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CRM Systems In Sales And Marketing - Well, They 'Should' Work!

CRM Systems In Sales And Marketing - Well, They 'Should' Work!

It's that word 'should' that's the problem. According to research from Gartner, as many as 60% of all CRM implementations fail. So given that CRM systems can help in many aspects of sales and marketing, why do they go wrong? 


If CRM systems fail in sales, marketing or both, you'll usually find a lack of user buy-in. Yes, things can go wrong technically, but technical issues can nearly always be overcome with the right software skills or changes to hardware. Products like Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Sage CRM, and GoldMine Premium Edition are established and proven CRM software. But if staff don't see clear advantages, find the system difficult to use, not right for them or that it doesn't seem to make their job any easier, it's a good bet the project will fail. 


Reasons for lack of buy-in often start before anyone in the sales department, marketing department or even IT, has thought about CRM. Say for example, an operations department wanted a new planning system. Then someone noticed it's got a CRM add-on - "Great, lets get that for sales and marketing". Well, without taking an in-depth look at the sales processes, the company could well end up shoe-horning in a CRM add-on that does not meet the requirements of their business. If it doesn't do what sales staff want it to do and doesn't actively demonstrate any benefits, it will naturally meet with resistance. 


But what if you've spent time choosing a CRM system that you know should be right for your company? It's suited to your business needs and sales and marketing processes, you know it can do what you want it to do and you've seen it work in other companies. And because it's software, it should be the IT departments responsibility: ask them set it up on your PC's and off we go. Job done. 


Or not. It isn't the IT departments responsibility. You'll certainly need their help, but sales and marketing teams need to own their bit of the CRM system, and co-own the rest of it. And this means allocating time and resources from the beginning. Keep sales and marketing staff informed and listen to their feedback. Nearly every CRM system will need a degree of configuration to suit particular businesses needs. Leaving CRM software implementation to the IT department doesn't mean the project will fail, but could result in a system that needs a serious amount of amendments after the go-live date. This can immediately de-value the system in the eyes of staff, and there goes another chunk of user buy-in. 


And whose idea was it to implement a CRM system in the first place? If the initiative has come from the top down, there may be fears of it just being a device for management to keep an eye on what staff are up to. Management (or any other staff member if the systems configured that way) can look at who's done what, when they did it, what's in their diary and what they haven't done. 


Then there's task allocation. Other people can set you tasks, schedule your calls, put you in meetings and see what you've got planned. The system may even allocate some tasks automatically. This can generate a perception of time management being taken out of the hands of the individual, and fear of work overload. 


These are natural concerns. They can all lead, directly or indirectly, to resistance to CRM system implementation. However, once the system's up and running, these fears usually vanish pretty quickly. Everyone's in the same boat. Errors in processes that could lead to individuals being overloaded will usually be identified during the business process analysis stage, and improving business processes is part of the benefits a new CRM system brings. Plus the various tools available in modern CRM software often result in a marked improvement in many staff members time management. 


So what about other changes, like a perceived increase in data entry? Some CRM systems may need sales or marketing staff to type in information they didn't enter before. And yes, this can seem a hassle to some staff. However, it's important to capture this data and keep it in one place. Access to accurate, comprehensive information and elimination of duplicate data entry are two of the most visible benefits to show early on in a CRM project. Data has to be entered somewhere. All the information that was previously kept on pieces of paper, on spreadsheets, on individual laptops and so on, is now in one place, and entered only once. Old habits can be difficult to break but quick and easy data retrieval from a single source is a big win for everyone in the sales department, and a seriously big win for staff in the marketing department. Also, CRM software is improving and steadily making data entry tasks much easier. 


From a business process point of view as well as a user buy-in one, it pays to get sales and marketing staff involved early on in the project. However, they also need time to give their input. Implementing a new system is not part of the day job, and the day job doesn't go away: a point which surprisingly often gets overlooked. It will need staff time allocated and covered, even if it's the odd hour here and there before the system's launched. You'll also need to give them time to adjust to new ways of working. 


Few companies implement a new CRM system without working closely with a software reseller. However, CRM implementations are far more likely to fail if you choose the wrong one. Ideally choose a software reseller that specialises in CRM, or at least one that can provide references from successful CRM projects. Preferably they'll offer a selection of different systems so you can choose the most suitable product for your business. If not they may try to impose a particular software package because that's all they work with. Make sure they don't see CRM as an add-on to a larger or different system, or as an aside to their core business. Also, CRM system implementation is far more likely to succeed if your provider offers a range of services such as business process analysis, project management, support and training - not just software supply and installation. 


A CRM system needs buy-in from everyone in a sales or marketing team. It can't be used by some staff and not others, or just used when convenient. It's often a cultural shift for a company, but the gains inherent in successful CRM implementation will (not should) be outstanding. 


Concentrix is a leading UK Independent CRM Specialist. Formed in 1999, Concentrix provides a full range of CRM Software and related services, working closely with key providers including Microsoft, Sage and FrontRange. 

Are You Getting Ahead With CRM News? 

Consumers thinking of buying a product or service get much out of the latest news, customer reviews, and feedback. These give them an idea of both the consequences or advantages if they get a specific product off the shelf. If you are in the market for CRM software, CRM news and customer feedback can help sway your decision to buy or not to buy. 


Buying Cars and Software 


When you bought your Subaru WRX, you painstakingly looked up the car's details, features, and availability of spare parts in your area. You read up press releases about the car and its manufacturer to get the whole set-up in perspective. This is reasonable; cars are expensive, and money must be wisely spent on a gem of a car, not a lemon. 


Likewise, you want the best technology for your business that speeds up work and assures a quick return of investment. Similar to purchasing a car, you want the assurance that the technology will work well according to your expectations. The latest CRM updates will help you understand what to look for in CRM software. 


CRM news may not be comprehensive guides for software shoppers, but it does help to clear up some misconceptions about the software - that it is not a one-size-fits-all product. What is good for a bank may not work with the same efficiency for a credit card company. Just like your car. What satisfied the Jacksons may not be family-friendly for you. 


Staying Informed 


If you're looking for comprehensive CRM information, you'll find websites that devote their space to CRM news. Everything about the technology, its history, features, and add-on applications can be yours in just one site. You can make immediate inquiries from the vendors because you are directed to their sites. 


The CRM sites give buying tips and valuable advice to help you make the right selection before investing your money on the software. Vendors also want to make sure you make the most out of your money; they'll require you to list your business needs for CRM. You can even have custom-made CRM software if there is none available that fits the bill. 


Aside from news, you'll find tutorials, product comparisons, CRM reviews, and software guides, which all help you understand the properties and features of the CRM software. Why should you put your money on something that stumps you? Where business is concerned, there's no room to make fatal mistakes. Money is money and businesses need all the resources to survive. 


So make sure that you're talking to the right people. CRM experts and consultants can clear the way for you. They analyze the current CRM setup in your business, see what's best to run your CRM effectively, and design a program that can capture all your needs. 


The Business Savvy Way 


What's in it for you? Going through tons of information available, you'll find articles demystifying the CRM wonder software, the shopping pitfalls to avoid, and CRM glossary. CRM news is just one of the tools available to start you on your way. 


If you're business smart, you'll pay serious attention to all CRM news, tidbits, tips, advice, and customer feedback. With these information, you can now sit down and talk with your staff about the changes in CRM work. Once the technology is available, your business is set to store and manage information and make business forecasts. 


CRM news is not always about customers. It's about improving efficiency at the workplace. That's one way to go the savvy entrepreneur's way. 

Implementing CRM - What's the Price? 
As Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems move from being "nice to haves" to essential tools in keeping businesses competitive, their implementation is growing at a rate to match. And of course, price and cost play a vital role. However, the price of a CRM system is more than just the cost of the software and IT. 
When budgeting for a project, assessing quotes from a solutions provider, or just trying to get a realistic idea of how much you'll need to spend, here's a guide to some of the key factors you need to consider. 
1) Software Costs: 
These usually consist of: 
the price of software licences 
the price of software maintenance. 
2) Professional Service Costs: 
Professional services refer to what you need to get done to get your CRM system up and running. They can include the costs of everything from scoping the project to software configuration, hardware and training. They include internal costs (such as the time of your own staff) as well as the price charged by your solutions provider. 
3) Support Costs 
Support costs generally refer to the price of assistance to keep the system going. They will usually include the costs of technical support, administrator support and user support, such as access to a help desk. Sometimes support costs include CRM software maintenance costs: it depends on wording and the vendor. 
Building a system from scratch? 
If you decide to build or implement a system yourself, you'll need to include several other factors in the price. Probably the most significant costs will be developing or acquiring the wide mix of business, administration, management and technical skills. Do not underestimate how important these skills are to a successful CRM project. And if you go down this route, you're well, quite literally, on your own. 
So, assuming you intend to employ the help of a solutions provider, here's a look at each of the three main areas of project costs in more detail: 
The Price of CRM Software 
Working out the price of software licences is usually straightforward. There will be a price for a single user licence, number of users or multiple user licences. Remember to allow for expansion with the number of software licences you buy: the number of users can quickly grow as the benefits of using it become apparent. It can also be useful to have extra licences on hand ready for new staff. 
When buying CRM software there's sometimes the choice between named or concurrent licences: most businesses prefer concurrent. Note some vendors only supply software licences in batch quantities, so you may have to buy 5, 10 or 15 etc. 
Maintenance costs are to cover when the software manufacturers update, alter or modify the product to correct faults, improve its performance or adapt it to work under new conditions. This is usually charged as a separate line item per software licence, as a set annual fee (a bit like insurance). Some resellers make maintenance charges compulsory - meaning you can't buy licences without maintenance. If it's not a separate item check it is included in the licence or support price. Don't buy CRM software without maintenance. 
The Price of Professional Services: 
Here's where working out the cost of a CRM project starts getting more involved. Unlike software licences, which have a clearly identifiable unit price, professional service costs are not directly user-based. What's more, professional services costs can be the largest expense - mainly because they encompass such a wide variety of different tasks. They also vary due to installation type, degree of customisation, business, solutions provider, level of integration with other office systems and so on. 
A good starting point to estimating the price of professional services is by producing a project-scoping document. Once you've identified your business requirements, a project scoping document will help show what needs to be done to realise these requirements. It's recommended that you use an experienced project manager or consultant to produce this, which may of course incur a charge in itself. However, you may be able to negotiate on this if you choose to work with the CRM solutions provider who produces the scoping document. 
Depending on the nature and complexity of your CRM project, the project-scoping document may include: 
Business process analysis 
CRM project specification 
Sales, marketing, and customer service systems design 
Internal resources required (you'll need high levels of input, and hence staff time, from several key areas within your company) 
Project Management 
CRM system design 
System build and configuration 
Data import 
Data cleansing 
System installation 
Various levels of training 
Internal procedure rewrite, updates 
Hardware installation and upgrades 
Additional software requirements 
Depth of system integration to other office systems 
There are identifiable issues that affect each of these elements, the complexity of a CRM project and hence the level of professional services you require. 
For example, the price of your project will be affected by how much 'out of the box' software functionality you intend to use and the level of system configuration required. The sophistication of your reporting requirement will influence system design, while the number of staff, their existing skills and the system complexity will affect the levels of training. Existing IT infrastructure will dictate whether you need to buy additional hardware and software, and degree of change to your current customer facing procedures will also influence overall costs. 
Data is also an important consideration when determining the price of professional services. Depending on what you do with it, it can take up significant internal resources. Usually your own staff are the best people to work on your data because they work with it day in and day out. You need to think hard about the value of existing data: how much of it will you use, what format is it in, how much reformatting is required and how much cleansing is needed. Data that's taken years to build up may be heartbreaking to part with, but similarly it can also be over-valued, particularly if it's going to take up skilled staff time to assess, cleanse and reformat. Do you really need to keep details of contacts from web-enquiries four years ago? Or even six months? It depends on your business. If you're going to clean your data, a new CRM project is the ideal time, but don't underestimate the work involved. 
Once you've identified the professional services you'll need, you can cost each factor - usually by working through the scoping document with your CRM solutions provider. 
Costs of System Support 
The price of CRM system and software support will depend on what's offered by your solutions provider and the level you choose to take. 
CRM solutions providers vary in terms of what they offer and how much they charge. However, most will be able to offer some level of support. If they don't, or you prefer not to pay for a support contract, then if a support issue arises it will probably be priced as a professional service. 
A typical support structure may include: 
User assistance and support - ideally via a dedicated support line. Make sure it uses trained support staff who can answer questions from all levels of user: from 'How do I...?' to technical details. 
Administrator assistance and support - again this should be via a dedicated support line to address issues connected with the running of the system. 
Supply of software corrections and revisions (may be included as maintenance). 
"Bug" reporting and control. 
Remote intervention and remote diagnostics - web dial-in, with controlled access. 
Self Service - some of the better CRM solutions providers offer 24/7 access to an online support centre. These will typically allows you to find out how your issue is progressing and provide access to a knowledge base. 
Other CRM support costs to consider are system administration, additional user training, on-site visits, system developments and additional licence installs. 
So How Much does a CRM System Cost? 
It depends on your business requirements, what you want to do and how you're going to do it. 
Make sure you involve key staff from marketing, sales, customer service, IT and finance. The factors which need to be taken into consideration when pricing a project can be quite subtle, particularly because of the different requirements between businesses. This is where the input from experienced CRM specialists can be invaluable. 
As well as costs, an independent CRM specialist can advise the best software to suit your business needs - what you want to achieve from it, your sector, your customer requirements, how it will fit into your existing systems and processes, how it will integrate with other business software, and of course your budget. 
Concentrix is a leading UK Independent CRM Specialist. Formed in 1999, Concentrix provides a full range of CRM Software and related services, working closely with key providers including Microsoft, Sage and FrontRange. 


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