Culture Part II – The CRM Champions

“How a company manages change during a CRM implementation is a major factor in the difference between a CRM implementation success and a CRM implementation failure.”  Luke Russell, Resolv Founder

I’d like to start this article by striking a little fear into everyone.  It is estimated that over roughly 50% of all CRM software implementations fail.

  Yikes!  That IS frightening!  CRM software for any business is a significant investment.  With a 50% failure rate you might as well take that significant investment to Vegas and throw it all on either black or red at the Roulette table, right?  Wrong.  There are very specific reasons that CRM software implementations fail.  Knowing those reasons BEFORE implementation, and avoiding those pitfalls, is the key to ensuring you are on the right side of that 50%.  It is not about chance or the odds being in your favor.  This is an outcome you control.

 
Let me start by saying that CRM implementations don’t fail because of the software.  They fail because process and culture don’t align with the tool (software).  “So,” you ask, “how do I make that alignment happen?”  Fair question.   There is not just one single answer to that question.  I could answer it by going down many paths, but the path we are going to talk about today is the one that is the FOUNDATION for achieving all the others.  The answer to that question that we are going to be addressing today is:  “You choose the right champions to be on the CRM implementation team.”

In my previous blog, Culture – The Top Down Directive, we talked about how important it is for senior management to lead by example.  Few will dispute the importance of the macro to micro form of leadership and the necessity for it at every company.  However, CRM  software is about so much more than just macro to micro management.  CRM software has so many layers that it can be many things to many people.  Let’s face it, in many companies senior management may not even KNOW what a lot of their employees do daily so they couldn’t possibly begin to define how CRM software could help that individual on a daily tactical basis, right?  That’s not being critical.  It’s a reality of how businesses function.

That’s where champions come in.  As you select the CRM implementation team for your company you are NOT just looking for higher up decision maker types.  They are only one component of that team.  You also need the doers.  You need representation for the departments that really make the company function at a tactical level on a daily basis.  If a department comes into direct contact with the customer they need to be represented.  CRM software manages all customer facing activity.  Start by defining what that is and who, internally, that represents.  

Let’s dive just a little deeper into who the champion of that department might be.  In addition to having an intimate understanding of their respective function in the organization, and that of others in their representative group, the champion needs to have a specific personality type.  All individuals fall into four basic personality types;  Victim, Bystander, Critic, and Navigator.  
The Victim is the person that is always terrified.  They are terrified of change.  They are terrified they won’t be able to cut it on a daily basis.  If your prospective department representative “expert” bears this personality type, they should NOT be on the CRM implementation team.

The Bystander is the person who stands by, hopelessly hoping things won’t change, or if they do change, will wait and see what everyone else has to say about it before developing their own opinion.  If your prospective department representative “expert” bears this personality type, they should NOT be on the CRM implementation team.

The Critic is the person that not only resists change, but rallies others to resist change.  Now here is the interesting thing about the critic personality.  They are typically the loudest person in the group so you are inclined to think that if you had them on your team they could make some big waves quickly, right? You only have to win them over….  Oh they can make waves alright.  They will crush your optimistic belief they were going to support change and send negativity through the company like a smoke bomb.  Resist all inclinations to put a critic on your CRM implementation team.  Think about this one carefully, because critic personalities are sometimes hidden behind smiling faces.

The Navigator is someone who assesses change and accepts the value of it.  The Navigator is the person who will quietly contemplate the pros and cons and discuss both in an “educate me” style.  The Navigator is someone that others respect because they know this person does not make rash decisions or harsh judgments.  They may not be the fastest or most efficient person in the group, but they are the most methodical and the most respected.  That is the person you want on your CRM implementation team.

The objective is to find a Navigator for each customer facing department in your organization.  That is your CRM implementation team.  It is often interesting, when considered from this perspective, who surfaces as the representative choice.  It could the one with the most seniority or the one with the least.  It may not be the first person that comes to mind when you think of a specific department in your organization.  Here is something to consider…put the definition of the Navigator out to each department and have them select the one person in the group who best fits that personality definition.  You may be surprised at the result.
The secondary qualification for being on the CRM implementation team, of course, is their knowledge of their respective function and the functions of others in their department.  Personality type is qualification factor numero uno, however.  What they don’t know about process they should have the capacity to collect from those that do.   

Choosing your CRM implementation team is the first factor to a successful CRM implementation that you control.  You control them all, and recognizing that and planning appropriately will ensure CRM implementation success.  The implementation team is one of the most powerful tools you will have to manage the culture aspects of the implementation and ultimately of the long term success of your organization.  Choose wisely.

At Resolv, we are happy to aid you in your CRM implementation team selection and all other aspects of your CRM implementation solution.

Kym Riedel

Resolv, Inc.

CRM is NOT homework!

Do you remember when you were in high school or college; that time of year came when you selected your courses for the following semester?  Do you remember asking around to find out who had taken that class already, and “Was it hard?”, and most importantly, “Did the teacher (or professor) give a lot of homework”?  That was the ultimate criteria for deciding which teacher you would take which class with, or if you would take an elective class at all.  No one likes homework, right!  The very best classes were the ones where they allowed time in class to complete the assignments.  You could just do it and forget it, and not have to worry about it again.

I don’t think my mentality towards homework has changed all that much since then, really.  If anything, as I get older, I have less and less tolerance for doing “work” on “my” time.  I think age has made me appreciate how important “my” time really is.  So it doesn’t surprise me that when I talk to sales managers who have never used CRM before, and ask them what their reservations are, they tell me it’s because they “don’t want more work to do”.  You know what…that’s a fair statement!  I get where they’re coming from.  I believe it’s a common perception in the business world that our bosses, our prospects and our clients are always wanting more and more from us and we have less and less time to get it all done.  Often, we in sales, tend to feel like our time is not our own.  “And you want more?” we think.  “Seriously?  And where is the time for that supposed to come from?”  They envision themselves having to fire up their laptops at 10:00 p.m. after they’ve finally checked into their hotel for the night, only to enter information into the CRM software that they already emailed or called into their inside contacts earlier in the day.  They don’t want to be held accountable for yet another task at the end of each day.  They don’t want to use the little “me” time they have at the end of a travel day working even longer hours.

CRM is not homework!  CRM can be accessed through smart phones and iPads as well as laptops.  Bring your device of choice with you into your customer meeting.  Use it as a means to demonstrate to your customer your encompassing knowledge of them and their history with your company.  Take brief notes right in your device and schedule the follow up actions needed while your customer is right in front of you.  If you aren’t comfortable with that, then make it a habit not to leave the customers’ parking lot without inputting the (limited) key points of the conversation and documenting a follow up action or assigning the appropriate tasks. Limit yourself to 2 minutes of entry after each customer contact.  Using CRM effectively allows you to do it and forget it, much like choosing the course that provided time for you to do your homework in class.

   
That 2 minutes of discipline will give you back minutes in your day and hours in your week. Not only will you not have CRM homework, it will eliminate the need for lengthy emails and long meetings.  Interested parties will know they can find the answers, tasks and next steps in the CRM and require less of your precious time.  Your time will be yours to manage and you will once again, be glad you have another free night, without homework!

Kym Riedel
Resolv, Inc.

Be a Miraculous Marketer

I have been tasked with writing the company newsletter in my past lives…and anyone who has shared that responsibility knows the associated dread that comes as the next publish date approaches.  It’s tough being creative on queue! 

You know you had a brilliant idea at one point during the last 30 days that you fully intended to carry the newsletter with, but it now escapes you as you stare at the blank template.  When these dark moments come you start thinking even more negatively.  “Who even reads this anyhow?” you start to ask yourself and “Am I just wasting my time?”
 
Though I am using a newsletter as an example in this story, we know these same doubts often apply in many marketing campaigns.  Marketing sometimes feels subjective.  You have to “believe” your efforts are having an impact because you haven’t been able to actually quantify them.  Marketing is an important role that sometimes leaves its champions feeling a little lost behind the scenes.
 
Allow me to let you in on a secret.  It doesn’t have to be that way.
 
I like to think of myself as creative (at least selectively), but more importantly I think of myself as analytical.  Show me the numbers!  The beauty of CRM is that it can provide analytics for previously subjective activities.  You can use CRM to track how many of your email campaigns have been open, viewed or read.  You can begin to quantify that fact that leads came from your marketing efforts.  And here is the real magic….when you are feeling creative you can create campaigns (like newsletters!) in advance and set up automated processes for them to release on a predetermined schedule. 


Imagine…writing all 12 of your newsletters in one industrious day and allowing the automated process to send them on schedule.  Better still, let that automated process automatically update the contact record that it has been opened and read by the prospect and then auto notify the appropriate sales person so they can call in “warm” instead of “cold”.  When that prospect becomes a client…you now KNOW your efforts played a part in securing that business.  Create a report in your CRM that notifies you on a monthly basis of all the prospects that were converted to clients after having opened and read your marketing emails.  Evaluate which marketing campaigns created more leads, improve your campaigns or target market based on specific groups to achieve the results you desire.
 
You won’t believe what an impact creativity combined with analytics can do for your departmental objectives or for your morale! It will seem miraculous!

Resolv – What We Believe

“People don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it.” Simon Sinek

We work with businesses everyday to help them understand that the relationships they establish and maintain with their customers are the life blood of who they are, regardless of what they do. Regardless of whether you sell a product or service, regardless of whether you work from a magnificent corporate glass building or work out of the trunk of your car, relationships are the key to success for any organization.

  So one has to ask themselves then, why they want to pursue these relationships.  Why does your organization want to establish communication with that particular outside party?  What do they hope to achieve or accomplish?  Why do you personally want to engage with the representative of that customer?  What does it mean to you personally to complete that task or objective?
 
It is our belief that there is no greater reason to explore the answers to these questions than when you are in our profession.  The profession, ultimately, of advising others how to  manage, maintain, and improve business relationships.  CRM software and the correct development and user adoption of that software provides companies with a tool to manage, build and truly master customer communication at all levels within the organization.  So, why, we ask ourselves, do we want to do that?  The Principals of Resolv, Luke Russell and Angela Talano take that question and more importantly, their answer to that question, very seriously.

Ultimately, it is because we have seen the incredible changes that companies experience when CRM is successfully implemented, developed and adopted into a company.  To be part of something that can literally catapult a company to the next level is an exciting and inspiring endeavor.  To truly partner with a client and understand the fine details of their business and to contribute to their success by providing the most important tool they need to achieve their goals is a phenomenal experience.  Honestly, we struggle with how to translate that passion into verbiage.  We do what we do so your company can achieve its goals in a measurable, knowledge based environment.  We believe, in our absolute core, that we have the tools and experience to help you make that happen.
 
We Believe …
– Organizations can see dramatic improvements when CRM software is implemented as a tool when in coordination with a solid business strategy.
– More productive, successful employees will be an outcome of proper usage of CRM software by all people in within an organization. 
– Profitability and customer loyalty come as a result of simple changes to culture and proper usage of technology within an organization.

If you get a chance, and have about 20 minutes to spare, take a look at Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk at the link below.  The basis of his seminar is to educate others about the importance of understanding WHY you do what you do, and that once you have learned to lead with the WHY, instead of with the traditional HOW or WHAT, you will have truly distinguished yourself with the elite businesses that refuse to fail.
 
http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html?quote=710

Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle
 Simon Sinek Golden Circle

We do understand WHY we want to work with our clients, and with our prospective clients.  Simon says to “work with those who believe what you believe”.  Do you believe you can achieve greatness if you have the proper tools to create productive, happy employees and profitable, loyal customers? If so, we certainly look forward to working with you.

Kym Riedel

Resolv, Inc

Back to the Basics

Due to the recent popularity of our new CRM webinar “What is CRM? And 10 Reasons why CEO’s should be demanding it.” I have come to the understanding that many are struggling with a definition of CRM.  Today’s blog post will hopefully help with that.

First, let me point out the obvious, CRM is an acronym for Customer Relationship Management.  CRM has been around for thousands of years.  It may have been termed other things like:
  • Sales management
  • Customer management
  • Relationship marketing
  • Customer service management
Trust me, as long as there has been buyers and sellers, there has been CRM.
 

CRM Business Strategy

I believe that CRM is a customer centric business strategy.  Bob Thompson, CEO of CustomerThink Corp. & founder of CRMGuru.com, put it this way, “’Customer-centric’ means giving your customers what they want.  ‘Business strategy’ means accomplishing the goals of your organization. Accomplish both at the same time, and you’ve got the win-win that CRM is supposed to be about.”
 
As I think about a customer centric strategy, other terms come to mind like a customer centric philosophy, approach, tactic or plan for doing business.  My full definition of CRM can be found here, but ultimately it is about maximizing your business potential with your customers.  It’s about keeping your customers happy, since the only way to maximize your business potential is with happy customers.
 
There are those that believe the CRM is all about software.  While there are plenty of CRM software system available:
 
  • SalesLogix
  • SugarCRM
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM
  • Sage CRM
  • SAP CRM
This list is growing daily!  CRM software publishers would like you to believe that CRM is about software.  However, in all honesty, software is not required for a solid CRM business strategy.  This is coming from me, Luke Russell, who has been a SalesLogix software developer and a SalesLogix support technician since 1998. 
 
But the truth is that CRM is about knowing who your customers are and making them unbelievably happy customers. Saying that CRM is all about software is like saying that accounting is all about software.  Sure, software makes performing the action of accounting easier and faster, but accounting software does not do the accounting for you.
 
However, software can play a role in CRM strategy implementation.  CRM software helps businesses to bring together disparate pieces of information about customers, prospects and buying trends so an organization can:
 
  • More effectively sell and market their products and services
  • Increase customer “happiness” and; therefore, increase customer loyalty
  • Help an organization to remember and keep its promises to a customer
In its most basic form, CRM software helps users in:
 
  • Identifying and targeting their best customers
  • Implementing marketing campaigns with clear goals and objectives and generate quality leads
  • Optimizing information shared by multiple employees
  • Streamlining existing processes
  • Allowing the formation of individualized relationships with customers
  • Identifying the most profitable customers and providing them the highest level of service
  • Knowing their customers, understanding their needs and effectively build relationships between the company, its customer base and distribution partners
There are many ways having a CRM system can help you sell and market your products and services more effectively, increase customer loyalty and drive competitive advantage, no matter how big or small your company is, but it all starts with a customer centric business strategy.
 

Can CRM Software Improve Efficiency?

Efficiency:   According to dictionary.reference.com efficiency is “accomplishment of or ability to accomplish a job with a minimum expenditure of time and effort: The assembly line increased industry’s efficiency.  

With that definition, sure, CRM Software can improve efficiency.  Unfortunately, the efficiency comes with a cost.  However, notice that efficiency is not defined as “doing more with less”.  Let me break it down using the assembly line reference made by dictionary.reference.com.

CRM can improve efficiency, but not like an assembly line.

Prior to an assembly line, an automobile could be made by one person.  True that person may only make one auto every 180 days, but a single person could in effect start an auto manufacturing plant and run it himself.  With an assembly line method, while being more efficient according to the dictionary definition, it takes 100 plus people (according to some articles, thousands of people) to make one automobile.  Certainly, the assembly line is creating many more autos per year, and even more than the same number of people could create each working on an individual automobile, but the efficiency did not come without a heavy cost.  Millions of dollars must be spent and thousands of employees must hired and trained before the first car comes off of the line.

The same is true with CRM Software in relation to sales and customer service.  CRM Software can help you to know more about your customers and remind you to take action on that knowledge.  However, in order for this to happen, processes must be designed and implemented and training given to all users.  Data must be compiled and kept up-to-date.  Users must use the system and complete the action as recommended by the system.  A lot of time and effort will go into the initial implementation and setup of the CRM system before a single benefit is seen. 

Ultimately, it is my belief that a CRM software system can increase efficiency, but it is also my belief that a CRM system should be implemented because a company desires to improve customer service and the customer experience through a broader understanding of the customer’s needs and purchase patterns.  Remember this when implementing CRM Software:  Superior Customer Service is Inefficient!

Thousands of companies world-wide are reaping benefits from CRM Software, including increased efficiency.  These companies each understood and committed to:

 

  • The investment of time and money
  • The importance of training
  • The mandatory usage of the software by all involved
  • The commitment to continuous process improvement brought about by a better understanding of their customer

 

Much like companies implementing assembly lines in the early 1900s, companies with successful CRM implementations focused on the long term gain offered by CRM Software.  These gains include such things as:

 

  • A more thorough understanding of their customer
  • Improved communication with the customer
  • A proactive approach to sales and customer service
  • Automated processes for prospecting and sales 

 

Luke Russell 

Resolv, Inc.

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Knowing what you are selling helps CRM implementation

Once again, today’s blog post is prompted by a quote.  This time the quote is attributed to Charles Revson, Founder of Revlon.  Here is the quote: “When it leaves the factory, its lipstick.  But when it crosses the counter in the department store, it’s hope.”  

 

What are you selling?When I read that quote, my thoughts went instantly to “ah ha!, When implementing CRM, you can learn a lot from lipstick!”  This is the golden nugget to CRM implementation, know what it is you are selling.  I’m not talking about what your product or service is, I’m talking about what your product or service “IS”.  It has been called so many things over the years: “your unique selling points”, “your differentiating qualities”, “your distinguishing value proposition”, etc.  However what it comes down to is the value that you provide to your customers.  Charles Revson certainly knew his value: HOPE. 

Understanding this value is 70% of your CRM business strategy.  The rest is simple; you simply define how you are going to communicate your value throughout every facet of your organization; from marketing and sales to delivery. To help, ask yourself questions similar to these:

 

  1. What is more important, the product/service you provide to your customer, or the value that you provide to your customer? (my hope would be the later)
  2. Does everyone in your organization understand your value?
  3. Is your value clearly communicated through all you do? (what do you need to change?)
  4. Should your sales process be modified as you focus on this value?
  5. Does changing the process and communication from product/service to value require any changes in the way we track our customer data?
  6. Does the way you view the demographics of your customers (and most importantly your top 20% customers) change as you shift to focus on value?
  7. How does your CRM software system need to be modified to support the value sales methodology?

 

 

Luke Russell 

Resolv, Inc.

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A Faster Horse

A quote that is widely attributed to Henry Ford is the focus of today’s blog post.  The quote is as follows, “If I were to ask my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse” –Henry Ford.  Whether this is actually a quote from Henry Ford is not my point, the point is that oftentimes self diagnosis and prescription does not return the proper results.
 

The Value of a Consultant

Let’s walk through this.  Two brothers own an ice cave and deliver ice to everyone in the town.  They have a horse and cart to deliver the ice.  The cart can hold enough ice for three deliveries, at which point they have to return to the cave to get more ice.  Seeing that there is only so much they can do with their slow horse and cart, they determine that a faster horse is the solution, and go out shopping for a faster horse.
 
This example is overly simplified, but it is repeated thousands of times every day.  People look at their problem, ask one question, and make a determination as to what will best solve the problem.
 
It may be that the brothers even brainstormed other possible resolutions:
  • Get a bigger cart (and return to the cave less often)
  • Get another horse and cart (and double their delivery capacity)
  • Offer discounts for those customers that wish to pick up their ice.
However, it is highly unlikely that either of the brothers in the ice business would have thought about inventing a truck.
 
Our solution to the problem is based upon our knowledge and we limit all resolutions to what we know.  Often we force a resolution to work because we cannot see any other possible solution.  This is where a consultant comes in.  A consultant adds to your knowledge and helps you to expand the possible resolutions to the problem.  Hopefully, a consultant will blow you away with their creative response to the situation.  The true value of a consultant lies in not just offering the solution that the customer is looking for, but in digging to the heart of the issue and providing the most effective resolution.
 
 

Luke Russell 

Resolv, Inc.

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Avoiding a CRM Lemon …

As companies look for CRM systems, they frequently find themselves deluged with so many options and features that it can make one’s head spin. As I said in an earlier blog post (Comparison shopping for CRM software), comparing CRM systems and CRM system quotes is a daunting task.  It is a huge challenge to compare apples to apples.

For the last couple of years, we have had this quote on our web site.  It is called “The Common Law of Business Balance” and is attributed to John Ruskin (1819-1900).  While it was written over one hundred years ago, it still rings true:

“It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot – it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.”

In some documents the quote continues with:

“There is hardly anything in the world that someone can’t make a little worse and sell a little cheaper – and people who consider price alone are this man’s lawful prey.”

Avoid CRM Lemons

Wow, what can I add to that but to say we at Resolv understand your need for cost-effective CRM solutions.  We pride ourselves in our ability to help our clients work through a cost-benefit analysis and then providing various options that help businesses solve their pressing issues.

We offer quality consulting, products and services at a fair price, and are not satisfied unless the solution works for you.  As I said, It’s not easy to compare apples to apples, but it is even harder to spot a lemon, until after you purchased one.

Luke Russell 

Resolv, Inc.

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How a CRM software tool can help with your business strategy

I am often asked for examples for how an integrated CRM software system can help with business strategy, this blog will hopefully serve as a starting point as you consider using CRM software as a tool.

As you probably know from reading my blogs, and from researching CRM on the internet, CRM is not about software.  CRM is a business strategy, and software is a tool that will help you with specific areas of your overall CRM business strategy.  Here is a short list that I have come up with on how an integrated CRM software system can aid a CRM Business Strategy:
 

CRM Sales Stragegy

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
 
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
This by no means is an all-inclusive list (since I think that would be impossible to create).  This list was taken from our seminar “The secrets to customer acquisition, retention and increased profits.”  If you would like to know more about implementing CRM software to coincide with your business strategy, you can request more information here.
 

Luke Russell 

Resolv, Inc.

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