The 4 Es of CRM Success

The 4 Es of CRM Success

Whether you have a CRM system in place, or are looking to implement CRM, remember the 4 Es and you CRM success is almost assured.  Ignore them, and the only thing you will be getting from your CRM system is complaints and blame.

 1)      Enable

When you enable your users with CRM, you give them the means to accomplish their job.  It goes without saying that accomplishing this should be easier than without a CRM system.  If your CRM system is not an enablement tool for your users, it will be used only through coercion. Continue reading →

Growth By Accident?

Growth By Accident?

Richard James invented the slinky by accident (read the slinky story: and it became a wildly successful toy over the past 40 years.  Although some things are found by accident and become extremely successful; I am sure that is not the way you want to run your business!  It is critical for your sales and marketing force to know whether their approach is effective or not.  Continue reading →

Increasing Sales Without Increasing The Size of Your Sales Force

Increasing Sales Without Increasing The Size of Your Sales Force

Day in the life a salesmanOn average, your sales people spend less than two hours a day selling.  This is according to Mark Ellwood, President of Pace Productivity Inc. (Mark’s report is here.)  Paul Vinogradov agrees with Mark in his post.  In fact, a simple goole search on how sales people spend their time will tell you that your sales people most likely spend the majority of their time on non-sales activities.  Continue reading →

The Unintentional Killing of CRM

The Unintentional Killing of CRM

Over my last fifteen years of facilitating CRM implementations, there are two programs that have been the unintentional death of CRM within many organizations:


In their efforts to implement a corporate calendar, increase mobility of CRM data, or simply to placate user’s demands, many organizations implement some sort of integration between their CRM system and Microsoft Outlook for the synching of calendars and contacts.  Often, this integration is clunky (a technical term for bloated and difficult to use) and fraught with issues. 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 →

Questions To Think About As You Move Toward CRM: Part 2

What Is Your Business Strategy In Relation to CRM?

Without a doubt we live in a society that has come to expect instant gratification.  The advancements of technology continue to feed this expectation and our tolerance for dissatisfaction in these technological advances is minimizing every day.  A practical example:  Apps for I pads (I products).  How many times have you searched the App store for something, downloaded the freebie only to be disappointed because it didn’t do exactly what you wanted exactly the  way you wanted, so you deleted it just as quickly?  So, your frustrated it wasn’t right, and it was FREE!  Hmmm? Wow, we expect a lot don’t we?

So let’s apply the reality of instant gratification to the customers of your business and their experiences with it.  Have you as an organization taken the subjective step backwards and evaluated your business strategy and mission in relationship to the ever progressing expectation of instant gratification?  Let’s face it, most businesses realize very quickly they don’t measure up to the advancements of Apple or even Amazon for that matter.  If your conclusion from this brief assessment is that they have set the bar too high and you will continue to plug along as always, you may find yourself left in the dark in the near future.  Deep down you know this, but where do you start?

It feels like an insurmountable task to compare the level of instant punapharmacy gratification that is becoming the norm to your existing (maybe antiquated) business model.  You have limited resources, such as funding and people.  Where do you start?  How do you manage this among the many other projects pulling you in multiple directions?

The most important dollar you might invest in your business is putting the pieces of this puzzle together.  As a business owner or senior manager you bear the responsibility to provide the top down directive of comparing your business to the uber businesses in instant gratification and writing customer satisfaction into your business strategy (whatever that means to your business and industry).  Ignoring the gap will only widen the gap and put you further behind.

There are ways to improve customer satisfaction and provide the instant gratification they seek for much less than you might expect through a CRM software solution.  Work with an expert CRM service provider to help you make this project, that feels gargantuan, manageable and affordable.  You can’t do everything yourself, and you shouldn’t punish yourself for not being the expert in every aspect of your business, especially one as ever evolving as technology.  You are doing your job, and doing it well, when you write the strategy that achieves customer satisfaction and instant gratification for your client, and more importantly take the steps to achieve that mission.

Questions To Think About As You Move Toward CRM: Part 1

How Do You Define CRM (Customer Relationship Management) In Your Organization?

I talk to businesses every day that are either considering purchasing CRM software or are considering purchasing a different CRM software because the first one they purchased isn’t working the way they hoped it would.  Before you do anything else, STOP!, and read this!

There are a series of questions you need to ask yourself before making a CRM software selection.  The first question is, how do you define CRM in your organization?  Keep in mind, we are not asking you to describe the features and functions of a software.  We are asking about Customer Relationship Management.  The acronym stands for a term that is the heart and soul of a CRM software implementation success.  That same term is the heart and soul of the success of your business as a whole.  Without happy customers a business will not stay open for very long regardless of the product or service they provide.

The answer we are digging for is the process that defines that customer satisfaction and is unique to your business.  Why do your customers come to you?  This question will undoubtedly open up the flood gates of many questions, all of which need to be answered before a new customer management software solution can be implemented.    Once you have been able to bactrimsale define why your customers come to you, and the process that has ultimately created their satisfaction with your products or services you need to ask yourself if everyone throughout the organization knows that answer.

It is a mistake to make decisions that impact customer satisfaction in a bubble.  Reach out to your key customer facing employees and discuss the process with them.  Did you have the answer to the question right? Did you know the process? What did they add to the definition?  Who is most passionate about that process and why?  Is the process as straightforward and precise as it should be or are there redundancies across departments? Does the process look and feel seamless to the customer? Where might they see bottlenecks and encounter frustration?

The next step is to ascertain what benefits a single source of customer facing data (CRM solution) and the automation of a CRM software could provide.  This part gets tricky for a business that does not have a CRM expert on staff.  Our recommendation is to reach out to a CRM expert at this point and ask that question.  How can CRM software make our processes better and make our customers happier?  If this isn’t your ultimate goal, STOP!, step back and start over. 

Who Is The Consumer In A CRM Implementation?

My background is working for large manufacturing companies who produce Consumer Goods.  In that industry we call the end user “the consumer”.  By definition a consumer is one who “uses up” something or is “engrossed” or “devours”.  Devour.  I like that word.  It’s a passionate word.  In the CRM industry, we want nothing more than for the users to devour the product we provide.  We want them to “use it up” everyday and come back the next day insisting to use it again.

In the CRM sales process, we typically work with senior management.  As it should be.  The purchase decision for a process and culture changing solution for a company should always come from the top.  But who really, is the consumer for this tool?  Who will devour it?  Who will insist that it be there for future consumption?  Depending on the organization, the answer to that question will vary.  Sometimes the CEO of the company is masterful at using CRM.   More often however, it’s those who have direct responsibility for the customer.  It’s the sales team, it’s customer service reps, it’s marketing managers that are the CRM consumers.

In the consumer goods industry we would spend countless hours (and dollars) researching, developing and producing products that the end user, the consumer, would devour.  We would allocate tremendous resources to consumer focus groups, graphic design, and marketing tag line development to create demand by the consumer.  It’s not always about filling an existing need (a demand), but bringing awareness to the consumer they have a need (creating a demand).

If you have made the determination you are going to implement CRM software at your organization, who is your consumer?  I mentioned earlier that the purchase decision for CRM typically comes from the top.  That means a board, or a senior management committee in most cases. As a member of that board or chosen team, have you given any consideration to how you will create demand for the product you are introducing to the consumer (your employees)?

CRM is a tool that can truly revolutionize the way you go to business.  It can propel you to a level of efficiency and ultimately success you have not been able to achieve in the past.  Without it, your competition (who does have CRM) will capture your market share. These are compelling facts that are a very solid foundation for a consumer marketing message.

Implementing, or maximizing the use of your existing CRM, is one of the most important strategic decisions your company will make.  It’s at least as important as the launch of another new product, if not more so.  Shouldn’t you create an internal marketing campaign for the consumers of  your CRM?  Just like with the launch of a new product, it could mean the difference between success and failure.

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!

#1 Key to CRM Implementation Success: User Adoption

CRM User AdoptionI was recently asked what I believe drives a successful CRM implementation.  Is it glitzy software?  Is it solving a big problem with a lot of ROI?  Is it having a project sponsor that pushes CRM down the corporation’s throat?  My answer is simple, you can have the latest and greatest software with all the bells and whistles, but without incorporating the change into your users everyday lives, your CRM implementation will be a miserable failure.  User Adoption is the number one key to CRM success.
 If that is the case (and let’s say for the sake of argument, that I am right on this point) it stands to reason that the speed of user adoption is critical.  Therefore, user adoption planning and education needs to start prior to the CRM implementation.  It begins with understanding your users and defining the key factors that will encourage or hinder CRM adoption.  This includes looking at your users current skill-sets, job descriptions, behaviors, and attitudes.  It also includes reviewing your organizational processes (or lack of processes), communication plans, and leadership culture.
Understanding these things helps to improve adoption as you shape your CRM adoption strategy.  It helps you to design the software with the user in mind, and helps you to determine just where CRM fits into your organizational processes.
Many associate training with learning, and while training is a step in the leaning process, there is much more to it.  Learning may start with training and communication, but has to include a feed-back mechanism and opportunities for reflection and application.  Before, during and after your CRM implementation it is key that you work with your users to understand what is working and what is lacking in the learning process.  Don’t be afraid to try new things and toss out those that aren’t working.
One of the most effective ways to facilitate learning and drive CRM user adoption is to make the CRM system essential to your users.  This means to give your users more out of CRM than you are expecting them to input.  Things like sales by product line by account for a period of time, open orders, outstanding invoices, and industry data about an account make CRM an invaluable tool to your users. This facilitates decision making, and drives users into CRM on a regular basis.  
Incorporating CRM into your processes is another way to make it essential, and ensures that your CRM implementation is in alignment with your organizational processes.
The role of software:
If you know me at all, you will have seen the chart showing that a CRM implementation is only about 10% technology.  They other 90% is process and culture.  In other words, people.  Keep this in mind when you are working on your CRM adoption strategy.  Its not about the technology.  Its about your people.
I have seen many companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on what they believed to be the best looking, glitziest CRM believing that would drive user adoption.  Everyone was sorely disappointed when they realized there is no correlation between the slickness of the software and user adoption.   I’m not surprised, since software is only 10% of the equation.
Adoption strategy:
Finally, write out your adoption strategy.  Assign ownership of the strategy.  This should be someone with the authority and required resources to initiate and maintain CRM user adoption.  
Be sure to include in your strategy a list of your current user types, and what you can do to facilitate adoption prior to, during, and after your CRM implementation.  Keep in mind; however, that your adoption strategy will need to change as you receive feedback from your users.