Category Archives: Process Automation

Time to put your CRM system on a features diet!

Yes it’s true when your company departmental leadership team gets finished with a CRM project they have included the sky, the moon and the stars as desired functionality but what you get as a user is a bloated unusable CRM system.

My recommendation is to put your CRM platform on a CRM features diet and get lean and mean if you want strong user adoption.  The key message is priorities your features & configurations based on the benefits you are trying to deliver to the end user community ala sales, marketing and service teams who have to live within the system you build.

Ideas on how to execute on your CRM features diet to create immediate impact or benefit to the user might be:

  • Clean up forms and only include required database fields.  Ask yourself why you need specific information and when was the last time anyone used a specific field.
  • Provide drop down selections to keep data consistent and clean.
  • Integrate with 3rd party data providers to insure data is up to date and relevant.  My personal favorite can be found here!
  • Build automated process to eliminate repetitive tasks.
  • Call your top 3 sales, service and marketing eagles up and ask them what can be done in the CRM platform to deliver a better solution.
  • Consider a cloud based deployment to minimize IT involvement.
  • Incorporate a 3rd party marketing tool to drive drip marketing campaigns that provide relevant and actionable data.
  • Ask the users what personalization they are after and then deliver it by role in a real time dashboard!
  • Eliminate screens, commands, views and reports not relevant to the targeted users.
  • Toss in telephony integration with screen pops to give back something to users!
  • CRM now equals mobile so make sure you deliver on this as a top user priority.

Make CRM system adjustments a ongoing priority and your organization will demonstrate successful, repeatable processes with performance measurements that will deliver strong CRM user adoption.

– Tracy

The DNA of a Sales Rainmaker!

One thing is for certain if you are tagged as the “Rainmaker” in your company you can count on your quota going up year over year!   You can also count on your peers and leadership team looking over your every move to understand you’re DNA.  During this week’s blog I will focus on what I think makes up the DNA of a Sales Rainmaker and point out the tools that must be sprinkled in to keep the DNA in check. 

Below are 8 “DNA” qualities I think make up a great sales professional:

Patient “It takes 7 sales touches to win a deal” – Author Unknown

Creative “You need 2.5X in pipeline to make revenue goals” – Author Unknown

Performer “Work hard & get lucky” – Friend CS!

Multitasker “80/20 rule or 20% of your prospects make up 100% of your goal” – Author Unknown

Fearless, “Treat every day like its month, quarter or year end and you will exceed plan” – Me

Honest “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you” – Jesus

Persistent ”There is no one giant step that does it. It’s a lot of little steps.” – Peter A. Cohen

Embracer“If the deal is not identified in our CRM system you don’t get paid” – Your Sales Mgt.

The need for tools to glue the DNA strands together:

According to the Just Sell Blog a sales process consists of Prospect, Interview, Analyze needs, Present, Negotiate, Close, Service & follow up.  Multiply that many steps across multiple prospects and you have ingredients for disarray.  Add to this the need to harness the power of Social CRM channels and your rainmakers will quickly loose their mojo and become reactive vs. prescriptive in their rain dances! 

The Recommended Tools:

  1. CRM platform that gives back value.
  2. Sales intelligence platform to tell you who you should call.
  3. Mobile sales platform allowing your staff to use the mobility tools they want in order to update the CRM system you have in place. 
  4. Strong sales leadership.
  5. Effective compensation plans that have sales teams and sales leadership in alignment.

Incorporation of these ideas and others provided through the resource links will drive your company in the right direction around sales excellence and good customer relationship management!

–          Tracy

A great sales blog authored by Kelley Robertson on the 6 Reasons why sales people need to watch American Idol.

The Chris Farley picture referenced in this blog is for education purposes.  All Rights Reserved to Chris Farley Movies.

CRM shouldn’t stop with the closed sale!

When was the last time you had a good customer onboarding experience?  What I am referring to is the period just after a sale is transacted and the sales staff is off hunting the next big game.  I struggle to remember one personally but really believe this could be the secrete sauce as they say to building that customer loyalty and brand we all strive to achieve.

In this week’s blog I want to provide some onboarding suggestions to all organization utilizing a CRM platform today.

Define a 12 month onboarding process.  Some initial ideas below to consider:

  • Initial thank you communication with key entry level resources a new customer could benefit from such as customer service phone numbers, training resources and links to FAQ’s.
  • 30 day out survey to gain understanding of customer experiences.
  • Drive to strengthen your customer community!  60 day out communication sharing information on user groups and customer conferences.
  • 90 day out communication on additional value add services or products that your customer might have an interest in.  This step should be followed up with a phone call to gain critical customer feedback/experiences.
  • 6 month touch point to request customer reference and written case studies.
  • 9 month communication to provide notice on any possible renewal fees or warranty expirations.  These notifications should land once per month for the remaining 90 day period of the first year.
  • 12 month customer loyalty thank you letter with relevant new product enhancements and upgrade options.

Once you have agreement on #1 move to the Process automation  phase.  This should be a fairly standard feature with most CRM systems out of the box so why not use it?

Incorporate social CRM channel feedback in your process.

Always include your extended value add channels in your process.  Many organizations leverage an extended support, delivery or implementation channel to insure their products or solutions are delivered.

Be prepared to make adjustments!  Defining the process for customer onboarding is important but always question the process and how your organization through social CRM feedback can improve on the model.

Incorporation of these ideas and others provided through the resource links below will help create a recipe for driving your company in the right direction around good customer onboarding & long term loyalty!

–          Tracy

Best Practices: Customer Onboarding, Forrester Research. A Visible Target During Economic Uncertainty by Craig Le Clair

Onboarding – How Do You Welcome Your New Customers? By Barb Lyon

Customer onboarding: Could new practices produce programme success?

Out with the old CRM and in with the new!

I have never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions as I think too many people set themselves up with unrealistic goals and ultimately fail.  I am a bigger fan of making small business and physical fitness changes in my life that can provide quick and measurable impact.  This year instead of sitting around trying to come up with a resolution I just grabbed a trash bag and headed into my office for a major clean out.  When I was done I felt liberated and ready to tackle the New Year with a well-organized office. On the physical fitness front, I decided to forgo my typical weight training routine in place of a yoga class.  I measured my short term success with this by the next day pain I felt all over my body!  I am sold on the stress reduction benefits, coordination and flexibility thing as I was trying to master the downward dog!

I suggest taking this same approach with your existing CRM platform and make minor modifications to the system in order to receive new and immediate benefits with focus on CRM end-user give backs.  Below is a short list of suggestion on how you can take your old CRM system and make it feel like new again and win back user adoption!

  1. Time how long it takes an average user to do the top required tasks in your system.  Start with the creation of an activity, entering a new contact and creating a new opportunity.  Your goal should be to cut your time in half on every required task you evaluate.  This can be done by reducing the number of required fields on entry or turning many fields into a pick list entry.  Your organization should be asking yourself why you are capturing the information and who is benefiting from it?
  2. Introduce a more usable way to access the CRM system.  Sure everyone provides a desktop client but do you really want your sales force sitting at their desk or in front of prospects and or customers? CRM Sales Mobility is an easy way to start winning back your selling organization by allowing them to use the mobility tools they want in order to update the CRM system you have in place. 
  3. Send out a survey to your user base and ask what is liked and disliked around your system.  Although the survey hyperlink in this article is more customer facing in nature, it will give you some great suggestions on how to set up, execute and measure a survey.  I see this as the best way to keep your users engaged in the process of user adoption and avoid CRM failure.  This should not be a onetime thing, but something that you perform on an annual basis for process and system improvement.
  4. Take the time to automate a process that is a time sucker!  This goes back to supporting the #1 point in the list.  If the system can do it then let the system do it not the users.  If a new lead comes in off your web site as an example, then stop asking your sales organization to create a new opportunity to support the pursuit.  Most CRM systems come with inherent work-flow tools so script repeatable processes like the creation of a new contact and opportunity record with assigned tasks for the users.
  5. Measure CRM system use then make it competitive and fun!  Another mistake most companies make is they do not have a good feel for who is using their CRM system and how.  Many CRM vendors have add on tools like the one featured via the hyperlink that will allow you to publish who is using the system on a regular basis.  Doing this will creates a competitive environment which most sales people thrive in.  Sounds strange but giving recognition and awards on a quarterly basis for good and consistent CRM usage can drive the level of adoption off the charts!

Make CRM system adjustments a priority in the New Year and your organization will demonstrate successful, repeatable processes with performance measurements that will deliver strong CRM user adoption.

– Tracy

CRM Sales Mobility – Quotas Untethered!

Guest Writer – Derek Warburton

There’s a new Aberdeen Group Benchmark Report – Sales Mobility: Quotas Untethered and its hot off the press! This report touches on various mobility technologies, with a strong focus an on CRM Mobility.  The research was completed in September and October 2010, and based on a survey of 269 end user organizations, and their real world experience. In other words, this report isn’t based on an analyst’s opinion, but rather on the actual experience of businesses that are planning on, or have already deployed, some sort of sales mobility solutions.

Like all Aberdeen Research Reports, the research and report are in no way influenced by vendors. TenDigits was able to acquire semi-exclusive distribution rights, to ensure our community can access this report free of charge (as opposed to the $399 standard fee).

At the highest level, this report addresses the following:

“Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Sales Force Automation (SFA) access via smartphones has been available for some time – indeed, Mobile CRM access has proven to increase team attainment of quota by 26% (Source: Sales Intelligence, Preparing for Smarter Selling, Aberdeen February 2010) – but to what extent are Best-in-Class Sales teams utilizing mobile selling solutions ?” (Source: Aberdeen Group November 2010)

At a more detailed level, the study focuses on the following:

  • The degree to which sales mobility is deployed in organizations and the impact it has on achieving business success
  • The structure, effectiveness and satisfaction with existing sales mobility implementations
  • Current and planned use of sales mobility tools to achieve desired change in revenue, quota and deal size
  • The benefits, if any, that have been derived from sales mobility initiatives

From a research structure perspective, Aberdeen applies their concept of “Best-in-Class” companies. In the case of this study, “Best-in-Class” represent the Top 20% of the aggregate of performance scores, specifically: Achievement of Sales Quota, Average year-over-year improvement in Customer Retention, and Average year-over-year increase in average Sales Lead Conversion rates.  They then associate the practices and related outcomes, of Best-in-Class companies and compare to other companies, as it relates to their use of Sales Mobility.

So what were the results?

There are dozens of figures and charts, and virtually all of them strongly indicate that Best-in-Class companies approach sales mobility differently than other companies, and are more likely to have enabled their teams with mobile CRM solutions.  The results are quite compelling and for the most part should be read in the context of the entire report.

I have listed a few tidbits of information here (Source for all: Aberdeen Group November 2010):

  • “While not all companies deploy sales mobility, those that do, outperform those that do not across a myriad of measures, including overall team attainment of quota, lower sales turnover, as well as better year-over-year growth around revenue, customer renewals, deal size and CRM adoption”  Source: Aberdeen Group November 2010
  •  “Survey results show that firms enjoying Best-in-Class performance share several common characteristics including:  78% support remote viewing and modification of key CRM sales information…” 
  •  “44% of Best-in-Class consider sales mobility initiatives “absolutely vital to the health of our company, regardless of cost” compared with 26% of other companies.”

There’s even a url within the report that provides access for the reader to take an On-line Assessment, to compare their company’s practices and performance against Best-in-Class companies, and provides a free personal Scorecard.

On the whole, the findings strengthen the case that CRM Mobility is no longer just a “nice to have tool” for some of the sales team. Rather, CRM mobility, in organizations where sales staff is frequently in the field, is a critical component to the CRM solution and has a significant impact on sales performance for staff and the company.

Having said that, not all CRM mobility is equal. There are many mobility applications, but what offering will best enable real business success. It’s not too difficult to find a tool that will “get CRM on my phone”, but that’s a far cry from a solution that is designed for the optimal user experience, with appropriate security and organizational manageability. The more comprehensive solutions can also be configured in a variety of ways to deliver very different user experiences. Don’t assume that you are simply taking a CRM form, and pushing that to a phone. The user experience should be optimized for the use case scenarios, and to reflect that a mobile device (smartphone or tablet) is not a desktop computer. Mobile devices also offer capabilities unique to the device, that aren’t available from a computer monitor, and to incorporate that into the CRM experience. For instance, the ability to capture photos or voice recordings, or GPS data, and upload that into a CRM system.

If you’re trying to address: CRM user adoption, sales productivity, sales effectiveness, timelier follow-up of leads or improved lead conversion rates, gaining a competitive edge, or even reducing the cost associated with sales staff turnover, and then you’ve got a reason to further explore how mobility can support your objectives.

When we work with our clients, we first endeavor to understand their objectives, what their people in the field do, what they use CRM for, and potential use case scenarios for mobility. This allows us to provide insight into how mobility software can best be configured and used for the organization.  A great example of an organization that saw mobility is critical to their Microsoft Dynamics CRM and business success is HealthSouth Corporation. To learn more about how they leveraged mobility for a 1000 field staff, see this MSDynamcsWorld article.

How to access the Aberdeen Report:

You can either visit the Tendigits website or go directly to the following private access link.

Article and materials provided by guest blogger:

Derek Warburton

Vice President of Sales

TenDigits Software, Inc.

I want my MTV!

This week’s post is going to date me a bit, but do you remember the 80’s band Dire Straits with the MTV anthem “Money for Nothing”?  This song brought me inspiration for this week’s blog post which has nothing to do with music or MTV, but everything to do with the need for process automation within CRM systems! 

Many organizations scream for new and or improved CRM system and consider that purchase as a fix to all of the sales, service and marketing pains within an organization. Limited consideration is put into process definition or automation even though most companies approach the selling, service and marketing functions in different ways.  CRM software should be look at as the delivery tool, and when married to strong processes can provide organization the ability to execute, measure and adjust as their business change and grow. 

Today companies have many options for CRM software tools ranging from lite weight contact management solutions through enterprise class CRM suites.  I would argue that most systems selected as a “leader” by Gartner Inc., within the “Magic Quadrant for CRM” will do most of what an organization needs from a core feature and function.  Customers should turn their attention to the tool sets each CRM vendor provides around process automation and workflow. 

Steps to insure process automation supports CRM and delivers on promise of great ROI –

  • Clearly define process mapping by role type within organization that seek benefit from use of system.  Seek user involvement in this stage to insure your current processes are not broken.  This will also drive ownership and adoption of new system.
  • Look outside of current processes by department to define other manual tasks that should be automated to provide process improvements and end-user give backs.
  • Define work effort to incorporate the processes within the CRM package workflow tool sets provided.
  • Insure workflow tool is easy to build, maintain and edit as your business changes.  This should not require special programming but rather should be owned by power users within each department.
  • Look for ways to drive process outside of the CRM system and back.

Benefit of laying strong process framework will provide a measuring tool for revenue growth, customer satisfaction and ROI on marketing campaigns.  As you look at all of these take note of my favorite all time excerpts around this topic which come from a book I read many years ago called The Sales and Marketing Excellence Challenge.  In chapter 56, it is stated that “The Achilles heel for CRM is that if you have a flawed process, all CRM is going to do is help you do ineffective and inefficient things faster than you have ever done them before.  You need to take the time to optimize your processes before you implement a CRM system.”

This blog addresses some of the benefits of process automation management and how it can provide organizations with a competitive advantage across sales, service and marketing.   Make process automation a priority at every turn in your CRM deployment and your organization will demonstrate successful, repeatable processes with performance measurements that will deliver strong CRM deployment ROI.

– Tracy

1 MTV referenced in this blog are for education purposes and refers to 2010 MTV Networks, © and ™ MTV Networks. All Rights Reserved.

Dire Straits – Money for Nothing music video from YouTube Dire Straits & “Money for Nothing” referenced in this blog are for education purposes.  All Rights Reserved.

3 Gartner Inc., Magic Quadrant for CRM.  The Magic Quadrant is copyrighted 2010 by Gartner, Inc. and is reused with permission. The Magic Quadrant is a graphical representation of a marketplace at and for a specific time period. It depicts Gartner’s analysis of how certain vendor’s measure against criteria for that marketplace, as defined by Gartner. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in the Magic Quadrant, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors placed in the “Leaders” quadrant. The Magic Quadrant is intended solely as a research tool, and is not meant to be a specific guide to action. Gartner disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

4 The Sales and Marketing Excellence Challenge:  Changing How The Game Is Played by Jim Dickie & Barry Trailer Copyright 2003 Sales Mastery, Inc.