CRM is not a magic bullet

Many organisations still see CRM systems as some kind of magic bullet.

Some vendors even oversell the features of their software when everyone knows that the benefits to customers, staff and owners will only come from successful business development strategies and management to match.

It is true that implementing a CRM system will enable business development processes to become more structured and focussed but: only if the management team uses the system to support sales, marketing and service strategies already in place.

In the early days of a CRM project there is often an emphasis on system skills. That is how best can we use the new system to support the various processes that are in place.

Hopefully the new system can be used to standardise, streamline and automate existing and new processes which will make life easier for all. What is sometimes missed though, are the longer term objectives which are ultimately to support methodologies and management in developing a resilient and resourceful business culture.

Often a key driver for purchase of a CRM is to provide a platform for winning new business by adding new customers and account management by adding new business to existing customers.

The skills needed to win new business and skills needed to optimise account management are complementary but not all sales people can do both well.

This is where the CRM might need different templates for opportunity management as different tactical considerations are at work. The sales manager needs to understand those differences and be able to provide resources if opportunities get stuck at any particular stage in the sales cycle. Providing that sales progress and process is documented inside the CRM then the sales manager has some key indicators to steer the various marketing campaigns typically based around acquistion, retention and growth goals.

Sales and marketing managers need to be able to make sense of all the data that is coming from the CRM and to also be able to adjust inputs to maximise results.

For example I have experienced sales calls where it is not clear to me what the value proposition really is. A standard question to ask sales and marketing people is; How is our offering different to our competitors? and then make sure that all sales messaging and proof statements will support that positioning. Note: the very best proof statements come from customer testamonials or other reference materials.

The CRM can then provide scripting guidelines for directed conversations about areas of mutual interest, but you will only get that chance if – you can communicate key points of difference and offer benefits to your target market.

Consequently, when you start customising your CRM settings you should be asking questions like

  1. Do these changes support our sales methodologies and business development strategy?
  2. Will they make it easier for our customers to buy from us?
  3. Will they make it easier for our staff to provde the best levels of quality, service and value to customers? 
  4. What is our sales metholodogy?
  5. Does the system support our marketing campaign messages?

Mike Bosworth of Customer Centric Selling (as paraphrased by me) notes that it is more successful to:

“Ask relevant questions versus rendering opinions – people like buying but not being sold too..Sales are based on conversations” not sermons…
“We should enable buyers rather than selling to them.”

We do this by focussing on needs, goals and problems and working with buyer to use your product as part of the answer.

The real work in a CRM project can often be all about the tuning and articulation of sales methologies and practice management. As Mike Bosworth also asks in this podcast

“What are you automating? Do you even have a sales process?”

This is something that we like to help with so please call us with any questions or project needs in this area. Here is a list of related features on CRM that you may also enjoy.