• Eric Siano

CRM: A Killer Selling Tool

Updated: Jun 2, 2021


By Eric J. Siano

Today, many businesses depend on Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems to generate and enhance revenue. We all want a system that becomes an effective selling tool, a marketing and nurture asset and facilitates service and support interactions.

Yet CRM software is sometimes viewed with skepticism. Since the original Gartner study in 2001 revealed a 50% failure rate studies consistently show 30-70% failure rates. At the same time, forces - both internal and external -- are increasing the pressure on CRM implementations. Consumers and cultural forces are driving change in sales, marketing and service. Legacy systems/processes and integrations are stifling adoption.

Clearly, it’s time to reverse these trends! What can you do to optimize a CRM and get the biggest bang for your buck?

1. Define your CRM philosophy and objectives

View CRM as a way cultivate and nurture interactions with current and potential customers. It is supported by strategy, people, process, technology and metrics.

Set clear objectives and communicate them early and often.

2. Understand the need

This is the easiest step to skip - although it is critical. That process should start with visualizing current and future utilization from a customer, business process, integration and technology points of view.

· Document channel neutral engagement with customers and prospects

· Map sales, marketing and service processes to optimize revenue

· Develop end-to-end use cases

· Map data sources

· Determine integration needs

· Perform stakeholder analysis

· Understand cultural facilitators and barriers

· Define foundational and adaptable technology needs

· Define best fit of on-premise, cloud and licensing models

· Develop business case and garner approvals

3. Plan

Create a detailed plan which will help to mitigate costly delays and rework. Ensure all scope items are identified and covered, including:

· Vendor evaluation

· Contracting and SLAs

· Develop change management, communication and user adoption plans

· Alignment with other technology initiatives

· Develop detailed plan

· Select methodology (Agile or hybrid)

· Continuous improvement

4. Stop Scope Creep/Be Disciplined

Scope creep kills CRM projects, so scope must be actively managed in a disciplined way. Disciplined execution does not imply a rigid no change process. It implies managing scope, time and budget to achieve a quality CRM implementation.

The goals are to accelerate time to value, deliver predictable results and reduce risk.

5. Ensure Flawless Launch/User Adoption

Flawless launch means on-time, on budget and surpassing expected quality. Any hit to CRM system credibility at this point will create user adoption issues. The CRM must be viewed as a sales, marketing and service facilitator-- not an administrative tool.

A new CRM system can be anxiety-inducing! To alleviate the anxiety, change management processes, tools and techniques can be used to lead people and organizations to the desired business outcome. The goal is to prepare and support people and the organization to adopt the change.

Some of the change management tools during a CRM implementation are:

· Stakeholder assessments

· Change readiness assessments

· Communication

· Business and technology impact analysis

· Training

· Post go live support - critical

The purpose of following a structured plan is to deliver a tool that helps sales and service/support personnel excel.

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