Probably the most controversial letters in business terminology are c, r and m. I bet all money, ok the ones in my pocket, that I will get hundred different answers, from hundred CEOs from the question: what is a CRM?Or even worse, what is a CRM Project Management?
And I bet, all my money this time, I will get three hundred different answers for the same hundred CEOs from the question: what is the CRM for your company?
The reason is simple. There are two major schools of thought.
- The first manages the processes and outcomes of “some” Customer Relationship technology. The latter implements and manages “the company’s” Customer Relationship strategy. The gap is huge, and matters a lot. Let me elaborate further. In the first school, CEO students seek the tools that provide the most CRM functionality to cover every possible desire from the sales dept. Once “the” tool is purchased they present it to the sales dept with much pride and subsequently enforce its adoption. They enforce the sales team to learn how to use the tool and to adapt their practices into what is governed by the tool.
- In the second school, CEO students learn nothing about technologies. They focus only on designing and implementing (on a clean sheet) a CRM strategy which is fully aligned with the company’s culture and practices and only then are in hunt of the right CRM tool that fits to this strategy.
It might seem that the second approach is old fashion, too conservative and too slow for tracking leads, monitor opportunities and markets in the 21st century business arena. You might be right. After all, it takes time to design, implement and educate a strategy, and time is money. Your sales force desire updated and accurate market information for sure. They also yearn for powerful customer tracking tools and they need easy to create and customize Business Intelligence analytics, graphs, charts etc. But what they despise the most is a change in the way they do their business.
To make sales is not something you learn from seminars or in expensive universities, had to do with humans and as a consequence is a profession strongly linked to culture. To make sales is a combination of psychology, marketing, consultancy and charming. You cannot order a salesman how to be charming. With this in mind a “fit” CRM should assist salesman to:
- Find, Format, Filter marketing data for optimizing every customer interaction.
- Identify and treat each potential customer individually
- Log and link every single transaction (e-mail, offer, phone call, meeting, tasks etc.) with the customer AUTOMATICALLY (Collaboration, Collaboration and again Collaboration!!!)
- Cluster customers based on:
- their current and potential value
- their needs
- efforts spent to gain knowledge of their needs
- Optimize target lists
- Enable collaborative campaigns
As a conclusion, it’s the salesman who should manage the tool and not the other way round!
Androklis Mavridis is an expert in Project Management, Software Quality Assurance, Real Options and decision making in S/W investments