After spending last week on the road in Toronto meeting with multiple implementation partners and software publishers inadvertently I stumbled upon a common theme that seemed worthy of blogging about. One of the things that I have noticed about CRM that is different now than 5 years ago is that as these “business platforms” have evolved many people on both the consulting and customer side have gotten lost in the essence of what we are trying to solve for and where that should drive our priorities.
Business 101 says charge a dollar, justify the dollar, do a great job, collect the dollar, and then do it over and over again. I know, it’s very basic but with where I am going here that is the point. Many small businesses are passionate about what they do when they wake up every day and then they spend the rest of the day doing many of these other things so that they can get back to the reason they woke up this morning. As the business grows they can spend more time doing what they love and hire for the other necessities. And, eventually, if selling isn’t what they love, they will eventually need a CRM because not having one will keep them up at night.
For the most part people call this emerging business or the SMB marketplace and it is not only the major job creator in the US and Canada but also the most challenging area to get CRM right. And now some things are happening that may be changing the landscape to make things easier with the new announcements from Salesforce and Sage. More importantly, there are already hundreds of thousands of these companies that won’t be using these new tools for smaller business because they are already beyond its intended market. So what to do now?
1. Enable – Take a look at what it means to bring a dollar in and turn your organization into an upside down pyramid with the president/owner at the bottom and the sales teams at the top. Then take an approach to CRM that frees them up to do whatever it takes to find the next customer. It’s funny that many times CRM gets sideways or complex and in some respects becomes a damper on business development rather than fueling natural will and desire from your sales people.
2. Augment – One of the value propositions in this recent announcement from Sage and Salesforce is leveraging the concept that the closer you get to “one version of the truth” in a single operational system the better off all employees will be. As the IoT (Internet of Things) helps us become more connected we have fewer and fewer reasons not to leverage information that can help us succeed. If we don’t have connected systems we should look at the cost of both connecting them and not connecting them in order to get better productivity and output.
3. Simplify – Just because your business is growing doesn’t mean that you need to make things harder as you get bigger. If you don’t really know how to keep things simple then look for outside help. Unfortunately business performance for emerging companies often comes down to simple things like cash flow and focus rather than the viability of your products and services. As a case in point you might want to consider using something like CRM the way it is designed rather than trying to modify things to exactly how you execute today.
4. Analyze – With the amount of data available to even midsize organizations it’s amazing how little discipline people are willing to apply to looking at the data that’s in front of them rather than continually missing the mark on any number of strategic goals. If people have a system that is available anytime and anywhere then you can use travel time or gaps in your calendar to better understand where you are in relation to your goals and how to change quickly in order to get on track.
5. Change – For those of us in the world of CRM we have seen that a predisposition to change and the benefits it can bring can be exponential for results. As an example the Internet has changed how we all think and therefore the way that we all buy. If you have smart people and a good offering many times we need to be nimble in order to maximize our potential. One of the great benefits with today’s technology is the ability to track just about anything easily and then quantify with metrics.
Taking these actions seem simple enough but many firms we meet with often have a negative connotation for what CRM is and how complicated it has become. The reality is that CRM is very powerful and when done right it can help you get to the next level. The cripplers are technology that doesn’t make sense to the user, data that is unreliable, and enabling staff to use it when they want to but not as a condition of employment. These things can all be solved but it takes energy, effort, and enforcement in order to reach your business objectives.