Category Archives: Adoption

Hey, Mr. Chief Sales, Marketing or Service Officer, Don’t Let your IS Team Pick Your CRM Platform!

When was the last time you went shopping for a new bikini for your wife or a set of golf clubs for your husband?  Most likely never…and why?  Because at the end of the day, you are not going to be seen on a public beach in it or teeing off with your buddies at the next golf outing.  These are purchase decisions that should be made by the user since they will be the person using the item.

Buying a CRM system is not much different.  Most likely the user of the CRM tool is someone in one of the following categories:   sales representative, sales manager, CSO, marketing representative, marketing manager, CMO, service agent, service manager, VP of Customer Service or an individual with operations in their title or area of responsibility.

Your IT team would love to dictate the CRM tool of choice because they always know what’s best for you right?  WRONG…they are always going to pick a system that creates the least amount of IT pain for themselves.  This will happen even if it means compromising user experience, time to deployment, support for Bring Your Own Device “BYOD,” or interactions within the social media space.

If I am a CSO, CMO or VP of Service, I would follow these top five guiding principles as I make a CRM platform selection:

  • Involve your front line staff in the selection process.  Yes, I realize they are busy with their day jobs, but at the end of the day they will be the individuals expected to use the tool and can provide the most perspective on use case/productivity requirements. See blog post on CRM end-user givebacks
  • Ensure that the tool supports the growing trend of BYOD.  A truly effective CRM platform should be a tool available whenever and wherever your front line people interact with customers to drive use, value and the holy grail of CRM success: adoption!
  • Activity, message management & social collaboration are a way of life for sellers, so ensure that the tool leverages the required messaging, calendaring & social platforms that your teams already use pervasively to get work done.  What systems do your teams log into every morning to direct their day, communicate and collaboration with customers and prospects?  See blog post on top 14 must have CRM system features!
  • Integration to back office systems is a must.  This one gets blown out of proportion by customers and vendors.  Your IT team would lead you to believe you must stick within the Geranimals IT shop principles.  All CRM systems that reside in the Gartner MQ for 2011 should provide open architecture and — through industry standard web service calls — can be connected to your back office vendor of choice.  Yes, that means you are not restricted to one vendor for both ERP and CRM, so do not let that dictate your final CRM vendor selection choice.  Often, this can lead to weighing down a well-developed, mature business solution with another that just isn’t up to par as far as quality, performance, or capability.
  • Yes involve IT as an advisor during the selection process to insure the tool you move forward with can be supported by your cloud or on premise technology infrastructure.

Good selling and keep your eye on the prize of high user adoption to prevent CRM strategy failure!

– Tracy

Collaboration as a Keystone for your CRM Success Strategy

If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.

–Henry Ford, Industrialist and Innovator

Buzzwords abound in industry and their overuse can often cause us to become numb to the original intent and meaning of a phrase.  One such term that may suffer this fate is collaboration. This is unfortunate because—as Mr. Ford tells us—success flows naturally out of working together.  I’d like to explore some of the ways that collaboration can deliver this catalyst for your organization.

The genesis of a CRM strategy can come from a number of different sources.  Often, it’s the need for leaders to have visibility into the activities and efforts of their sales, service, or marketing teams.  While a critical and valid benefit of a CRM implementation, if this is the primary or even sole driver of the initiative, it’s many times the downfall of the project.

Fundamentally, approaching CRM from a perspective of “instrumentation of the business” fails to give the individual users back something of value for their effort and the usage of the platform becomes a task to complete rather than a tool to help advance the cause.  We can turn this around and make our people avid users of the platform and help them become more effective by approaching CRM as a collaborative tool that incorporates dividends for the users.

One way that CRM conveys this is through delivering situational awareness.  As mentioned, it’s necessary to provide reporting and analysis to business leaders, but pause to consider the value delivered by giving our peers lateral awareness of our activities as well.  In today’s business climate, the concept of matrix team models with overlay resources destroys the
traditional channels of communication around which businesses grew up.  Coworkers are often pushing in multiple directions at once with limited context and understanding of where their contributions deliver on the larger strategy or where they can contribute most effectively.  By surfacing more than just statistics about sales forecasts and instead showing a bigger picture of what we’re doing, it opens the door for richer interaction and teamwork.

To be specific, this isn’t simply yet another source of noise in our already randomized work environment.  Rather, it works to help us more effectively manage what’s being asked of us.  It
gives our people a means to request, offer, and deliver help in the appropriate context.  By context, I mean not just an understanding of what we’re talking about, but also the timing and medium of communication.  This lets us reach out via the most mutually agreeable means at a time that works.

Perhaps an example will help solidify this notion.

As a front line seller, one of the joys of my job is getting the opportunity to learn about a wide variety of industries and customers.  Unfortunately, this is also a challenge, since it’s difficult to be conversant across every business environment.  I have the benefit, however, of peers worldwide who have likely seen or done something similar to the problem I’m tackling.  In this case, let’s assume that I just left a meeting with my best customer, Fabrikam.  They’re interested in developing a new  and have asked for our help.  I’ve done a lot of things, but building a data center isn’t one of them (yet)!  A perfect opportunity to collaborate! But how? This is where it becomes important to consider the medium of collaboration. We have a multitude of ways I could solicit help. These include:

  • …sending a broadcast email and hope that the right person opens it and responds.  We know how this often works out.
  • … firing instant messages to random peers and asking for their thoughts, but they’re busy, too.
  • …pick up the phone and dial the boss and see if he knows anybody with relevant experience.

For many reasons, none of these gives me an optimal channel for this issue, though.  With the November 2011 Service Update, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 provides a new functionality that may be precisely the tool I need: Activity Feeds. Activity Feeds deliver the wide-reaching visibility of e-mail, but help us lift the message above the noise by publishing my request  in the context of the need.  In this case, I have the capability to direct the message to the right audience, whether it is specific to the customer, the sales opportunity, or perhaps even  my specific work group.  In this case, I’ll throw it up on the wall that’s filtered for others who work with Fabrikam.

Not only does this request show up in the appropriate  context, but it also gives our collaborators immediate access to deeper  information through the linked connections to both the Fabrikam account record  and the sales opportunity in question (highlighted in blue).

In this example, a veteran on the team spots my request and  reaches out with an offer of assistance in just a few minutes.  This has already made me more efficient.  I didn’t have to guess who to call or hope  that the right person finds the e-mail in time for me to get back to my  customer before my competitors.   While  this alone is great, my CRM platform continues to pay me dividends by also  short-circuiting the effort to follow through with Chet.

Historically, I would need to know Chet’s phone number or  office location.  Even in a more  contemporary environment with unified communications, I’d still need to look  him up in the directory.  Again, by  providing the tools within context, I’m just a click away from reaching out.

By simply hovering over his name within the activity, I can gauge  Chet’s availability and establish immediate contact via a number of channels,  such as email or, instant messaging.  In
this case, Chet asked me to give him a call and that option is available as  well.  In just minutes, I’m able to tap  critical information that could make the difference in this pursuit.  I think my customer might be surprised at how  quickly I get back to them!

Tactically, this makes life easier and provides a direct  conduit to solving problems and getting work done.  Considering this effort from a much higher  level, my CRM platform has done much more for me than just give me a place to  report on my activities or feed data to my leadership.  It has given me a long lever to make the most  of the skills and experience in the organization.  It has enabled success through enabling  collaboration in context, via the right medium.

In closing, I encourage you to think about the portfolio of  tools that you’re providing your teams and considering if you’re delivering  disparate tools or if you’re helping them realize productivity through a  comprehensive platform that delivers the right tools, in the right place, at  the right time.

Andy Engle

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Technology Specialist

aengle@microsoft.com

 

CRM Takes Another Step Forward with Mobile Dashboards!

“Dashboards on my iPad?” you ask.  Yep.

We are seeing considerable excitement within the CRM community about this latest innovation, and for good reasons:  1) Mobile Dashboards are useful, 2) Mobile Dashboards deliver great value to businesses, and 3) Mobile Dashboards will help Dynamics CRM partners meet customer needs and close business.

One of the great new capabilities delivered by Microsoft in Dynamics CRM 2011 was embedded dashboards. Now CWR Mobility has made those available on your mobile device – iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone 6.5. Mobile Dashboards provide data visualization; high-level graphical views that turn CRM data into actionable information for mobile users. Dashboards by themselves are a powerful tool when used from PCs, but they really take that power to a whole new level when they become available on tablets and smartphones.

Mobile Dashboards Deliver Great Value to Businesses

Mobile Dashboards now enable a company’s mobile employees – such as those in field sales, field service, or field marketing — to track the things that really matter to them in their business role, from wherever they are, whenever, in real-time. This leads to a state of continually being on top of the things that matter most…being on top of their part of the business. When a customer-facing organization is better informed, cycle times are reduced, responsiveness is increased, and actions are better targeted. If you’re wondering how important this new capability is, just try showing it to a field sales rep and watch their reaction.

CWR Mobility mobile dashboards are easy, flexible and real-time. As an inherent feature of CWR Mobile CRM 2011, they are easy to access and can support any dashboard based on a native dashboard in Dynamics CRM 2011. In this initial release, version 5.0.1.0, CWR Mobile CRM 2011 dashboards are available when a user has mobile internet connectivity, and they can pull any of these online dashboards in real-time, so the user will always have an up to date view of information. Mobile dashboards are read-only in this release; in time, we envision mobile dashboards supporting interactive drilldown capabilities.

Mobile Dashboards Will Help Partners Meet Customer Needs and Close Business

Mobile Dashboards are also great news for Dynamics CRM partners, because they deliver great business value for companies and can really catch a customer’s imagination. As a Dynamics CRM Partner, mobile dashboards are a great new capability to add to your standard customer demos, and you should consider leading with them. Show your customer an example of a mobile dashboard that is specific to their business. This is easy to do since CWR Mobile CRM Mobile Dashboards support any Dynamics CRM 2011 native dashboard. Create a customer dashboard and then demo it to your customer on an iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry or Windows Phone 6.5 device. Again, CWR Mobile CRM 2011 makes this easy.

You can learn more about CWR Mobile CRM mobile dashboards here.  And you can add a free trial of mobile dashboards in CWR Mobile CRM 2011 by clicking here — if you use Dynamics CRM Online, you can do it within minutes. Check out mobile dashboards today!

Stefan Burak

Vice President, Sales and Partners, Americas

CWR Mobility BV

cwrmobility.com

 

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

Social CRM – Hype, Hurt or Help?

In life we encounter many “hype, hurt or help” suggestions that can ultimately confuse the heck out of us!  A short list of things that come to mind are exercise, diets, vitamins, the internet, facebook, antibiotics, family, technology in general and yes Social CRM

Just a small set of examples were the word hype, hurt or help all can apply based on the way you incorporate each one into your personal or business lives.  During this week’s blog I would like to spend some time reviewing the hype, help and hurt aspects of Social CRM because I see many of my customers confused by all of the hype and solutions offered.

The hype of Social CRM.  I would say 100% of the top CRM vendors have some claim of integration or offering to this fast moving target?  Of course why not with the speed at which the social media revolution has taken off.  The question you have to ask your self is how applicable are the features offered when looking at your front line sellers, service teams and marketing staff?  I am not convinced the average sales, service or market staff have the time to dig in and understand and use all the social CRM features being tossed around.  The space of social CRM is in its infancy and lacks clear definition but I do believe in time all organization will need to embrace the hype and get on the bus in order to stay competitive. 

The hurt of Social CRM.  The number one hurt is the confusion which exists in the marketplace around the topic.  To many CRM vendors are tossing the social CRM message around but the solutions delivered only offer a subset of the social aspect.  My recommendation to customers is to define a clear playbook on what areas of social CRM you are trying to address with three specific areas of interest to focus on which are:

The help of Social CRM.  There are a number of really good examples of how a company can benefit from Social CRM.  One of my favorite today is a technology set delivered as an add-on to most CRM vendors called InsideView.  This falls into the first category identified in the hurt section around external social channels and does a great job of delivering relevant business & social insights about prospects & customers directly inside your CRM platformAs a sales profession I see this as a true CRM system giveback.

I believe that if your organization defines a clear playbook for Social CRM and keeps productivity a priority for your sales, marketing and service staff experiences, you will be able to leverage and embrace the social revolution.  I would love to get your personal feedback on the hype, hurt and help aspects of Social CRM.

– Tracy

Featured picture courtesy of Mark Smallwood

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.

Supersized reports with your CRM?

Should we really be super-sizing our meals or anything for that matter?  I think most of us have learned over the past decade that going big is not always best.  I remember 30+ years ago when this picture was taken that an individuals options were limited and ordering fast-food meals provided a right size experience.  So what does this have to do with CRM and reporting?  I see customers trying to implement CRM systems with supersized reporting requirements which can produce a disastrous user experience. 

I was at a customer function this past week and was asked about best practices directly tied to CRM dashboards and reporting.  The customer’s question was specific to report performance and user experience when individuals are empowered to create personalized dashboards or reports.  Could building personalized dashboards drawing from the entire CRM data model bring the CRM system to its knees?

The promise of most CRM platforms today is empowerment at the user level and surfacing actionable analytics to drive productivity.  Most CRM vendors featured in the Forrester Wave report are on the right track with this message, but customers must take the time to think this part of the CRM implementation out to manage expectation and work within CRM systems capabilities.

I will attempt to provide my recommendations when looking at this topic during requirements, planning, implementation build out, go live and ongoing maintenance.  I will try and break down the topic in buckets around reporting requirements, options & best practices to follow –

Reporting Options:

Reporting Requirements:

  • Executive views that provide all up snapshot of the complete dataset.
  • Manager views that provide regional or divisional sets of data.
  • Individual views that provide personal performance or territory analysis.
  • Broad need to view information that resides outside of CRM.

Reporting Best Practices:

  • Limited administration functions of report writing to prevent performance challenges.  Most CRM systems allow role based user access to lock this down to accommodate.
  • Pre-filter a report so that the dataset is manageable in size.
  • Limit a report to display information from a specified time period, rather than displaying all records in the CRM database.
  • Do not make a report with a large dataset or a complex query available on-demand to all users.
  • Schedule a snapshot in Report Manager during a time schedule when the system is lightly loaded.
  • Deploy the report through a CRM tool then use reporting platform to run the report at a scheduled time, with the results posted.
  • Move global dataset reporting outside of CRM for more complex data mining.

Suggestions:

  • Phase 1 CRM deployment should be supported with:
    • System supplied dashboards for all user types based on feedback. 
    • Incorporation of dynamic reports that auto refresh upon access will demonstrate strong productivity gains and drive system buy in. 
    • System canned views with option to personalize individual views.
  • Phase 2 adjustments should include:
    • Power user administrative rights to personalize dashboards and reports based on strong guidance. 
    • Feeds via iframe from legacy systems to augment system reporting can be introduced.
  • Phase 3 should open up:
    • À la carte to users you believe understand the creation, use cases and impacts of all reporting types.

Resources links – Microsoft BI, Crystal Reports., CRM Analytics, Forrester Wave, Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services, iframeSaaSOn-premises & Advanced find.

I always encourage system governance by a user and administrative CRM committee who meets on a monthly basis to discuss how to improve the use and adoption of any CRM systems.  Reporting should be one topic that is an ongoing debate in this process to insure user adoption.

–          Tracy

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.