CRM Value Proposition & Adoption

If your company has a sales team calling on prospects, they should be utilizing some form of customer relationship software, otherwise known as CRM. Today, CRM is a transactional database that keeps track of interactions with current and potential clients, using words like “lead” and “prospect.” There is a clear disconnect between the knowledge of CRM value and actually putting the tires on the road when it comes to execution of CRM, which always gives me pause. 

Why is implanting a tool that will bring increased sales and reduce one’s time managing prospects, like pulling teeth without Novocain?

The State of CRM Today

CRM is supposed to be about relationships with your future, current and past customers. But today, most people use CRM as a transactional database to tell them about the status of a customer, prospect, or opportunity removing the human emotion, industry nomenclature and the transparency of the relationship with the person whom the data relates. Most systems by design force the application into your business model and prevent adoption by both staff and “the customer”. Would you ever refer to a person as a “contact,” “lead,” “prospect,” or “opportunity”, to their face? If you did, it would devalue that person and your relationship with them. Dehumanizing customers is not a good business practice, so why do we do it in software?

This is not to say that CRM as a concept isn’t valuable — quite the contrary. However, the way it has traditionally been executed is not optimal, and it is time for a change. To bring about this much-needed change, companies can think about CRM in its true meaning: a tool to help nurture and develop real relationships with real people (customers) in an intuitive and secure way.

Full Relationship CRM 

There are two central ways in which companies can shift from a transactional CRM mindset to a relationship-based CRM mindset. The first is to take a proactive approach in communicating with and listening to your customers, directly from the system. Start conversations instead of waiting for customers to start conversations with you. Stimulate conversation with quality information that will bring your prospects to desire  engaging. Listening is a crucial aspect of this change and will improve your voice as a trusted advisor. Engaging in actual conversations has a positive impact on businesses and customers in meaningful ways. For example, you are better able to assess someone’s needs, and understand how you can serve them best through conversations. Strictly driving your message using email and expecting a positive result has no value if you are any business other than an online retailer.  Develop your desire to communicate and not “talk at” the other person’s needs more than your own. You’ll be able to open up a genuine conversation that will lay the foundation to build strong relationships on, both personally and professionally.

Make CRM fit your process vs your process being shoehorned into the CRM

The adoption of a CRM is highly dependent on ease of use and limiting the change to your business process. Naming convention, life cycle of your customer from prospect to completed transaction, communication with valued applications, and reporting, are all better unchanged, unless desired. Implementing a system that permits configuration to meet your processes will prove to be the greatest component for successful user adoption. 

Now that we have identified the need for human interaction, messaging and process, how does this become beneficial absent interruption?  Build a matrix of your needs, wants and wishes. Be sure they are all considering your growth (scalability). Make sure that regardless of this list, the CRM selected needs to satisfy your list with a typical implementation and not customization. This will keep your cost of ownership within budget so the investment provides a simple path to determining an ROI.

Make sure you require the CRM to be Fast, Secure & Intuitive.

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