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.

Dear Santa all I want this holiday season is Social CRM!

Now that we are past Black Friday and Cyber Monday it is time to make sure our holiday lists are in check.  This year I am thinking about asking Santa for a social CRM for dummies book!  

If you are like me and the rest of my customers the topic of social CRM is a bit overwhelming to say the least.  It seems like everyone has an opinion or tool but so few responses I get are consistent around this topic. 

I am finding that so many companies have existing CRM systems and are monitoring social activity but the two systems are horribly disconnected.  I am also seeing customers confuse the topic of social internal collaboration with external social CRM!

During this week’s blog I will try and take a stab at a social CRM for dummies narrative around this subject with hopes that I do not get any coal in my stocking!

Definitions of “Social CRM”:

Why you and your company should take action:

  • Competition is already dabbling with it and some are doing a great job.  3 Examples of Stellar Social Media Customer Service [Mashable Awards]
  • A number of your current and potential customers are already very active in social channels today.  Buyers are becoming savvier with their research and listening channels when executing on the buying process.
  • It can be used as a differentiators vs. competition within your sales, marketing and service organizations.
  • Fuel and provide direction for your research and development of existing and future offerings.
  • Can keep you in touch with the moves your competition is making.
  • Help your marketing and public relations team build and maintain relationships with industry influencers.
  • Drive your company’s service, sales & marketing alignment .
  • Aid your sales organization in moving from a sales 1.0 to sales 2.0 model which is about merging the best practice methodology with the best technology that accelerates the sales process.

What your focus should be as you get started:

  • Building a social CRM steering committee with representation form all key areas of your business.
  • Securing an enterprise wide top down commitment to social CRM.
  • Establish tangible goals and work to develop an ongoing ROI model.
  • Defining the processes you will put in place to insure you can leverage the information coming at you.
  • Development of a social playbook for all to leverage.
  • Ensure your organization is also set up in all relevant channels.
  • Selection of the right CRM platform and social media monitoring tools that will enable the automation of the processes. 

I am not suggesting that organizations need to throw out current CRM platforms as long as your vendor or implementation partner is providing a roadmap, processes and tools.  As the social CRM topic matures so will the social CRM add-on solutions to existing vendor platforms.  One great example of a social activity dashboard provided by an established CRM vendor can be found here. 

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 social CRM!

–          Tracy

Resources links – Altimeter Report: The 18 Use Cases of Social CRM, The New Rules of Relationship Management,  Social CRM World (SCRM),  Must Read Social Business ( SCRM + E20 ) Blogs,  Social Media ROI for DummiesThe 3 Threats to Social CRM & Social CRM Group on Linkedin

Happy Thanksgiving!

As we begin the process of departing for the Thanksgiving weekend, we should pause to count our blessings and the freedom of this great country in which we live.  For all of these things we should be deeply thankful.  May the good things of life be yours in abundance, not only at Thanksgiving but throughout the coming year.   My best wishes to you and your family for a happy holiday weekend!

– Tracy

Time to have TSA x-ray your CRM evaluation?

The hot topic of the week of course is the TSA body scanners and the revealing images they produce.  A need to prevent such unwanted exposure has spawned an inventor who created TSA-proof underwear to shield private parts from x-ray machines, prying eyes!  The good news with this debate is that you can opt out of the body scan, but watch out for the ensuing dreaded pat down if you choose to do so.

I am starting to think that customers should incorporate a bit of TSA like x-rays procedures during their evaluation of CRM solutions.  I say this because I continue to run into so many customers who are dissatisfied with their current CRM systems, but are stuck in subscription contracts that prevent them from gaining the value they believed they bought into. My goal with this weeks blog is to try and help you avoid some of the issues I continue to encounter in the trenches.

Below is a short list of items to drill deep on when evaluating your first or next CRM platform to prevent possible regrets or low return on investment:

  •  Hidden Costs - This can bite you in so many ways so look at areas of data migration; early contract termination; costs of reducing users; training fees; data-ownership issues; integration; customization; data storage; mobility & reporting.  In addition, make sure you are not sold on entry level pricing with incorrect functionality if multiple versions are available.
  • Performance – Look for performance white papers and scale testing options based on your data set and configuration.
  • Missing Functionality - A vendor demo can be a bit misleading.  My suggestion is to validate and re-validate your requirements against solution capabilities to insure what you require is core functionality provided.
  • Support -Who is providing this when issue arise? Find out if this comes from the vendor or implementation partner and at what cost per incident?
  • Training Materials - What is free and what will be required to insure driving proper adoption.  See Is CRM training that important?
  • Vendor Stability - What kind of dollars are being invested in R&D and will your vendor be around in 3 to 5 years to support you?  See Gartner Market Share: CRM Software, Worldwide, 2009.
  • Software License Agreements -What happens if your SaaS CRM system goes down?  Does your SaaS CRM strategy have a parachute?
  • Open Architecture - This is important to understand in case you need to develop future integrations or move to another vendor.
  • Deployment Options -What if you decide that a SaaS model is too expensive long term and need to migrate on premise? 
  • Customer Evidence -It is never a good idea to be the first at anything including the first person to go through the TSA body scanner…can you imagine how many people looked at that first image?  Make sure your CRM vendor can provide some form of evidence that what you are asking to do within their system has been done before.

Resources links – See Gartner Blog CRM and Innovation Spending in 2010Forrester WaveSaaS & On-premises.

CRM vendor transparency and incorporation of this x-ray procedure checklist will help create a recipe for making the right choice during your CRM solution selection process.

–          Tracy

Disclaimer – References in this blog post to TSA, body scanning, product and pad downs are not an endorsement or rebuttal of the need or opposition to these topics but I would love your opinion!

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.


  • 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

Does your cloud CRM strategy have a parachute?

I have always wondered why a parachute was not part of a traveler’s lofty airline seat price.  Including this might give some a little piece of mind if anything went wrong between the bad inflight snack options and your final destination. 

I feel software as a service “SaaS” CRM deployments should be looked at in a similar fashion.  So many companies rush in and subscribe to SaaS CRM, but fail to look at a contingency or parachute plan.  In fact, I am seeing a large number of CRM SaaS customers asking for alternatives based on hidden costs and unplanned issues with the original vendor selected. 

Below is my summary of items to consider preventing your organization from becoming a dissatisfied cloud CRM users:

Pros of a SaaS CRM model?

  • Economics (which you will see in the ‘cons’ section as well) – SaaS CRM applications are subscription based with per user per month license fees providing lower initial costs. In addition, having the SaaS provider manage the IT infrastructure means lower IT costs for hardware and the people needed to manage it all.
  •  Time to value – Software subscriptions can be turned on once a subscription contracts are completed allowing users to log in and go.  I would however suggest reviewing a previous blog post on defining process automation to support a successful CRM deployment to get the most from your investments.
  •  Reductions in IT dependencies – Individuals who reside on the business side will like freedom CRM SaaS brings because you can subscribe and go.  Since organizations have no hardware or software to buy, install or maintain you can bypass IT and deploy.
  • Accessibility – If users have a connection and a browser, CRM SaaS applications are available from any computer or any device.
  • Upgrades go away – Because the SaaS CRM vendor manages all updates and upgrades, there are no patches for customers to download or install. This model keeps the CRM vendor engaged in your success!
  • No Vendor Lock-in – Since companies are subscribing on a term contract you have flexibility to leave a vendor and move to other options at time of contract completion.
  • Great way to test or pilot – Since CRM has had such a high failure rate within organization the SaaS CRM model allows for quicker test of user adoption with subsets of users prior to broad-based rollouts.
  • Software compliance – no subscription no use hence no software piracy or overbuying of licenses that go unused if your user count is off.
  • Integrations – Early SaaS CRM vendors struggled with this topic but this has shifted from a con to a pro with so many options including leveraging vendor API’s, web services and third party integration tools.  A great reference article to view is The 10 Building Blocks of SaaS CRM Integration.

Cons of boarding your SaaS CRM plane without a parachute?

  • Economics – I realize this was listed as a pro but if looked at over a 3 to 5 year total cost of ownership model, on premise software can be a cheaper option leaving a customer with ownership.
  • Downtime – One of the largest concerns of a CRM SaaS model is if vendor system goes down!
  • Connectivity – Connectivity in most cases are reliable in major metropolitan markets but ISP’s do go down which can cause remote users possible challenges.  
  • Data security – This has become neutral or less of a con as CRM vendors are meeting industry standard data security practices.

Recommendations or parachute to put in place prior to selecting SaaS CRM vendor:

  1. Understand total cost of ownership?
  2. What is your data migration option if things go south?
  3. Do you have backup ISP if yours fails to delivery access?
  4. What if any hidden costs exist to support requirements of deployment?
  5. Can data be taken offline?
  6. What Software License Agreement “SLA” terms are offered by the CRM vendor?
  7. Can you get out of your SaaS contract if you decide to migrate on premise?
  8. What third party utilities or software can be added in the SaaS model to address gaps in core CRM platform?

I want to close by saying that I am a big fan of the CRM SaaS model and with good due diligence can deliver a strong CRM deployment model.

– 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.

"Hi-yo, Silver, away!"

It’s that time of year when adults find an excuse to play dress up, and a Halloween party this past weekend brought me inspiration for today’s blog post. The Lone Ranger and his trusty sidekick “Silver” made a great team, but one without the other was not much of a force to be reckoned with.  I see  similarities of this when thinking of CRM deployments and mobility! 

Ok so a bit of a stretch but I do believe the mobility topic ends up as a nice to have versus a must have feature in the CRM solution selection process.  We expect so much out of our field sellers, but invest little time on device platform selection and guaranteed connectivity to our CRM solutions.  Just think if you go the extra effort to understand a day in the life of your field sellers and mobile requirements how much more productivity you might gain from them?

*Gartner says mobility will be a trillion-dollar business by 2014!  Reference that report and consider the below checklist when addressing the CRM mobility topic:

  • Device support is a must since the growing trend is to let the mobile workforce chose the platform they would like to leverage.  With this flexibility come the need to have CRM compatibility with BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7, iPhone and Android operating systems.  I would add two additional midsize mobile devices that are gaining IT support and customer demand which are iPad and HP Slate 500
  • The CRM system selected must be browser independent now that Internet Explorer makes up just fewer than 60% of the market opening up 40% of the market running on Safari, Chrome and a slew of other browser substitutes.  This topic also ties back to preloaded browsers that come on devices such as the iPad.
  • Online and offline support will be driven by field seller location and connectivity provided by the selected mobile phone carriers.  I find that having both options will be needed to insure there are no productivity setbacks as your sellers move between meetings.
  • Top interactions offered to the mobile CRM user should be easy contact lookup, phone call placement, access to schedule, ability to schedule and complete activities, view & interaction with opportunities and viewing of some historical data elements.  More specialized mobile workforces will require task specific interaction so this topic and requirements will be defined on a company by company basis.

Resources – TenDigits, CWR Mobility & CRM Mobile Plus are just a few third-party CRM mobility add-on solutions to consider. 

Make mobility a priority at every turn in your CRM deployment and your organization will generate strong user adoption within your mobile workforce. 

– Tracy

* Gartner reference is pulled from “Analysts Explore the Changing Face of Mobility at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, October 17-21, in Orlando”  STAMFORD, Conn., October 21, 2010 http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=1455314[share_links

Is CRM training really that important?

Well I guess not if your goals are as big as “tiny” feature in this week’s blog post.  I have spent most of my life staying active by incorporating weight training and conditioning to stay in shape.  As part of this process I have learned that the results received directly correlate to goals set and ongoing investments put into my conditioning and nutrition plans. Maybe there are some similarities between trying to achieve a healthy lifestyle and delivering successful CRM deployments.

As we examine further, the #1 issue I continue to see surface in failed CRM deployments is the lack of investments and thought put into system training.  I believe a strong training plan is the secret sauce to insure any CRM system meets user adoption expectations and drive true return on investment.   

Suggested best practices that need to be incorporated in a training plan:

  • User return.  Users should know what they will be getting in return for the use of the CRM system which ties back to last week’s blog CRM system end-user givebacks?  
  • Hands-on training.  Provide hands-on training with real-life scenarios and data relevant to your users. 
  • Job aids.  Training should include a cheat sheets with CRM system terminology and step-by-step summaries of the required processes.
  • Mandatory system use.  System use must be mandatory for not only the users but all executives.  I find that companies that tie compensation to the CRM system tend to get the greatest user adoption.
  • Measurement & output.  Clear metrics & dates should be established that define what data elements must be entered, when users must have all data updated and when reports will be pulled.
  • Ongoing investments.  Training should be ongoing not just a one-time thing.  I suggest referring to a write-up by CSO Insights on “3 steps to improved Retention/Results. “Perfect practice makes perfect: receiving feedback/coaching on a consistent basis and continuously improving is how things get perfected.”  Barry Trailer, CSO Insights.
  • Training champions.  Electing departmental training champions can also be good resources for the user community.  This will provide a feedback loop for CRM system process and use case improvement.
  • System usage.  Most CRM systems or integrators of those systems provide a system wide audit by user so that you can understand how frequently users are in the systems.  One good example of this is Control Tower for CRM User Adoption  provided by Sonoma Partners.
  • Knowledge management.  Most CRM systems support KB articles and key topic search.  Incorporate your training materials within the CRM will further exploit the power of the system and provide one location of all best practice sharing.
  • Executive sponsorship.  Executive level support and the importance of everyone using the CRM system must be communicated.

Make training a priority at every turn in your CR M deployment and your organization will generate strong user adoption.  Watch for my next blog on the CRM mobility dilemma.

– Tracy

A CRM industry veteran providing ideas to companies during the CRM software selection process