To be good at Eight-Ball, you have to take a measured approach for each shot. To be great, you have to consistently do this and set yourself up for the next shot. Much like Eight-Ball, to be most successful with CRM strategies, you need a measured approach that also sets you up for your next move, or, in industry parlance, an approach that is scalable.
Progressive organizations do this and, as a result, have been able to evolve their simple contact management applications into more robust CRM solutions with feedback, real-time, and analytical capabilities. (For a good example of one company that has incorporated all of these capabilities at different points over the past 15 years, see “Driving Results,” by Editorial Assistant Juan Martinez.)
Getting to this point, though, doesn’t happen overnight, especially as the CRM industry has encountered some twists and turns while charting new territories since its inception. Fortunately, we have something today that we didn’t have when the CRM industry started—a rich history of experience and best practices to draw from. Many of the best practices that have been developed will guide us for years to come. That’s why it’s important to occasionally take a look back before looking ahead.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact time when the CRM industry was born. Some might argue that building great customer relationships is as old as business itself. Others, focusing on CRM technology, might suggest that the industry began to take hold in the 1990s. Because of this and because CRM magazine’s roots date back to 1997 when it was originally called Sales and Field Force Automation, we’re setting our sights for this issue back 15 years, to 1995.
We’ve learned about and reported on quite a few of the best practices that have been developed since then. Some of my favorite time-tested tips, listed below, have appeared in many issues of CRM magazine.
- Make a business case. Don’t simply buy a CRM system because your competitor has one. And don’t buy one because you think it will be a business panacea—it won’t. Be specific with your goals.
- Get support from the top. If management doesn’t enforce CRM usage, then you’ll be relying on luck to increase user adoption.
- Keep customers in mind. If your organization doesn’t think about your customers first when implementing a new process or technology, don’t expect your customers to return the favor when they’re looking to make a purchase.
- Build a team. Create a group of stakeholders with representatives from each department that will use the system. Take notes on what their colleagues need the system to do for them. Make sure the system and/or processes address their concerns.
- Take baby steps. Don’t try to do too much all at once. As Donna Fluss writes in her column, “The Siebel Effect—and Its Survivors,” “Complex projects should be broken down into manageable and measurable phases.”
Examples of these tips, and others, can be gleaned from our feature package, “15 Years of CRM: Sinking the Winning Shots.” If done well, these tips will not only prevent you from getting stuck behind the eight-ball, they’ll help you sink many more pocket shots.
If you want more industry best practices, attend CRM Evolution at the New York Marriott Marquis (August 2–4). We have an incredible program and some of the brightest minds in CRM lined up for you. Visit www.CRMevolution2010.com to register. I hope to see you there.
David Myron is the editorial director of CRM magazine. He can be reached at dmyron@destinationCRM.com.