Partners” with our customers as well.

 

Our sales process begins by educating the customer on the process of successfully selecting and implementing CRM software.  You will quickly learn by reading the many blogs and the verbiage on our webpage that we believe the most important decision you will make regarding your CRM software implementation is your Business Partner.

The reason for this is because in order for a CRM implementation to be successful your organization’s culture and processes need to be in alignment with your business strategy.  It’s an evolution.  It is not about downloading software on to your computers and telling everyone to use it.  It’s about understanding what you want to accomplish and when.  It’s about having measurable or quantifiable goals with a realistic timeline.  It’s about knowing what you want to ACCOMPLISH by implementing CRM software and being able to measure that result after the implementation.

A Business Partner is someone who works with you to define those goals prior to an implementation and holds everyone involved accountable to those predetermined results after the implementation.  A Business Partner is someone who will advise a phase plan approach that makes the implementation manageable and executable at a tactical level.  A Business Partner will make sure that it doesn’t just sound like a good plan, but that it IS achievable based on prior experience and expertise.  A Business Partner will look to the future with you, to begin to visualize those next plan phases and begin to work with you to incorporate them within a realistic plan.

A Business Partner is someone that you will be working with for years to come.  When you begin the CRM implementation investigation process, don’t ask yourself, “Which software?”  Ask yourself which partner you want to be working with a decade from now.  Because, if you do it right, the consultant you hire to implement and develop your CRM is someone you will know for many many years to come.

Kym Riedel

Resolv, Inc.