Does Your CRM Stand the Test of Time?
Before anyone goes crazy and starts sending out a search party I wanted to let you all know that I am still here and still ever involved in the world of CRM. It is not that I have not had a desire to post or even the will to get the word out about new challenges and obstacles in the world of CRM adoption. The problem is limited resources and high customer demand. Unfortunately customers come first and it takes five times as long to grab a new customer as it does to keep one you already have happy.
Now that you have me focused and back to writing about the daily life of a CRM practitioner I thought I would start my newest post with a more modest topic.. "Return on Investment". This isn't some theoretical discussion but a real world discussion of value and how to achieve it and what it can do for your firm if done correctly. The idea for this article came from a conversation with a customer I have not had much interaction with for the past four years. I helped them find and develop a solution over five years ago and we transitioned them from an older technology when they found us and asked for our assistance.
One of the key elements that I could not have brought to the table was that this customer came armed with three things that are necessary for success:
DESIRE - My first sales mentor out of college used to tell me that he could give me every tool in the world but there was nothing he could do if I did not have the "will and desire" to succeed no matter the circumstance. I find that in many projects that have gone sideways or end up somewhat less than they could be that the project team (client and vendor) don't have a 'tough love' mentality to do the project correctly.
KNOWLEDGE - My grandfather (rest his sou) was a minister and often said that if you don't know where you are going that you will end up someplace else. This is the essence of the CRM in that many customers have a general understanding about CRM and what it can do but most do not have a deep understanding of the critical path that CRM can play in the operations of their business.
MONEY - As my father and a few others in life have told me... "if it was easy everyone would be doing it". The same goes for funding your projects and the resources that you dedicate to either the infrastructure or the consulting teams that help you make the most of the solution you choose to deploy.
Now let me get back to the story around this customer and how they have been able to succeed based on how they approached the project initially and how they want to move forward to their next phases of using CRM to improve their operations.
When this firm came looking for a vendor they did not approach us looking for a specific piece of technology. In fact, they wanted experience and they wanted someone that provided multiple solutions that could take a more consultative approach to their project. We met that requirement and began to discuss their needs. Wow! What a blessing. This customer had literal understanding of the pieces and parts of their operations, technology and the gaps in their capabilities already documented and prepared to discuss.
It's not that we could not have gone through the process of analysis to get to the same point but it was the mentality of the customer to want to know what their major pain points were and how they were connected to the different parts of the organization. So we proceeded next into crafting the solution...
As we started the discussions around how we could help address various technical or strategic objectives this customer was able to understand what the technology could support and whether or not certain enhancements or modifications would actually add value to their business. This is unbelievably important because we ultimately started down the certain path to do certain things based on the configuration of their other systems but they decided to either change their systems to do some things a better way or even cease some of the changes they thought they wanted when it became apparent to them the value was not there.
The final aspect of this customer's project was their approach to funding initially and ongoing. When we started the thought was that this venture might take several hundred hours and we ultimately billed a few thousand hours. Through the entire process the focus of the team was to get the project done correctly and to make sure that critical elements made sense for all consumers of the technology.
As I had the conversation on Friday (several years removed from implementation) it was nice to hear phrases like "The best decision we ever made." and "We absolutely love the system." Ironically, the call was not a discussion to opine or discuss how successful the program had become something else. The reason for the call was because the customer had come to an understanding that even though the solution was very successful they now wanted to move to the next phases of evolving their CRM. Kudos to them!
Stay tuned as I come back again and tell you what the big "aha moments" are in the next phase of this CRM success story. I am just so happy to have validation that when people and processes come together with technology that a good CRM system does stand the test of time.