Your CRM versus My CRM – Which One Is Better


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I know what most of your are thinking.  You’re going through your personal list of issues with your implementation of:

  • Microsoft CRM
  • SalesLogix
  • Goldmine
  • ACT! (?)

It’s not fast enough. It doesn’t have a button over here. This list is wrong. My mail merge isn’t working. I can’t see this Account. My Outlook integration is creating duplicate activities. It’s too hard to create a report. I ran out of user-defined fields.

I know, it’s very very frustrating when you figure out that your magic solution isn’t getting the job done.  Every single day, my trusty Google Alert displays case after case of software vendors trying to sway users loyalty with silly whitepapers tweeted about and blogged by their channel partners.

Our CRM has more satisfied customers

    Your CRM? Your CRM solution? Solution for what? Everyone is looking for easy answers. If someone tells them a piece of software will drive the success of their business, they really, REALLY, what to believe them – because it’s easy. When polled, business people will agree that market growth comes from innovation, and then next day they are sold a new CRM solution by a vendor with a better list of features for their sales organization – and skip the work needed to drive innovation.
    This is your CRM and therein lies the problem many of us have been struggling with for many years. This is not my CRM. CRM is not an object! It’s not a piece of software. So, if you’re a business owner or C-Level executive who knows deep down that there is much more work involved in driving success, I urge you to keep reading. I’m going to layout some basic things that you need to do to create your CRM.

What Is The Better CRM?

Better is a matter of perspective, so I will start be suggesting that while I know you all work hard, get ready to work even harder. Why? Not because you’re actually going to work harder. It’s because whenever you go out of your comfort-zone, fatigue seems to set in more quickly. But, I can assure you that each day you will begin to see more and more progress and this fatigue will quickly turn into forehead slaps. That’s because you will have revelations every single day that seem so obvious, you won’t know how you missed them

But you will be very happy your customers are missing them! Ready?

Be prepared to change the culture of your organization

If you have a product or service, or resell a product, be prepared to change it. Yea, I’m serious! Stop making everything about your product. It makes you look needy. Start treating your customers like they’re needy – because the are! It’s about your customers’ needs, not yours.

Your customer’s needs are important for a few reasons.

  • Reduce Relationship Friction. Make certain your process and workflow makes sense to the customer, not some internal need. Each of you have experienced customer facing operations where you entered information into the call routing system, only to be asked for the information again. And then, when they find out what that information is, you have to be handed off to a different department – and they give you a phone number to call, where you enter your information again, and then verbally provide it again, and again, and again. That’s not fun. Your business has silos like this that disrupt your workflow. Fix it!
  • Opportunity! If you take the time to regularly understand the jobs your customers are trying to perform, you will find opportunities to enhance your product or service, create a new product altogether. And don’t forget related jobs. If you find gaps around their job, a little innovation on your part can have a huge impact for your customer and you!.
  • Create An Experience They Want – If you know your customers you won’t make silly assumptions about their experience. For instance, don’t force them to interact in a social community just because it’s the hottest Twitter topic today. Some people want a phone call, some people just want to place a darn order! Don’t create a place to have a tea party with your product if it’s a brass fitting – and not an American Girl doll!

    Develop a Customer-Centric Business Strategy That Fits Your Business

It’s going to take a new culture to look at your business differently and develop the right kind of strategy (outside-in). But once you do, you need to align your process to this new strategy. A process isn’t just about technology, it’s also about people, so culturally, the need to be onboard. But maybe just as important is the need to give them ownership in these changes. You can’t do that by simply announcing the change. People have invested a lot into a career that looks inside-out, so make sure they you get their help when turning outside-in.

      At this point, you may not really know the needs of your customers when you begin thinking about the strategy. But, you should be taking steps learn whether you have different types of customers. Whether you have one type of customer or multiple types, it’s important to design your business around their behaviors or some other key attribute. This really depends on your business, but you may find that it makes sense to create complete teams around customer segments, instead of creating them around products or brands. Whatever it takes for you to deliver value to your customer in a way that keeps them loyal – which will deliver value back to you in the form of retention and possibly a more active relationship (buy more frequently, etc).
      Stop thinking in terms of your product or service. Maybe it isn’t even your product or team that will meet the need of your customer. Blasphemy!!!

    Design Process From The Outside In

    Are you doing things your customer doesn’t need? Are you doing things poorly that your customer expects to be done better. Do turf battles create process based on internal avoidance? When times are tough, do you snip 15% around the edges – potentially losing value and leaving dead weight?

    A lot to think about. But this is how most businesses operate because they are in the product delivery business. Make product, deliver product. Source product, resell product. Acquire consulting force, all solutions look like their skill sets. It’s really ugly if you think about it as a customer. After all, you are a customer. Just think about it.

    Think about how to remove obstacles and silos from your process so information flows smoothly, quickly and with zero failure rates.  Failure can come from missed hand offs, long queues, dropped phone calls with no call back, etc, etc, etc. Then there are the inefficiencies, redundancies and plain old we’ve always don it that way‘s. 

    If you start mapping this stuff out, you will see just how silly it looks. And no, don’t go out and start using process-speak and flow chart symbology. Nearly everything looks stupid that way. Check out the approach someone like Dick Lee takes using pictograms (pictures/cartoons of people doing a job). It let’s everyone take part in this process design fun because they can understand it. If they can laugh at it, so much the better.

    Adopt a Methodology For Understanding Customer Needs

    Over time, markets tend to mature and flatten out. You can either go along for the ride, trading margin for revenue, but that will eventually tap out. Then you’re stuck or in a mad rush to innovate through mass marketing.

    How about let’s try continual innovation by getting know the jobs of your customers.  No, don’t ask them what you could do to improve your product. They don’t have a clue! What they do know about is there job. The expected outcomes from the boss. They also have other jobs that don’t relate to your product. So?

    • Ask them what they find frustrating or inconvenient about doing their job.
    • Ask them what makes their job time consuming
    • Ask them what makes their job get derailed
    • Ask them where the waste and inefficiency is in doing their job today.
      If you ask simple questions like these, you will uncover the opportunities for innovation. It could be a new product because of some new job that’s being performed. It could be improvements to your product. It could also be different product/service bundling. If you focus your attention on your product, you’ll simply miss the opportunity.

    I would strongly suggest that this process be a combination of surveying and interviewing. A reliance on social media will derail your job unless you create communities related to jobs and not your product. And that my friends, could be challenging.


    My Benefits Versus Your Features


    Oh look. You have more features than me….


    I Could Go On Forever, But….

    The key thing about my CRM is that it is an outside-in business culture, supported by a customer-centric business strategy, supported by outside-in process design -  and the processes supported by people (with ownership) and technology.

    My CRM works because I know what to expect from it, it encompasses my entire organization and it delivers value to my customers, not just a product. My competition isn’t doing that – which is good. Yours probably won’t be either. Businesses that view the world this way outperform their peers – in good times and bad.

    If designing a business around your customer, instead of a product, is weird….

    Then be weird!


    Recommended Reading


    Republished with author's permission from original post.


    1. Thanks for this very informative post, which prompted us CRM users to rethink whether our CRM are indeed doing its job. I can’t agree more on your statement “A process isn’t just about technology, it’s also about people.” In fact, in choosing CRM stunning features must not be the deciding factor, but rather the usable features, those that fit your business and customers needs.


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