Full disclosure: CRM won't work miracles
Do you believe everything some CRM salespersons tell you about the no-cost of implementing your software and all its benefits that won’t require you to lift a finger? (They don’t mean to lie; they’re just using the “rose-colored glasses” sales approach.)
Or do you have realistic expectations that a successful implementation does require an investment of some time, energy and financial resources?
Take it from an insider: realistic expectations are the way to go. The best CRM out there won’t achieve results without some effort, especially up front. But it’s worth it.
At least businesses have it easier today than back in the early 1980’s, when I originally started developing a customer management system for a business of mine. Back then, the IBM PC was building momentum. PC applications were scarce at the time: the one I adapted to was Aston-Tate's dBASE. It allowed you to create a set of custom application data entry forms, link them together with a set of menus, and save this data into a scalable database. It took me much of that summer to create my customer management system for tracking information about companies and people. Yes, it was WORK – a good, honest four-letter word.
Skip ahead nearly 30 years, and we’ve moved through sales force automation systems into CRM, or customer relationship management systems. However, even with today’s better tools for managing company and contact information, success requires WORK.
But it’s worth it. And unlike me in those early days, you don’t have to go it alone.
The Fruits of Work Are Worth It:
- Employees become more engaged and confident that they are providing prospective and current customers with valuable answers in a timely way.
- Knowledge becomes a valuable business asset : why and how your customers buy, who the strong competitors are and how you can beat them, which employees have a quality relationship with people in your customer base, what customer-centric processes work well, and more.
Success Requires Work
A successful CRM implementation doesn’t stop with buying software access, installing, setting some configuration settings and watching some training videos.
Work is required for the CRM investment to bear fruit.
Do the work up front so when you go live, your business can work smarter.
Do the work of thought. Think through who, what, when, where, why and how your people will use it. Plan your CRM strategy and tactics.
Do the work of communicating. In listening to the stakeholders -- those who will be affected -- you will better understand their concerns. What are their needs and wants, and how can you include them in planning and determining system requirements? How can you communicate how CRM will help them be successful at their job? How will the project pilot team and the management team communicate?
Do the work of designing and testing. All your listening will make clear the need for customization of the CRM system. What forms need to be modified, labels changed, new prompts added, business logic modified?
Do the work of deciding. What will be done first, second, third, and so forth? What will be delayed or skipped? What will be your time frame for testing? Putting off decisions often leaves an implementation project rudderless.
Do the work of educating all potential stakeholders. What best practices will be passed on? How can you best use the knowledge of your CRM consultant in the educational process?
Do the work of reviewing the pilot team's feedback and progress. Will the results of the review send you back to the drawing board because a built-in feature is not what you expected? Or is the review very positive, showing significant leaps in CRM engagement? Are the stakeholders better served than before? Will your customer be better served?
Do the work of refinement. Tweaks will be minimal if you did the previous work well. Adding a few more user-defined fields, clear wording in drop down lists, and improved business logic are worth the effort for optimum efficacy. More clarity will prevent data errors, keeping the information clean so you can make those important business development decisions with confidence.
OH! And there is one more important type of work: finding the best CRM professional partner.
A consulting firm with people you mesh well with on this CRM journey.
Who work to find, engage, educate and pass on knowledge to your team.
Who are right there beside you as you invest the work of thought, communication, design and testing, decision making, education, reviewing, and refinement?
There are better ways
You don’t have to go it alone. In fact, you shouldn’t. An expert consultant with CRM implementation experience can make your WORK more focused, productive, and personalized to your way of doing business. Your productivity and strategic leadership are worth it.