CRM – The Way it Really Is – Guest Blog Post

I am lucky to feature a guest CRM blog post today from Mike Ames who is a Business Development coaching expert.  To find out more information about Business Developmenting Coaching go and have a look at this site .  I would definitely recommend signing up to the free Bracer email which you can find a subscription link on the right of the flair website.

I am currently reading Mike’s ebook  – ‘Business Development for Busy People‘ and you can download a  free chapter  before it’s released in May.

He also has  a good blog – The Mike Ames Business Development Blog and now after all that why don’t you read the article he has written below.

CRM – The Way It Really Is

Look at it this way:  CRM should be less of a computer system that you are forced to use and more of a vital mix of processes and software that you cannot manage without if you want to be a highly effective business developer.

I know it all sounds a bit cliched but with over 20 years of business development experience, most of which has been focused on new client acquisition, I can tell you it happens to be true.  Well, if that is the case why do so many CRM implementations fail?  Let’s start with Mikey’s Magic Three:

1.  Because people are trained how to use the system but not how to make use of the system.  They understand how to add and access data but cannot easily graft this onto their real-life business development activities.  In short they have a system but lack any credible BD processes so they can’t see the point of it so they stop using it.

2.  You choose the wrong system.  Surely one CRM system is pretty much the same as another aren’t they?  No they’re not and here are the key issues:

a)  You cannot change the system yourself, so you have to go back to the vendor to do it.  They charge £400 an hour so you don’t bother even though there is a real business need to make the changes.  After a time your system no longer supports the needs of its users so they find alternative ways to meet those needs usually involving Outlook or spreadsheets.

b)  It does not interface with your existing equipment.  If it doesn’t talk to Outlook or whatever enterprise software you use, forget it.  Even if it does can you access it from your phone, Blackberry or other PDA because if you can’t the data will not be updated or used enough and people will find other ways to do what they need to do.

c)  It doesn’t actually do everything you want it to do mostly because you did not write a detailed requirements document to base your gap analysis on when you assessed the CRM systems you looked at.  You took the one that was cheapest/dearest/flashiest/sold by the most attractive sales person.  Preparation prevents pi$$ poor performance and so do create a requirement document.

3.  The data take-on project is way too ambitious so never gets completed.  People imagine that the system can’t go live until all relevant data is collected from Outlook, spreadsheets, old systems, marketing databases, the accounts package and people’s diaries and loaded onto the new system.  I spent 10 years in IT and here’s the thing:  this is an impossible dream and should absolutely, under no circumstances, be considered.

There are undoubtedly other reasons why CRM installations fail to deliver the results they are capable of but I am going to focus on dealing with these three.

So if you wanted to implement a CRM System that turned into a powerful business development tool leading to more revenue being brought into the firm what should you do?  I would suggest the following simple steps be included in your implementation plan.  There will be other steps but these are specifically intended to deal with the three major causes of failure listed above.

1.  Draw up a requirement definition document.  This will list out all the features, capabilities and outputs the new system will need to meet your business needs.  It should embrace all the key stakeholders such as the IT department, finance, marketing, business development and the users allowing each party to include their thoughts.  Warning:  don’t let it turn into a wish list (or worse a “wouldn’t it be great” list) and don’t design anything by committee.  When it is complete get each of the stakeholders to sign it off.

2.  Train your users.  How can you do this before you get the system I hear you snort.  This is the crucial step because what you are doing is training people in the steps necessary to deliver new clients and a sustainable revenue stream.  Actively encourage people to use Outlook, or similar, to become a pseudo-CRM system where they can record their thin and fat CRM data (see my blogpost for more on this) and build a proper pipeline  This serves two purposes:  firstly it proves what a great tool CRM is to save time and achieve more results with far less effort and secondly it should create a hunger for a better system when it is delivered.

3.  Establishing a steering committee.  Make it delivery focused and not just a talking shop or blame platform.  The idea is to identify, install and use a powerful business development tool so this committee will need strong leadership to keep it on course.  Include the key stakeholders and invite specialists as required.

4.  Seek out your new system.  This is too complicated for me to cover in its entirety but these points are worth noting.  Produce a suitability sheet from your requirements definition document to allow the software vendors to indicate which of your requirements their system meets.  Make sure they all fill yours in and don’t use their own format.  Comparing responses is much easier if they are all in the same format.  Ask your suppliers to suggest the strengths and weaknesses of their competitor’s products.  They tend to be lighter on the strengths but much more detailed on the weaknesses, often telling you crucial things that you would not have ordinarily found out yourself.  Do a detailed gap analysis for each package using a weighting system if necessary.  Take the one that wins.

5.  Install and train.  Once the system has been successfully configured (which may include some customisation but only that which is allowed through the system – avoid bespoke work in the core system) and installed you can start and conduct the Interface training; that is showing people how to use the system.  This is usually the only training given but it is much less effective without stage 2.

6.  Load up key operational data.  Extracting data from accounts systems is usually very easy, as is loading marketing lists.  My advice is to create a flat file which can be cleansed (removed duplicates) and then imported onto the CRM database.  Get it clean before you load it.  As for the rest of the data either hire a couple of temps and get them to load it by hand or you can get the owners of the data themselves to do it.  If you have followed step 2 above they will by now understand the importance of the data and be quite keen to get it into the new system as quickly as possible.  When the data has been fully loaded run more duplicate detection routines based on telephone numbers, email addresses and names to identify and resolve any other possible duplicates.

7.  Go live.  You may decide to stagger implementation by department or by selecting those that were most keen during stage 2 above, or of course, you may just go big-bang.  There are pros and cons with all options and you must decide what is best for you.  I favour the second option.

CRM systems are a crucial aspect of any business development capability. Without them people will be disorganised, wasteful and generally ineffective.  Those CRM solutions that are installed properly can expect to enable their users to deliver more sales in less time – a worthy and noble objective and one that you are quite capable of achieving.

CRM 2011 – New User Licensing explain

I saw this blog post today with the title Microsoft CRM 2011 User Licensing Explained

it explains the licensing changes which have been brought into CRM 2011.  I saw another blog post talk about this before and it was called Microsoft CRM 2011 licensing change explained and you can read that here and it is very useful particularly because it was the first blog I have seen mention any licensing changes and definitely the first one which explained it in a clear and sensible manner.

I blog a little bit about it myself here where I basically highlight the fact the licensing changes will encourage companies to create simple portals which could save the user 90 percent of licensing costs and very useful for users who don’t need the full rich CRM 2011 functionality but just need to see accounts, contact and order information, a simple webpage should suffice their needs.


The new article explains some of the new licensing very well

Microsoft CRM 2011 User Licensing Explained

In addition to a server licence for each server installation of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 a separate Client Access Licence (CAL) is needed for each user who accesses the system.In this post we’ve outlined the different CAL options available with the on-premise edition of Dynamics CRM 2011.

Firstly, there are two CALs with the following usage distinctions:

User CAL – enabling each licensed user to access the CRM Server from any device.

Device CAL – this assigns the CAL to a device so it can be shared by non-concurrent users making this an ideal option for shift workers who share the same device or hot-desk staff in a call centre.

CAL Functionality

The functionality for an on-premise installation of Microsoft Dynamics CRM is controlled by 3 types of CAL:

Dynamics CRM CAL (Full Access)

A full CAL provides complete read-write access to all capabilities within Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011.

With a standard CAL users can view, manipulate, input, query or customise CRM data. Only a full CAL licence includes permissions via CRM clients to access including:

  • Customising dashboards
  • Database administration
  • Managing sales opportunities
  • Workflow automation through CRM processes and dialog scripts
  • Managing marketing campaigns

Limited CAL

In Dynamics CRM v4 a Limited CAL was restricted to read-only access but in Dynamics CRM 2011 the Limited CAL has been expanded to include additional permissions.

For starters, Limited CAL users can now create and amend many of the standard entity records including accounts and leads. This includes permissions to:

  • Create: Accounts, Contacts, Cases, Leads and Activities (including custom activities) using Microsoft Dynamics CRM web, Outlook and mobile clients.
  • Update: Accounts, Contacts, Cases, Leads and Activities created by any CRM user using Microsoft Dynamics CRM clients. Limited CALs also enable the above record type to be associated (or appended) to another so for example, a Limited CAL enables capability to link an activity with a case or to link a contact to an activity.
  • Assign, share & delete: Accounts, Contacts, Cases, Leads and CRM Activities that are created by the same user using Microsoft Dynamics CRM clients.

Further controls is available through an Application Programming Interface to Microsoft Dynamics CRM functionality that can be accessed via any application/graphical user interface (GUI) other than the Dynamics CRM client.
These includes permission to:

  • Create: custom entity records
  • Update: custom entity records that were created by any CRM user
  • Append / Associate: custom entity records with other entities (excluding custom activity records) created by any CRM user.
  • Assign, share and delete: custom entity records created by the same user

These 4 permissions are only available with a Limited CAL through API access.

Not included with a Limited CAL

The Limited CAL doesn’t provide any permission to assign, share or delete records that are created by other CRM users.

Finally, all other entities and CRM functionality have read only access including opportunities, quotes, mail merge, workflows, reports and dashboards. A full CAL is needed to have unrestricted access to all of these functions and entities.

Limited CALs in Summary

Limited CALs are an attractive lower cost option (around 30% of the full CAL price) for light users including analysts or data-entry users in service and telemarketing teams who only need basic access to standard entities including cases, leads, accounts and contacts.

If requirements change a Limited Use CAL can be upgraded to a full CAL for complete CRM functionality by purchasing a Full Use Additive CAL.

Employee Self-Service CAL (ESS)

Dynamics CRM 2011 introduces a new type of CAL that enables internal users to connect with CRM through an Application Programming Interface / GUI without using the standard CRM web or Outlook client interfaces.

The Employee Self-Service CAL is ideal for enabling CRM users to connect to CRM from external applications like Sharepoint, web portals as well as custom applications.

As we’ve listed below, an ESS CAL access is more restricted than a Limited CAL. However, at less than 10% of the cost of a full CAL it’s a cost effective option for sharing access to users in external applications.

As a result, this creates greater opportunity to integrate Microsoft Dynamics CRM with internal applications which previously may have proved cost prohibitive in CRM v4 as this demanded the purchase of full CALs.

An ESS CAL includes permission via API for:

  • Read-only access: to Accounts, Contacts, Cases, Leads, Activities, and Custom entity records.
  • Create: Accounts, Contacts, Cases, Leads, Activities and Custom entities
  • Update & Associate: Accounts, Contacts, Cases, Leads, Activities and Custom entities records created by any CRM user.

The ESS CAL doesn’t include permissions to delete, share or assign records. However, the delete function can be replicated by ‘deactivating’ CRM lead, contacts and other accessible records where required.

ESS CALs can be upgraded to a Limited Use CAL for full read-write access and limited write-access by purchasing a Limited Use Additive CAL.

CRM 2011 – Learn It or Lose It – Why CRM training is vital for success

I read a great article today in the CRM strategy section on the Crmbuyer website

The article had the title – Why does CRM Training get the Short Shrift?

This article made an excellent point which I have seen many times, companies often think that just by a new CRM system that it will magically fix all their problems, they believe not only will it fix the problems which made them buy the new CRM system but it will also fix other problems they didn’t even know they had.

I think this is the same kind of thinking where people think Social media will generate new sales by the bucket load and by creating a blog, getting a few people in the company to tweet a few random things, suddenly they will be fighting customers off.  Unfortunatly it isn’t that easy, creating your blog and twitter account is just the start of a long journey where you learn to use them.

CRM is a huge topic with a vast scope just plonking users in front of CRM, even CRM 2011 with it’s fancy dashboards isn’t going to help them not only know how to use CRM but importantly what CRM can do and how they can use it to solve their CRM problems or just increase efficiency of the companies CRM.

I think if a company doesn’t give it’s employees training in the capabilities of CRM then how can it expect the users to know how to use CRM and know what parts of CRM will help them solve certain problems.  I think it would be similar to buying someone a fancy sports car but then not showing them how to change gear so they just spend all the time driving slowly in first gear wondering why this car was so expensive.

The article has some fantastic quotes

Good training should inspire as well as inform; by seizing the opportunity that training presents, you can get your employees thinking not just about how to use the application but about new ways to use data. Remember that CRM is always a work in progress, and it’s always good to have help with that progress from the people who are closest to the customer.

This highlights one of the most important points of CRM, it’s about people taking control of their data.  CRM 2011 allows you to report and analyise all the data you put into CRM.  This allows people to start looking at their data in different ways, reporting on information they haven’t reported on before.  To do this you need to be taught how to manipulate the information in CRM you would find it difficult to get the most of CRM 2011.

These two paragraphs are very persuasive as to why companies should not look at CRM training as an extra cost they avoid paying, in the end it is costing them because they are not maximising their CRM software or getting the most out of their employees.

How and Why

First, training not only allows your employees to be competent in using the application — it also offers an opportunity to demonstrate exactly how the application will help them do their jobs.

Adoption is the big CRM killer, and without an understanding of both the mechanics of the application and the reasons for its implementation, users will be less likely to embrace the technology.

Second, good training should inspire as well as inform; by seizing the opportunity that training presents, you can get your employees thinking not just about how to use the application but about new ways to use data. Remember that CRM is always a work in progress, and it’s always good to have help with that progress from the people who are closest to the customer. That’s going to include a lot of folks who interact directly with the CRM application.

Finally, training needs to be an ongoing thing, at least for managers or people who can serve as internal trainers for your organization. CRM vendors introduce new features on a regular basis — especially in SaaS applications — and expecting employees to unilaterally catch on to how these features work and how they can help them do their jobs is rather presumptuous.

Learn It or Lose It

Without a bit of training to update them every so often, the amount of CRM horsepower you’re paying for that goes unused will grow over time. From the simple perspective of maximizing your investment, training is an important part of your CRM strategy.

This all seems clear in the right context. Why is training such an issue? I think the vendors are somewhat culpable. How many times have you heard about a SaaS application that was installed, up and running in a weekend, or less? When you hear such tales, you assume that the application’s actually being used by employees — so clearly, training is of minimal importance, right? Well, no.

Vendors ought to be more realistic in how they frame these stories. More importantly, they need to function increasingly as consultants to their customers, helping them with the soft-skills parts of creating a CRM strategy. That includes people and processes. Training fits neatly into that mix.