Top 3 initiatives to leverage CRM as a key business-enabler

Set the expectations

“[A] root cause of CRM failure is looking at the projects as software deployments when, in order to take full advantage of the systems’ capabilities, a substantial reorganization must be performed on virtually every operation touching customers.” – John McCormick, Baseline Magazine, ‘A Cheet Sheet For CRM Success’

Too often, companies do not focus enough attention on “what” they would like to achieve.  If the goal is to drive more sales, then how many cold calls each week would make a difference to the bottom line?  If you want more customer intimacy, then how often should your customers be proactively called or visited?  How quickly should a customer service representative resolve an issue for a customer, and what follow-up behavior will best ensure a high-rating on your next customer survey?  By defining clear, quarterly objectives that will help drive sales and ensure rock-solid customer service, it is easier to measure staff on their effectiveness, and ensure your expectations achieve the results you desire.


Make it easy to achieve

“The challenge in CRM is really specific to the sales and marketing applications. Much of the software on the market today helps automate process, but doesn’t necessarily provide incremental value back to the user. Sales people often complain that CRM or SFA is just an administrative burden, and does little more than prove to their boss that they are doing their job. So adoption wanes, and users go back to using familiar tools like spreadsheets, databases or even just Rolodexes.” Robert Bois, AMR Research, ‘CRM Spending Up, but User Adoption Still A Problem’

The common misconception companies make is that a CRM system will allow them to achieve their objectives out-of-the-box.  CRM software is just a tool.  Without a simplified user interface, automated data integration to reduce effort, and custom workflow to automatically move the ball down-field, your CRM investment serves more as a “folder” of information, instead of a proactive business system.  Our vision of CRM is quite simple:  Ensure every management expectation has a defined process, and program those processes into your CRM solution to ensure no one drops the ball.  This is done via workflow agents, system notification, email alerts, and custom reporting.  The goal is to help users meet your expectations, with as little busy-work as possible.  After all, their job is to support and service your customers – not “work” with software.


Create metrics to inspire and challenge

“What gets measured gets done, what gets measured and fed back gets done well, what gets rewarded gets repeated.” – John E. Jones, Organizational Universe Systems

The final key in transforming your CRM initiative into a strategic business enabler is to regularly measure and publish your team’s results.  By making your business processes visible – not just the “wins”, but the losses as well – you create a mentality for continual process improvement.  After all, most employees are winners.  Too often however, they don’t know the score.  Metrics and Dashboards provide a continual set of information for teams, showing them where they are strong, where they are weak, and where they are most effective.


Get Started Now

Everyone has a success mechanism and a failure mechanism. The failure mechanism goes off by itself. The success mechanism only goes off with a goal. Every time we write down and talk about a goal we push the button to start the success mechanism  – Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, American Motivational Speaker & Author

Turning CRM into a true “business enabler” requires focus, hard work, and a solid kick-starter.  So, if your CRM implementation has failed, or you are in the process of getting started, here’s three ideas to get the ball rolling:

  • Book a Strategy meeting today with your Sales Manager, Marketing Manager, Operations Manager, and President.  Set the tone – “reset” your ideas for CRM, and hold a blue-sky session.  If you could view 3 years out, where would you like your company to be?  What would you need to “sell” to get there?  How many sales staff would that require?  How many operations people would be necessary to support the new initiative?  Write it down as a “shopping cart” list.
  • Determine where your teams are functioning well, and where they could improve.  If you don’t know, then now is the time to put some stakes in the ground.  Build a scorecard for each of the following topics, and rate them from 1 to 10 to get a better understanding on where you currently are:Cold calling – Leads / Prospecting
    Repetitive Account Management / Visits
    Quoting – Response time, Follow-up, Proactive proposals
    Education – Communication of Products/Services – For both Sales and Customer Service
    Information – Reacting to reports/metrics, Providing proactive information
    Customer Service – Response time, Follow-up/Documented closure of every request
    Product Quality – Overall quality, Perceived Value/ROI
    Product Delivery – On time / As-expected, On budget
  • Based on the output of the Strategy meeting, and cross-referencing with the lowest scoring team functions, select 1 or 2 items to work on and improve this quarter.  Then next quarter, select 1 or 2 more.  After 12 months of improvement, re-score yourself again, celebrate the improvements, and re-focus on another year of change.