Tag Archives: Adoption

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

 

Is your company already out of touch with social media?

It’s been said before but I am going to say it again…If your company has not hired or is in the process of hiring a social media manager you’re already out of touch!  That’s right, and if your sales, service and marketing teams CRM platform is not connected in  some way to a social strategy to listen, respond and collaborate with your supply chain and customers you are already losing market share.

Good news it’s not too late! This week’s blog is focused on lighting a small fire under your firm’s tail with focus on three simple things to take action on so you can get started –

  1. Take the time to develop a Social Media Manager Job Description that maps to your organizations goals then make the hire!  You may want to make that hire a woman based on a recent Techcrunch article on why women excel in social media! I will leave that one up for reader debate but tend to agree based on personal experiences.
  2. Establish your firms Social Media Policies  to prevent missteps by your staff.  Very important because rouge social media activities can create more harm than good.
  3. Outfit your frontline sellers with tools to succeed.  This goes well beyond just a CRM system and stale database.  SocialCRM will provide your users with key givebacks which will drive user adoption of your system.  Bottom line…if your CRM system does not give your users updated news feeds on companies you’re working with, key contact names to prospect to and response tools to take action against then your tool is out of date!  What’s the point of CRM if the tool does not enable your staff to have meaningful dialog and execution?  I will write more about this from a front line user’s perspective and what I think you should desire over the coming weeks.

Always remember that your organization should keep the mentality of user experience or as I say user givebacks as a priority to generate strong user adoption when deploying technology and policies.  If you do this then you will drive ultimate return on your investment.

Watch for my next blog on “Stop wasting your time with CRM systems” – why do companies always get low 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

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.