Uncovering Profitable CRM Practices

At the Frost & Sullivan Sales & Marketing Executive Summit, I moderated the SuperPowers of CRM panel and asked the panelists, Should companies expect their CRM vendors to help them use CRM to determine who their most profitable customers are? Brett Queener, vice president, field operations, Salesforce.com: The two things that a CRM vendor needs to do to help a customer is to...allow the customer the time and effort to focus on the people and processes. They should offer you a solution that...the vendor takes all the technological and operational risk off your hands from the deployment of that CRM system. The second issue is on the ease of use. The application has to be very easy to use, because you can have all the strategy in the world, get all the process in the world, but if your people won't use the application, the project will fail. For me the two things that a vendor needs to do first (before they sit down and talk to you about how they're going to do customer segmentation, best practice business processes, and end-user adoption strategies, which they should all do), [is] provide [time to focus and ease of use], so that you, as an organization, will have time to do more important stuff. Barbry McGann, vice president of product management, PeopleSoft Enterprise CRM, PeopleSoft:
I think the key is [that] CRM technology is an enabler, but that value that you're going to get out of it is from a strategy. More and more, customers are looking at vendors to help them set their project objectives and what they want to try to achieve and what kind of plan they want to have for return on their investment, because we have a lot of experiences with different customers in key industries and learned a lot about best practices. And you can see a trend in the market where customers are asking more and more for that. So, again, technology is just an enabler and, yes, the technology has to be easy to enable, but the strategic value is on what the software can do for you and what best practices the vendor can provide and expertise they can share with you. Jeff Pulver, vice president, worldwide marketing, Siebel Systems: I agree. The CRM vendor really needs to bring the experience they have to bear to each of their customers. Vendor should be your trusted partner, the company you look to that has seen other companies go through [implementing a CRM initiative]. Certainly at Siebel we've invested a lot in looking at the best practices from the implementations we've done, delivering some of the best practices business processes, [and] formulating the strategy and how do I achieve those goals and meet those objectives. That is what the vendor should be there for. We've got a lot of experience doing it and we should be bringing that to bear for our customers. Jon Wurfl, director, global CRM communications, SAP AG: The vendor has a responsibility from the very [beginning] to establish the value proposition for that customer, to understand, in your industry, against your peer group [that] these are the types of gains and measures you should be able to make. And then stick with it until those measures are actually accomplished or made. So as a consequence, it's about the hard, tangible impact on top line and bottom line. Robb Ecklund, vice president, CRM product marketing, Oracle: Absolutely hold your vendor accountable, but that's not a license to kill. It's mutual accountability. In the end it's all about clear, forthright communication all the way from the beginning of the evaluation on through the implementation. What are the expectations around the project? What are we representing as vendors you should be able to accomplish? On the part of our customers, there's lots of ways to explore the truthfulness of those statements: references, what-have-you. So vendors should be held accountable for the representations they make, but likewise, customers need also to be held accountable to scope and those sorts of things.
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