Can you tell the future?
That’s one takeaway question from “What will CRM look like in 2015?” by salesforce.com alum Jamie Grenney. Ten years after the dawn of cloud-based CRM, he argues, the next big customer-facing step forward will come from filling businesses’ CRM databases with better data about prospects and clients.
Well, why stop there? Going forward, our computerized eyewear might whisper crucial information about a prospect into our ear moments before we meet them, giving us a true — albeit metaphorical — 360-degree view. Hey, we may even have CRM brain implants.
But what stories that focus on CRM technology too often overlook is that the best software in the world won’t magically make your business succeed. CRM software, for example, doesn’t automatically align your sales and marketing processes. It can’t automatically create and align territories. And it won’t eliminate the need for sales managers to coach and mentor their teams.
In short, when it comes to predicting our customer-facing future, here’s what CRM technology alone won’t do for you, come 2015 or any other year:
1. Set sales, marketing and service strategy.
What do you want to do with your customers? Businesses need the right technology for the job. But they also need a plan and they need to give their CRM users functionality that will get them excited (by making their jobs easier), thus fostering adoption. Here’s a selection of some of the hot CRM projects that Cloud Sherpas’ customers have been pursuing:
Marketing: Tap marketing automation and cloud-based analytics, improve social media monitoring
Sales: Pursue configure/price/quote (CPQ) capabilities, improve account planning, employ social CRM and analytics
Service: Tap Salesforce Knowledge, use integration to lower costs, use social CRM
Technology: Replace your CRM system, build out mobility, embrace big data capabilities
2. Improve business processes.
CRM technology by itself — or marketing automation tools or the Service Cloud alone – won’t improve your business processes. CRM is a tool: What do you want to do with it? To know that, you must first step back and articulate your business goals. This doesn’t have to be a laborious exercise, by any means. But without knowing your desired end result, you won’t know how to get there.
3. Achieve business goals.
Of course, every company wants to grow the top line, increase efficiency, grow profitability. Fine. But how do you want to do that? What are the steps you’ll take to get there? Perhaps are you trying to:
How you decide the answers to these questions — or whatever your particular business goals — will have a profound impact on how your CRM system should function as well as how it should be set up in the first place.
4. Solve MDM challenges.
Never underestimate the importance not just having a CRM system, but also getting data into that CRM system based on a plan to govern how and why that data goes in as well as how it gets reconciled with other systems. This is the domain of master data management (MDM), and it ensures your CRM system will match up with your SAP system, Oracle Human Capital Management (HCM) applications or any other current or future enterprise system. Tackling MDM is also crucial for facilitating single sign-on both inside the enterprise and with cloud apps.
5. Magically create & align territories.
One mistake many CRM-using businesses continue to make is doubling down on the customer-facing processes they’re already good at instead of improving the ones that need more work. For example, we often see sales teams focus too heavily on managing their pipelines — and identifying opportunities — instead of working to improve their territories and build long-term relationships. As noted above, CRM tools won’t magically build and refine your territories or wine and dine customers. Rather, this requires a concerted effort by sales managers, backed by appropriate training, as well as investing in or refining required tools to meet your needs.
6. Obsess over user adoption.
Just because you build a CRM system doesn’t mean employees will embrace it. For starters, you might build a system that supports outdated business goals or workflows. That’s why the world’s best CRM projects are the ones that prioritize users’ needs — not just managers’ desires — and work hand in hand to deliver a system that makes sales, service and marketing people more productive. After all, that’s one of the chief reasons to embrace CRM: automating customer-facing tasks, thus freeing employees to spend more time closing deals with customers. And for businesses that pursue that type strategy, I predict success.
Cloud Sherpas is one of the world’s leading cloud services brokerages and helps businesses adopt, manage and enhance their CRM investment by identifying desired business goals, finding the right tools and technology for the job and delivering rapid implementations that remain focused on achieving the desired business capabilities.