For Mature Audiences Only


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Guest post by Matthew Johnson

How does your CRM program rate? Photograph by ToastyKen.

I remember when the motion picture industry first came out with its movie rating system. At the time I was just a kid and it was the first time I encountered the word “mature.” So, one night while at the cinema I required my mother to explain to me the meaning. Rather than just tell me that some movies were for kids and some were for grownups, she attempted to explain to me the more elaborate definition (she was a career-long school teacher and every long car ride involved a lesson of one kind or another). What was strange about it all to me was that one would be required to reach a certain level of maturity in order to watch a movie. It did not help my full comprehension that my parents often let me accompany them to more adult-oriented movies, even as a pre-teen.

Thanks to my mother this lesson really stuck and, believe it or not, I think this whole maturity thing plays a critical role in managing CRM strategy and program planning. For example, a very common request that I typically field from a new client will be to help answer the question, “what should be next for our CRM program?” Naturally, as a consultant my answer is always the same – “it depends!” But I am not acting flippant with this response; it truly does depend on the maturity of the different elements within their program. The best things to focus on are commonly those that are less mature and most likely holding back the effectiveness of the whole program.

So, you are probably wondering, does this mean some CRM programs are PG13 while some are rated R, and then are there serious programs out there, which get the infamous X rating? Well, no, that is not exactly the right way to think about it. I prefer to think about maturity on a five point scale. At the low end of the continuum (I prefer not to use the term “immature”) are program elements that we might view as just getting initiated such as a first attempt at creating a customer segmentation model. On the other end of the continuum would be what we might view as world class capability – you do it as well as the best companies on the planet.

The next thing you are probably asking is what exactly is it that we are rating on this 5 point scale? Naturally, that gets another, “it depends.” Some of our clients want us to look at their whole CRM program to determine what is needed. Then, there are those companies that have a very focused need, they may want us to focus just on campaign management – where are they on that five-point scale and what do they need to do to advance just that one CRM element to the next stage of maturity? We can work at either end of that range, and everything in between.

When we focus on the whole CRM program we take a look at the full spectrum of CRM domains:

  • Technical CRM,
  • Functional CRM and
  • Enterprise CRM.

Technical CRM is what many people think of when they consider CRM. It is the software that defines the industry. But there is more to it than just configuring your CRM package. You also need to consider the data, which may be in many places. Then you also need to include the integration and middleware that brings those disparate data elements together into something useful. And then supporting all of this is the infrastructure in place to make it wall work – servers, networks, portals, handhelds, all kinds of stuff that make up the backbone of our CRM technology.

Functional CRM is all about the customer touchpoints. How do you make your company known to prospective customers? How do you convince them to become customers? How do you keep them happy customers once they are through the door? These are the business functions that touch the customer. CRM is all about how those customer interaction processes work and how to make them as effective as possible. For example, are your pipeline management processes well developed? Do they need to become more mature? And don’t forget about your partners who sell and service for you? The channels you have established to reach and support your customers are also one of these functional components. Don’t leave them out of the maturity assessment.

Enterprise CRM includes all the other parts that can be overlooked. What is your customer strategy and how well is it aligned and executed across the customer facing functions? What measurements do you have in place to know how well you are doing relative to customer-facing objectives? And then there is your company culture – is it customer friendly? Finally, achieving higher levels of CRM maturity requires the ability to define and implement initiatives. How well do you manage programs – process improvement initiatives, technology deployments and the management of these organizational changes? Yes, this is all a part of the CRM capability.

If you are really focused on CRM software as the center of our program, there is a good chance some of the other elements are not as well developed. Often customers will ask us about what tools they should add as the next step in their CRM program. If all of the focus has been on the technology, our answer will probably be to focus on something other than a tool as the next step. Here is the reason. The least mature element of your CRM program may be the least common denominator to your success. If you have good software but weak processes or poor alignment with your strategy, adding more software is not going to make you more successful. You have to address the less mature items first. If you want to run faster, but you have a strong leg and a weak leg, don’t exercise the strong leg more – the weak leg is what is holding you back.

Improving your CRM capability can be managed at multiple levels. You can assess your maturity with the big picture as the focus or you can get up close and personal with targeted capabilities that you know need attention. If you are not sure where to begin, start at the broad level. If you are confident that you know your weak links in the chain, examine them in more detail. Improving those links then will make the entire CRM chain stronger.

Good luck with your maturity rating analysis, and don’t forget the popcorn.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


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