“The” CRM And “The” Mentality Behind It


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Don’t ask me why, but nearly every day I feel the need to re-emphasize CRM strategy over CRM Software. It’s the same sick feeling I get when I hear people talking about Social CRM. I get fairly frustrated at the little things, like…

  • Calling CRM “the CRM” or “my CRM” or “our CRM” or “your CRM” – I can’t wait to hear people saying  “the Social CRM” or “my Social CRM” (just read this today!) or “our Social CRM” or “your Social CRM”. That’s gonna be funny, in a very sick sort of way.
  • When I’m asked to review all of the features of “the CRM” I sell. Do you have 10 days?
  • When the focus is solely on the sales department and how to generate quotes faster.
  • When everyone gets excited because my demo dashboard has every metric every conceived on it – even if no one in the room knows what they mean or if they are relevant. It’s PRETTY!
  • When I’m asked “what’s the best CRM?”
  • When a vendor suggests they have best practices built in, and their competitors don’t. Hey, neither do you! There’s no such thing!!!!!
  • When a one-trick pony vendor calls themselves Social CRM when they don’t even cover all of the social possibilities let alone C.R.M.
  • getting confused stares when I suggest to someone “walk a mile in the shoes of your typical customer.”

So once again I feel compelled to review a very simple framework for thinking just a little bit more strategically about this whole CRM (and Social CRM) thing. The reason I can’t go into much detail is because there are no best practices in the front office! Your business, and more importantly (and hopefully), your strategy, is different than anyone else’s and it deserves respect for being unique. And you owe it to yourself, but more importantly your customers, to design it, and execute it!

The Do Not’s of CRM (yes AND social CRM)

I know this sounds easy, but if you’re in the CRM mix and you’re not the Big Guy, it’s sometimes hard not to get caught up in the Big Guy’s excitement over new toys. Maybe it’s the fact that they have money to spend and you don’t. Maybe they like gadgets or something. I’m pretty sure that’s it, along with the get rich quick / gotta have it now mentality the most recent generations have grown up in. All of a sudden you start referring to it as “the CRM” because your boss is jumping up and down screaming “find me a CRM!!!!”

All you “she” sayers out there, just be happy I’m picking on guys here. She is the customer, if I’ve got that right. That’s another blog all by itself and will require a ton of research and probably a few therapy sessions.

So, here is what you don’t do. Don’t go around to everyone asking them what features they want from the CRM. All you’ll get is a bunch of me too features designed to satisfy their local issues. These things sound like the following:

  • really-bad-user-interfaceMy CRM needs a button that …, or
  • The CRM should have a screen that…, or
  • “It” needs a list that…, or
  • “It” should automatically create…, or
  • My perfect CRM dream is completely end-user customizable in case we experience a paradigm shift in our industry (this has been said to me, really).

These should be your warning signs that no one in your organization has a clue what CRM (or Social CRM) is. It’s become a shiny little box with a DVD in it that magically does what that person in the cubicle over there thinks it should do. That’s OK. Don’t listen to me and you will get a solution that looks like this (right over theya). Does this look like customer-centricity to you? Come on, there must be at least 3 of those buttons, or fields, that your customer simply doesn’t need, right? How about 93 of them? Admit it, this is all for you…and that’s what happens in most CRM initiatives, I’m really sorry to say. Note: This is not a customer screenshot. I found it on the wonderful Internet.

I’ve advised many clients who used to have CRM’s (there, that’s another ism I hate!) that look just like that over there. If you have “a CRM” that looks like this, or you have pictured this nightmare in your mind, please…PLEASE…read the following section very, very carefully. And then feel free to call me, because I can definitely help you, if you’re willing to look at the world a bit differently.

The Do’s of CRM (yes! AND social CRM, sheesh!)

As I state right on the front page of the website, there are a series of steps you should do if you’re serious about CRM.

  1. Develop a Customer Centric business strategy – The customer is not optional by the way, but your product is. Don’t be product-centric!  How will you collect customer information, how will it be accessed, how will you (collectively) learn from it, how will you act on it, how will you adapt as you learn – the product is irrelevant. What is your framework for understanding customer needs. How will you design experiences? How will you get everyone in your organization on the same page?
  2. Re-align workflows to your new cross-functional strategy. Then align specific work processes to support it.
  3. Develop Requirements for people processes and software processes. This will show you what you need to look for.
  4. Invite vendors or resellers to show you how their stuff will conform to the implementation of your CRM initiative. You don’t need to see anything that is irrelevant. Kick them out as soon as they say “have you seen this cool feature?” The way you work (if you’ve gone through steps 1-3) is a requirement that the CRM platform must meet.

Don’t allow software companies and consultants, who’ve spent almost no time understand the job(s) your’re doing walk in and tell you that their stuff was designed specifically for your industry and has best practices built into it. Or, that they will show you how to do what you need to do (their way) once it’s installed. Sorry, it’s their job to conform to your process, in a supporting role. They want to be the lead, everyone does. But, it’s not their job, as far as you are concerned. Be tough.

Do all of this, and finally I will hear the beautiful isms like “our CRM initiate” or “our CRM strategy” or “brand x does a great job of supporting our cross-functional work flows” or maybe even “here’s what we’ve learned about our customers this year.”

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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