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.

2 thoughts on “CRM – The Way it Really Is – Guest Blog Post

  1. Rebecca Sharpe October 31, 2011 / 4:44 am

    As a current user of Sitecore my company has shortlisted Microsoft Dynamics 2011 as a CRM supplier. This is based on claims that the 2 integrate ‘seamlessly’. I’m wondering, from those of you have chosen this path, what are the pros and cons and are there any suppliers that can be recommended for Australia?


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