Read about CRM: Customer Relationship Management.
The Internet, and social media in particular, have made it possible for companies to establish new, much closer contacts with their customers and experts within their product areas. Whereas 20 years ago, dialogue with customers took place primarily through focus groups and market research, today we have the opportunity to maintain an ongoing conversation with our customers and the people who use our products daily and show an interest in them. There are hundreds of free platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter that enable us to immediately get our users involved. The challenge isn’t the technology, but rather the sociological, human and business-related aspects of how we create user involvement and employ it to the benefit of the company.
Good sales people are like detectives. We are always listening to customers and cataloguing important details that help them to make the next sale. The information we gather from customers and how we use it forms the basis of the relationship we have with them in the future, good or bad.
When I help clients identify their requirements for a CRM solution or define the business processes that will be included into a particular configuration, I like to turn things on their head a little. The classic method is to look at the business; its activities, data capture, employee roles and audit trails, but I prefer to view the organisation through the eyes of its clients.
In my experience there are three main reasons sales people are initially reluctant to engage with CRM systems:
# 1 Suspicion. They think that the information they put in will just be used to measure them and to store all that vital customer information they have in their heads in the system. They are right!
# 2 Managers insist on having jazzy reports which means that sales people spend valuable time inputting data into the system that is no real use to them. They are right on that one too!
# 3 Following on from the first 2 points CRM systems tend to be clumsy to use which is frustrating to the most disciplined of us, a nightmare for sales people.
Companies considering a (new) CRM solution are faced with a number of concerns. When I talk to the decision makers, they usually focus on price, speed and training. What they should really be focusing on is the success of their CRM implementation, which actually depends on processes, knowledge through data, scalability and flexibility.