Translating requirements into features.
Posted May 1, 2006
More companies wanting to leverage their sales and marketing strategies, strengthen their workforce, and use the best tools available as they battle to win new customers and keep current ones are making CRM software choices. The question is: Which choice is right?
Eighty percent of a successful CRM implementation depends on the company evaluating and using the chosen system, while 20 percent depends upon the software itself. Before searching for CRM solutions, companies must determine their CRM requirements to select the best solution. Some basic questions include:
What interaction takes place between customers and salespeople?
What is the company's lead tracking strategy?
How does a company attract new customers and retain existing ones?
How does a company manage long sales cycles or projects?
Translating Requirements into Features
A CRM package is worthless unless it meets most of a company's needs. Some companies require a central database for sharing customer notes, history, and email. Others need to centralize their customer data, as well as ramp up their sales and marketing process, lead generation, sales pipeline management, and to automate their sales workflow. Selecting the right CRM product requires evaluation.
Start by looking within the organization for people who have been through the CRM selection process already. Next, talk to a seasoned CRM consulting firm with no ties to CRM solution providers and that has a track record of working with companies in situations like yours.
Taking a Skills Inventory
The CRM solution will fail if the organization does not have skilled staff to operate it. Vendor training addresses the specific skills of operating the software, but your salespeople and CSR staff still need the basic computer skills to understand the concepts being presented.
Involve all stakeholders in the CRM solution vetting process before signing a contract and accepting delivery. This ensures that all staff members are comfortable with moving to a formal CRM system, and gets them on board emotionally by creating a sense of ownership in the project.
Determining the CRM Budget
How much should you spend on a CRM solution? Spend as much as it takes to procure and implement the optimum solution for your company and not one penny more.
No CRM solution provider can tell you if its CRM package is worth the price to you. You could buy the most expensive system there is and receive no value in return. I recall selling a system to a small company (five users) for close to $3,000 with software, training and installation et cetera. The first thing the client did was to execute an email marketing campaign to existing customers who placed over $7,500 worth of orders in the first week. That's a pretty good ROI from a system that cost less than 3K.
Not too long after that, with proper training and understanding of the system's capabilities, the CEO of that company was generating reports and tracking information on new leads, follow-ups, and managing the sales pipeline of his company. Within a month he was able to stop leads from falling through the cracks and customer follow-up increased dramatically. In short, the system paid for itself over and over again within the first month.
However, I know of companies that keep investing thousands of dollars in CRM initiatives without any clear objectives and no methodology to test the ROI. In the end, all they have is a giant electronic Rolodex, which leaves them wondering why they ever got involved in CRM technology in the first place.
If you're planning on implementing a CRM solution for your organization, follow the tips and suggestions in this article for the best chance of realizing the ROI that you hope to achieve.
About the Author
Syed Ali is the lead CRM consultant for CyberQuest Solutions. He holds a postgraduate qualification in IT, and has a background in business analysis and systems integrations. He can be telephoned at (905) 815- 1995 ext 22, or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please visit www.cqsolutions.com
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