Hype-Free CRM Success

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Dick Lee doesn't mince words. Especially when it comes to talking about the realities of CRM, an area he knows more than a little something about.

As practice leader for Caribou Lake Customer-1 consulting firm and an expert on CRM solutions, Lee is used to people paying attention to what he has to say. Perhaps that's why he's gotten fed up with what he calls the glut of problems in the market.

"There is a ton of misinformation, disinformation and confusion when it comes to explaining the successes and failures of CRM," Lee says. "Unfounded claims and counterclaims abound, so it has been almost impossible to sort through it all."

It is this frustration that prompted Lee to team with a pair of his colleagues to produce and publish The Blueprint for CRM Success, a new study that tries to cut through the smoke and mirrors to get to the truth of what it takes to implement an effective and profitable CRM solution. Authored by Lee, David Mangen of Mangen Research Associates, and Bob Thompson of CRMGuru.com, the study examines data from more 600 different respondents to get to the heart of implementing a coherent solution. Almost 450 of those respondents reported at least a partial return on investment, information Lee considered a "wake-up call" for the market.

According to the study, there are four key factors, or predictors of success, needed to realize a positive ROI on a CRM solution. Those factors are establishing customer centric strategies, line-level training and support, making necessary organizational changes, and setting measurable goals.

"These predictors of success may seem like common sense, but you'd be amazed at how many customers who want to implement CRM say things like 'Don't make a mess in here' when it comes to the idea of change," Lee says. "I literally had one customer who said to me 'We know we have to change, but we can't stop doing what got us here.' That kind of unrealistic expectation is still rampant in the market."

Because of these challenges, Lee is urging companies to phase in their implementations slowly. Don't try to beat the odds, Lee warns. Implementing CRM requires both a clear plan of what a company is hoping to accomplish, as well as the patience to see it to its completion. "What many people don't realize is that CRM is not a fast ROI initiative," Lee says. "It will probably take eighteen months to two years before a company will see a positive ROI."

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