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 bouncy castle for sale 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 bouncy castle 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.


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 jumping castle 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.

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

Harnessing the Value of a Consultant

I have been consulting on CRM (CRM best practices, CRM user adoption, and CRM implementations) for over 13 years.  During this time, I have learned a thing or two about CRM.  I have spoken in over 70 seminars on CRM covering such topics as: Avoiding CRM Pitfalls, Realizing ROI in a CRM implementation, Improving Forecasting, Increasing Customer Retention, etc.  The list is quite long, actually.  So why am I telling you this?  Because, over the past 13 years I have seen many customers successfully harness my knowledge, and the knowledge of my team, to their great profit; I have also witnessed many others who truthfully didn’t gain anything from a relationship with Resolv.  Which brings me to my point, how can you harness the value of a consultant?

First, I believe that a company needs to understand the difference between a "consultant" and a "value added reseller".  According to Webster a consultant is "one who gives professional advice or services : expert"; likewise, according to Wikipedia "A value-added reseller (VAR) is a company that adds features or services to an existing product, then resells it (usually to end-users) as an integrated product or complete ‘turn-key’ solution. This practice occurs commonly in the electronics industry, where, for example, a VAR might bundle a software application with supplied hardware."  Unfortunately these two definitions do not help to draw a difference and there-in lies the inability for some companies to truly harness the knowledge of a consultant.
So, what is the difference?  In my own words (and in relation to CRM) a VAR adds value to their clients by implementing CRM to meet a company’s self-prescribed expectations and guidelines.  Everything they do is related to the product or products they are implementing.  While a consultant may do this, they also do many of the following:
  • Seek to understand the current business and user culture and make recommendations for change related to CRM and CRM system roll-out and integration
  • Review current processes and relay the need to change processes as systems change with recommendations for an improved process
  • Actively seek to avoid known areas of failure and major pitfalls through change management
  • Ultimately, a consultant assesses the weaknesses of an organization (in relation to a CRM implementation) and offers recommendations and solutions to address the weaknesses.  Often a consultant is called upon to assist in implementing the recommendations.
If you always do what you've always done ...Knowing this, it is easy to see why some companies do not receive value from a consultant.  Many companies are simply looking only for a VAR to implement a list of items developed internally, rather than have someone consult with them as to the viability of their ideas and assist them with best practices.  They do this believing that they know their business better (which they do) and they have a solid understanding of what CRM is (most likely not the case); however, they have a fear of change, so they simply seek to implement a CRM system with as little change to their processes, user experience, and existing methodologies as possible.   Therefore, in their reluctance to change, or their fear of change, companies avoid the process and culture sides of a CRM implementation and simply implement features and functions, basically keeping the Mark Twain adage alive: "If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got."  The bottom line:  Simply implementing CRM software is not doing something differently.
The goal of a consultant is to ensure that you don’t always do what you’ve always done in relation to CRM.  But change can be frightening, and is therefore avoided by many companies; even change for the better.  So, companies rely on internal resources (who have got them to where they are now) to implement CRM and the change related to CRM, rather than following the advice of an expert who has multiple times more knowledge of the way to successfully implement CRM software for maximum impact.  Ultimately, A CRM consultant understands the roles process and culture play in the overall implementation of a CRM system and recommends the best course of action for a successful implementation.

Luke Russell 

Resolv, Inc.

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Can CRM Software Improve Efficiency?

Efficiency:   According to 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

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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Maximizing your usage of CRM software

So you decided to make the plunge and implement CRM software, but it is not having the impact you thought it would, what can be done about it?

Maximizing CRM usage

First of all, purchasing and implementing CRM software is the first step, not the last.  Old habits have to change and new processes need to be developed, after all technology is only around 10% of a CRM implementation (see our webpage that talks about technology, process and culture).  But how do you “teach an old dog new tricks,” as they say?

You start out by ensuring the software is delivering what your users require.  The software should enable your users by:


  • Providing data in a timely manner (like up-to-date sales data about your customers that used to be delivered once a month in a report)
  • Providing insights about your customers (like when their last support call was along with a description of the problem)
  • Eliminating the need to create periodic reports (like sales call sheets, etc.  – Most CRM systems should eliminate the need for these reports by proper usage of activities/history and opportunities)
  • Eliminating having to update multiple sources of data (before implementing enterprise CRM the average company has at least 4 sources for customer data including accounting, service, spreadsheets, access databases and Microsoft Outlook)

You follow this up by teaching your users on the proper usage of the software and how it fits into your process.  Then you wait a few weeks and you teach them again.  After awhile, you teach them again.  The goal is to make the software a natural extension of your user.

Finally, you make usage a requirement. You can’t have some people using the system and others doing their own thing.  Your customers are important, and proper setup and usage of a CRM system can provide you with irreplaceable insights into your customers; their buying habits, their values, and their loyalty patterns.  After all, most business experience between 15% and 40% annual customer attrition.  Your CRM system may make all the difference in the world to your bottom line.

Luke Russell 

Resolv, Inc.

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