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Do I Need a VPN ServiceCRM - A Buzz-Term That May Cost You Millions

 

Do I Need a VPN ServiceCRM - A Buzz-Term That May Cost You Millions

The importance of clarifying the meaning of CRM before start 

Recently I sat in a client meeting with top and selected middle management discussing CRM implementation approaches. During the course of the meeting, it became very obvious that most meeting participants have very different ideas about CRM. Some thought it's just a customer system with a comprehensive customer database, others related it to better customer segmentation, while again others believed implementing CRM would mean a complete shift of the corporate culture to strengthen the brand with a strong customer service element across all touch points. 

 

My immediate thought: No wonder that (according to Metagroup) more than 50% of CRM projects fail fail since it's already so difficult to create a common picture of what CRM stands for. Since clear, measurable objectives and well defined scope is one of the most important success factors of any kind of project, chances are already close to 100% that this company won't go anywhere with their CRM initiative if they don't spend significant time within management to clarify what the company means by CRM and what they want out of the system. 

 

Indeed, I can name numerous companies in Thailand, that struggled with their CRM initiative because of unclear and inconsistent direction. One of them is now scrutinizing their past investment in a CRM system and is considering starting over from scratch. Many of CRM projects, that we have seen either struggled because of being defined too broadly as "save all problems of the world projects" and became unmanageable while others were kept too limited in a silo manner which caused problems later when integrating with other initiatives. 

 

In general, I am not a fan of using too many buzz words in business. Business is all about people, and people become busy and generally have problems communicating effectively. The use of buzz words creates a big opportunity to oversimplify complex topics and concepts and cause lots of misunderstandings and confusion which often results in lots of efforts with very limited impact on business results. This is getting very obvious in the CRM context and may cost companies millions of Thai Baht. 

 

Therefore, if you are considering a CRM idea in your organization, spend sufficient time with your management team to clearly work out how the company is going to utilize the concept. Ideally, this activity should lead into a well formulated and communicated CRM strategy (sorry to introduce another buzz word) that is specific to your business. What I mean with a CRM Strategy (and here the specific part) is clarifying as tangible and measurable as possible the overall goal and positioning of CRM in the company, evaluating which areas of your business should be impacted by the concept and how and what you are going to include under the umbrella of a CRM project and what you are going to exclude. 

 

In some cases, we even recommend to drop the word CRM completely from the agenda because it's so easy to misunderstand. Instead we suggest using key ideas from the CRM concept as a guideline and name projects according to their specific business objective, e.g. "Call Center enhancement", "Service Capability improvement", "Campaign Management Improvement". 

 

The need to be specific in your wording even holds true if you are going to implement a CRM software system. The functionality of these systems usually overlap (confusion again) with other software applications. For instance, for some companies a good Business Intelligence Solution may have more impact on Customer Relationships than labeled so called CRM software. 

 

Clarifying the meaning of CRM and respective objectives, scope and approach as clear as possible to everybody in the organization before starting is a simple task that should not take more than a couple of weeks. However, the impact on project costs and risks and realization of CRM related benefits will be significant. Your bottom-line will be thankful. 

 

Illustration Title: Like in the story of the blind men and the elephant, people in organization often fail to see the big picture for CRM. A well-formulated CRM strategy helps. 


What is CRM and How Can it Help Recession Proof Your Business? 

Customer relationship management (CRM) can be described as the art or science of using information to find, acquire and retain customers. It covers a wide range of people, processes, and technology questions associated with marketing, sales, and service. CRM actively deepens the knowledge you have of your customers to meet individual customer needs. It provides a holistic approach that unifies all points of customer interaction. 
 
At the core of any customer-centric business strategy and culture, CRM is supported, not driven, by technology. 
 
Nonetheless, it does involve redesigning some of your functional activities around your customer. 
 
Customer relationship management is not just about buying CRM software technology. However, some technology is required to enable a CRM strategy. Its value and long term benefits are not possible without remembering that the driving force is often human relationships. CRM is repetitive in nature, to be improved on a regular basis - it is not a destination, but a journey. 
 
CRM will transform strategy, business functions and operational processes. Its goal is to retain customers and increase customer loyalty and profitability. In difficult economic environments relationships with customers is your most precious asset and is the foundation to weather economic downturns. 
 
The companies that can weather economic storms have some basic attributes that make them customer -centric. These recession proof attributes include being agile, adaptive, responsive, diversified, customer focused and orientated, having a high tolerance for change and having minimal staffing footprint and overheads. Most importantly however these businesses have stable customer foundations and strong cash flow that must be protected at all costs. 
 
The question is how can CRM solutions help with these attributes? 
 
Recession Proofing 
Selling your products and services becomes more difficult during a recession as your clients and prospects tighten their belts. CRM addresses your ability to address your own cost base by: 
 
Reducing the cost of acquiring new customers 
Maximising the profitability of existing customers 
Reducing the cost to service customers 
Minimising the cost of sales and marketing 
Optimising your internal productivity rates 
Customer Loyalty & Efficiency 
Keeping your customers when all your competitors are knocking at their door is fundamental to a stable and sustainable operation. CRM gives you an integrated knowledge about your customers, their issues and requirements from sales and marketing, customer service and your accounting department. Used wisely, CRM will help you: 
Optimise customer loyalty and lock-in 
Minimise customer churn 
Ensure the quality of your service is of the highest standard and meets client expectations 
Generate Revenue 
Having a clear and in depth understanding of each of your customers allows you to be proactive and flexible in the products and services you can offer them. CRM with its integrated information can help you by: 
Ensuring maximum revenue from each customer by recognising all the opportunities as opposed to individual ones. 
Minimising loss of future customer revenue through flexible packaged offerings that might include products, services and support. 
Reducing fluctuations in recurrent revenue streams by having longer term contracts in place 
Lowering the chance of customer switching rates through comprehensive and diversified offerings and long term contracts. 
Customer centric companies are investing in CRM software to ensure that they excel in their relationships with their customers. The path towards this is a key business strategy, not a technology one whether you decide on an in-house CRM system or take advantage of easy entry web based CRM software system. Ultimately, a CRM solution can be measured by customer retention and referrals, the growth of high value customer segments and the increase in the productivity of your own business. 
Antony Dutton is Managing Director and co-founder of Aaromba - 
CRM software & service management software specialists. 


What Can CRM Do For My Sales? 
 
Thanks to the large number of CRM software programs on the market today, most people have heard of CRM software. But many of those people have an incorrect or incomplete understanding of what CRM is capable of doing. This article will describe what CRM can do for your sales. After a brief overview of the concept of CRM, we'll identify some typical sales problems that CRM can solve. 
 
CRM became a buzzword in the 1990's. It referred to a technology-driven initiative to unify the efforts of a company's customer-facing departments. This new strategy would restructure these departments around the company's greatest asset - its customers! CRM would allow customer information from across the company to be available to any employee who happened to interact with the customer, enabling the sales team to sell more successfully, the marketing team to segment and market to customers more effectively, and the service team to provide more personal, more effective resolution to customer complaints or requests. 
 
Simply put, the technology available at the outset of CRM was insufficient to allow the concept to deliver on its promise. Today, however, the technology is available, and companies of every size and budget are realizing the benefits of CRM technology. Is your company one of them? Do you know what these benefits are? 
 
Why Do I Need CRM? 
 
Below are some typical problems that can be solved by implementing CRM.... 
 
"I want to improve the performance of my sales team this year." 
 
Well what do you mean, "improve?" How did you measure the performance of your sales team last year (meaning can you identify important metrics other than total revenue or number of sales)? Here are some specific questions you may ask yourself: 
 
o Can I identify the areas of performance in which my sales team did well, and those in which they underperformed? 
 
o Can I identify which of those areas has historically had the greatest impact on overall sales performance? 
 
o Which of those areas can be improved with the least investment of dollars, time, or training? 
 
o Which specific behaviors should I encourage to drive the performance increase I seek? 
 
For example, it may be that you had good lead generation and qualification numbers, but fell short in your more advanced sales stages. Or maybe your sales reps seemed to stall out in a certain part of your sale cycle, taking much longer than you would expect to achieve the objectives there and move into the next stage. 
 
There are many ways a sales team can underperform. But if you don't have a well-implemented CRM system, the odds are good that you can't accurately answer the questions that will help you improve. The truth is that measurable improvement can only come from measured results. Otherwise, your message to your sales team will continue to consist of frustrated admonitions to work harder or close better. 
 
"I think my sales team is doing a poor job of following up on the leads we receive, although I can't say for sure." 
 
There are two problems in this statement - the first is the suspicion that your valuable leads are falling through the cracks; the second is the fact that you can't measure the degree to which effective follow-up is occurring on the leads your team receives. 
 
CRM is designed to chain together a prospect's progress through the different stages of your sales efforts, from campaign to close. You can see exactly how many leads your sales team receives, and what actions are taken to pursue those leads. This information is available in high-level percentages and in detailed specifics about each lead. 
 
"I only know what's in the pipeline once a week - after spending hours calling my direct reports. By the time I'm done aggregating the data, things have probably changed anyway." 
 
It's hard to proactively manage your sales team in today's sales environment without knowing exactly how the pipeline for your team and for each rep looks. Identifying regions and reps that aren't performing well isn't possible without pipeline information. When this information is available real-time, you can use your valuable time for coaching and enabling your team rather than collecting their numbers. 
 
Opportunity management in CRM gives you and your sales reps and the ability to see what's in your pipeline in real-time. Information can be organized to show where each opportunity is in the sales stage, when it's expected to close, and what the rep expects it to be worth. Furthermore, if you know your sales process well enough to identify factors that indicate high chances of success or failure in an opportunity, certain opportunities can be flagged to help you take the necessary steps to close those deals or keep them from falling out of your pipeline. 
 
Over time and with enough accumulated pipeline data, you can begin to understand the probability related to pipeline values in different stages of your sales process. This understanding will help you forecast sales more accurately and identify the optimal pipeline numbers in each sales stage that will maximize pipeline through-put. 
 
"My sales reps don't execute the sales process properly. It's hard for me to identify the degree to which they're really following the process. It's also hard for me to mandate change in sales rep behavior." 
 
When CRM becomes the tool your sales team uses to manage the information relating to potential sales, it also becomes the medium through which you can mandate positive change. Your sales process can be integrated into the CRM system, allowing you to monitor the tasks and stages that each rep completes for each deal, or giving you high-level statistics to see the degree to which the sales process is being followed by your sales team as a whole. 
 
"My reps are not productive enough - they spend too much time doing things other than selling." 
 
CRM is designed to automate the tasks that take your reps away from selling. Whether it be 
 
· creating quotes or proposals 
 
· churning out follow-up communications 
 
· communicating internally with others involved in the sales process 
 
· saving or hunting for saved customer communications 
 
or the host of other tasks that cut into the time reps spend in front of potential customers, CRM can streamline or automate these tasks to free up more selling time for your sales team. 
 
"It takes too much time and effort for my reps to collaborate with other groups who could help in the sales process - we don't collaborate as much as we'd like to, and the collaboration we do engage in is inefficient." 
 
This is a CRM sweet spot. The whole concept of CRM is to allow information to flow across the enterprise in the instant it's created. Sales data will be made available to key players in your organization who can help move a sale to completion. This information flow can be automated, eliminating the need for manual communications. Tasks will be automatically created, both to remind your team members to complete assignments and to allow you to monitor and follow-up on tasks that aren't being completed. All of this drastically reduces the time your team needs to spend on the phone or sending emails to inform others of details relating to a sale. 
 
"My company's customer and prospect information is unreliable." 
 
Today is a great day to start reversing this trend. While you may or may not be able to improve the quality of the data you already have, you can certainly ensure that the customer data you create from now on will be complete and reliable. Good data keeping requires 2 things: a policy and a place. CRM gives you both. You define the policy by deciding what information is required for CRM records like accounts and contacts. Duplicate detection tools and other validation procedures defined by you can be created to ensure the purity and entirety of your customer data. 
 
And, of course, CRM is the place - the new center of all customer-facing information in your organization. 

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