Joe Stangarone, of mrc’s Cup of Joe Blog, gives some great advice about how to avoid being in a “blame” meeting for a failed IT project or failed software purchase:
Have you ever been in a “blame” meeting? It’s one of those meetings called when numbers are down or after a project or purchase failed miserably. As you might guess, there’s a lot of finger pointing and blame spreading. Not only are these meetings painful, they are completely unproductive. Since everyone is too busy deflecting blame, no one learns from their mistakes.
This article has some good advice and mirrors the points we have discussed on our blog many times, about how we help customers have successful CRM software implementations. It all depends on the people, training, process, and commitment that you make to your new CRM solution. And Commence has great experience in helping companies do this successfully.
As an executive of a company servicing the Customer Relationship Management software sector, CRM has become a bit of an oxymoron for me. I believe that building long term business relationships with your customers requires a commitment to providing quality products and great customer service. This traditionally involves reaching out to your customers and engaging with them so that they realize the maximum value from your product.
But many small to mid-size companies and CRM vendors that service the SMB sector just don’t see it this way. The vendors prefer that you just buy their product over the internet. If you need assistance send an e-mail and they will get back to you when it’s convenient for them. The buyers seem to feel comfortable with this and often hold the position that if I need assistance using your product, then it’s too hard so I’m not interested. It’s almost as if they view CRM software as nothing more than a commodity.
Your CRM Success Needs Your Commitment
Interestingly enough industry reports have indicated that there is as much as a 70% failure rate among CRM implementations. This is far worse than any other segment of the software industry. Much of this occurs in the SMB space where companies never get off the ground and as a result discontinue the service.
You could place the blame on the CRM software providers for developing products that are too hard to use; or perhaps the management of the company that purchased the system for failing to properly match their business requirement with the vendor’s offering or assign a champion who’s in charge of the CRM system. I blame the management and here’s why.
The CRM sector is crowded and highly competitive, with several hundred solutions ranging in price from free to more than $200 dollars per user per month. Most of the offerings targeted at the SME sector offer basic functionality and as such are very easy to use so this is not the problem. Furthermore, they are designed to offer limited to no customization so that the customer can’t get themselves in too much trouble. This is because with price points of free to $15 per user per month the vendor cannot afford to hire the resources to provide customer service. So when you see CRM products offered for free — no contract, or go month-to-month with no commitment, they mean it.
The real problem lies with the management of these small to mid-size businesses that have limited resources, are stretched thin and often do not understand that in order to improve how they market, sell and provide service to their customers they have to do more than download a cheap piece of software over the Internet. This commodity mentality is what I believe has led to the high failure rate in the industry. So how does this change?
Successfully Implementing Your CRM Solution
First, the management needs to agree that No Commitment – Means No Results. The first task is to make a commitment to put someone in charge of the CRM process. A champion who will document the business challenges such as ‘we need to improve lead generation‘. Then focus on finding a CRM solution that will address these challenges and a CRM vendor who can provide advice, counsel or value added services that will ensure results.
CRM is a two way street and you need to feel comfortable that the vendor has the staff and experience to make a commitment to your success. As I stated earlier you won’t get this by putting your credit card over the internet. This does not mean you have to mortgage the business to find a quality product and company that can deliver both at an affordable price. There are several good ones and you may be surprised to find out that the difference between a low cost CRM product and a CRM solution provider offering the value added services you need may be less than you think.
About the Author:
Larry Caretsky is President of Commence Corporation, a leading provider of online CRM software for small to mid-size businesses. Caretsky is considered an expert in the field and has written numerous white papers on the subject and the book, Practices That Pay – Leveraging Information to Achieve Selling Results. All are available from the company’s web site at www.commence.com
Image by Piero Fissore on Flickr under Creative Commons license.
What makes one CRM software provider better then another? In today’s competitive environment it’s typically not a specific feature or function. Unfortunately too many companies focus all their attention specifically on a CRM product’s features and price and often end up making the wrong decision.
Companies that have chosen Commence CRM as their solution for managing their customer relationships have indicated that in addition to the product having a top 10 rating, it’s the company’s track record that made the difference for them.
Jeff Spilfogel, an executive at Clear Stream, said. “I just felt comfortable with these guys. I am a small business so I won’t be anyone’s top account, but Commence was the only company that took the time to understand my business requirements and demonstrate how they could address them. Their competitors did not seem to be very interested in engaging with me and suggested via an e-mail that I sign up for a free trial over the Internet. This is why I went with Commence.”
Commence has been providing customer management software solutions to small and mid-size businesses for more than two decades. The company’s professional services and CRM support team have been engaged in more than 1,000 implementations, conducted thousands of training sessions and boast a client retention rate that is one of the best in the industry.
“Very few CRM software providers can match our experience level” says Larry Caretsky, president of Commence Corporation. “Our staff has expertise in more than 35 different industries and in 22 countries around the world. This knowledge is invaluable to our customers and helps ensure that their implementation goes smoothly and that they realize the maximum value for our CRM software. “
CRM software is essential, but how can you be sure? Often businesses are bombarded by products, solutions and campaigns highlighting different business needs. Therefore deciphering what is relevant can often be a difficult task for organizations. CRM software is one business solution that cannot be ignored. In the case of customer relationship management knowledge is power. The argument ‘what you don’t know won’t hurt you’ couldn’t be less relevant in the world of business. Knowledge transfer can occur within seconds and the speed at which you are able to deal with customer requests can be the difference between customer retention and a sales loss. The question then arises how can you best manage your customer needs and the day to day running of your business? The only way to do this effectively is through the implementation of an online CRM software system.
Online CRM software is the way forward. Previously sales teams have had to manage their interactions with clients through maintaining excel sheets, word documents or even recording data in soft copy documents. Ensuring that customer data is correct and up to date is close to impossible when these documents are being maintained manually. However an online CRM software package can automatically reduce the time spent documenting customer data. Through the implementation of CRM systems, companies can effectively manage their sales teams and develop strategies relating to their key clients.
CRM software packages enable the users to view their sales pipeline with greater clarity. The benefits of this are unparalleled; customer knowledge is the key to developing and maintaining growth. An intuitive, online CRM software solution streamlines the front office business processes that directly impact sales execution and customer service.
Image “sharing is power” by IAALD Editor on Flickr under Creative Commons license.