The CRM Debate Goes On: Do We Really Need It?

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Over the years, we’ve worked with literally thousands of companies considering a CRM system. Big companies, small companies, in-between companies. Some bought ours, some bought someone else’s, and some did nothing. It is this last group that this paper addresses.

I recently polled an industry group of manufacturers who sold capital equipment and services to a narrow, B2B market segment. Their sales cycles are long, complex, and varied, the competition is stiff, and the repeat business substantial. A dream market for CRM. Over half of them have no CRM system, and no active plans to implement one.

One part of me says “great, more sales opportunities for me.” Another part says, “why not?”

The reasons I hear (and interpret):

  • “We don’t need it.”

This is usually accompanied by “Excel/ Outlook/ Quickbooks/ Other works just fine.” But you do need it. You think you don’t because business is going along as it always has, so why rock the boat? The answer is because your customers and competitors are already rocking the boat, and you’re gonna get swamped sooner or later.

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Successful CRM Implementation #4: The Checklist

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Reading about CRM implementation is one thing, and actually doing it is another one altogether. To maybe help the transition from theory to practice, here is a checklist of all the things that you need to consider and do as described in the first three installations.

We have included the full paragraph of each checklist item for context, and then listed the steps you should be taking. Here it is.

  1. To preclude either of these outcomes, the existing state of the business has to be reviewed in detail to see how the new technology will fit. Bad procedures have to be cast aside and effort given to developing new ones that will work with your technology of choice.
    1. Review the existing state of the business.
    2. Identify and eliminate bad procedures.
    3. List the necessary new and replacement procedures.

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Successful CRM Implementation #3: Make It Work

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In this installment, we’ll take a look at the remaining steps to a successful CRM implementation, starting with your processes.

Hone up the Processes

Process is intrinsic to CRM systems—they live and breathe through process. But these are not processes based on moving paper around from desk to desk, these are electronic processes that move around instantaneously on a computer network. Existing processes will inevitably need to be tweaked or changed before the CRM project gets underway, and new ones will need to be developed to take advantage of the technology. The better and more freely-flowing the old process, the easier it is to duplicate it on the computer.

Bring the groups together that are responsible for processing all of the customer’s transactions and look how information flows between them. Is it efficient, and does it work? How will it work when the computer is pushing digits instead of people pushing paper? When you try to move a paper system to an electronic one, current problems will surface very quickly. Moving to CRM provides an excellent excuse to get on a new page and to fix the disruptions, road blocks, and delays caused by established bad or poorly-defined practices.

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Successful CRM Implementation #2: Develop the Plan

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Even before the CRM system is specified, researched, and purchased, there should be discussion amongst all the functional groups within the company that might be impacted, and that will be pretty much the entire company. In these discussions, the previously defined vision will begin to permeate through the organization. Just like any project, if there is no plan to translate the vision and change into a working system, things are bound to go awry.

The plan will include an overview of what has to be fixed and a detailed operational description of how and when to do each step. Key people will be assigned as stakeholders and will take charge of the piece of the project that they control or influence. Goals must be set, expectations must be aligned with real tasks, and measurement criteria has to be identified and assigned.

These can vary in scope depending on their expected impact. A sales manager may set down the goal of having an accurate day-to-day bookings forecast available. Someone in sales administration may want to see clean customer information in one place. A CEO may demand real-time information about, well, virtually anything. CRM is so all-encompassing that each company will have its own unique set of aspirations. The important thing is to get them written down in a plan. That is the only way the success of the project can be monitored.

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Successful CRM Implementation #1: Getting it right first time

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Over the years my team has been involved in a large number of CRM implementations to all types and sizes of company. I think we’ve done a good job overall. One reason for this is our CRM technology was developed for running our own sales distribution company – we learned on the job.But still, today, over twenty years since the idea of CRM was first developed lots of CRM projects are failing or not getting the traction they deserve.

The next four posts are from material we wrote a few years ago, tuned up for changes that have occurred since then (although there haven’t been many.)

If you are just getting into CRM or having a rethink on how your current system is working these posts will be of interest.

Keith Thompson
Sept 13, 2016

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Probability and Priority – Do You Need An Umbrella?

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Recently I heard a piece on National Public Radio about probability in weather forecasting. The central question was, what does a 20% chance of rain really mean? To some it meant take an umbrella, while to others it meant pack up the kids for a picnic. To statisticians, it meant that when you look at the 1,000 days with the closest variables to the day you are in, it will rain on 200 of them.

In the first case, you’re risk averse and probably a little pessimistic. In the second, you’re a risk-taker and willing to play the odds. As the statistician, your value lies in being able to provide the basis for the decisions of the other two.

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Full-Service CRM: Completing the CRM Cycle

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While many companies still struggle with implementing even the most basic CRM solutions, others have moved a big step forward by including their service organization and letting it share customer information with marketing and sales. Service contributes to a company’s success in many ways, and understanding this contribution makes the performance impact of an integrated CRM solution obvious and significant.

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The Business Apps That Shaped Our Organizations

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Salespeople are the most avid users of business apps, and I think the “Holy Trinity” of business apps would be for Word Processing, Spreadsheets, and Presentations. I might just as well say, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft PowerPoint. Microsoft still dominates the market for Windows-based business applications software. It wasn’t always like that though. I’ve written about Microsoft stifling innovation in a previous article, and I was reminded about how widespread this has been when I did some research on cameras in phones.

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The Evolution of Computational Selling – What You Need To Know About Sales Automation

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Regular HUB readers will know that at SalesWays we are constantly looking to improve sales performance using technology – that’s been a mission of mine since my early career in sales and my first personal computer. This is referred to as “sales force automation” and I’ve never really liked the term. It sounds too military for me—I see images of rows of salespeople lined up in battle formation. SFA spun out from “contact management” which involved PCs maintaining databases of names, addresses and other customer data. Attempts to store details of sales opportunities morphed it into SFA. As the information expanded in scope and involved workflow between other departments in the company, the terminology Customer Relationship Management (CRM) took over and quickly became the norm. Now most people are confused between SFA and CRM—trust me, my company sells both products and we find it hard to quickly convince people of the difference.

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Google’s Pokémon Challenge and What That Means For Businesses and Sales Teams Alike

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Do you love Pokémon and want to work at Google? Well, if you follow their challange, you could become Google’s Pokémon Master and earn yourself a spot in the final round of hiring at Google, starting September 1st 2014. Simply open your Google Maps app on your Android or iOS Smart Phone to begin exploring the world and catching Pokémon. Sounds awesome right? Well, while I sit here and wish it were true, I too was fooled by Google’s latest April fools prank.

It wasn’t until I frantically searched through the comments on the Google Maps: Pokémon Challenge YouTube video, that reality sunk in. Yes, I had been an avid Pokémon fan growing up, but more impressive to me is the technology behind this concept. Google Maps for mobile is the world’s most popular app for smartphones and part of that success is due to how much information and big data Google has managed to package together.

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