People Are the Most Important Part of the CRM Equation

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CRM is all about people. Not just about the people it serves, but about the people who create it--those who drive innovation and customer centricity within their own organizations. For these CRM vendor executives, their customers' success defines their success. Of no other industry is this more true. This customer focus starts at the very top of the organization. Take Siebel Systems Chairman and CEO Tom Siebel, for example. Immediately prior to his recent keynote speech at a DCI CRM Conference--at a time when most speakers would be waiting in the wings--Siebel walked the room, shaking hands and chatting with attendees. Not surprisingly, at a recent Gartner CRM Summit, one of the most visible people there was Siebel's vice president of CRM marketing, Jeff Pulver, working his way through the attendees after the two Siebel presentations, asking people their opinions, looking for feedback and opportunities to improve future presentations to better meet the needs of the attendees. In the week before writing this column I met with executives from NetSuite, Onyx, PeopleSoft, and Salesnet. They all said the same thing: Their recent product upgrades were direct results of having worked closely with customers to uncover their needs and priorities. They didn't add features just because they thought something was cool, they added them to eliminate a customer pain point or to enhance customers' results. When you purchase CRM technology tools, you're not only getting an application, you're getting the people behind it. That's why in "Who's Who in CRM" (page 24) we spotlight the customer-related goals of many of these vendor executives. Vendor executives aren't the only ones looking to ensure their customers' CRM success. Within these customer organizations are power users whose knowledge and enthusiasm make them integral to creating CRM strategies and boosting user adoption. "CRM Superstars" (page 36) profiles three power users and how they have helped drive the successes of their companies' CRM initiatives. CRM project leaders are also always looking for ways to ensure the success of their initiatives, often through the success of their CRM users. In "Is Your Compensation Plan Undermining Your CRM Initiative?" (page 40) and "Big Bang Is a Scientific Theory, Not a Training Strategy" (page 44) we reveal incentive and training approaches for CRM users within sales, service, and marketing. The strategies help managers align compensation and training with their business goals. Recently, META Group Senior Program Director Steve Bonadio said, "Over the past few years CRM has been battered and bloodied, but refuses to die. It remains a key strategic initiative." I believe that the main reason behind the success of CRM, despite the criticism leveled at it, is the dedication of the people involved--the project leaders, the superusers, CRM vendor executives. It is the passion and perseverance of these people that make all the difference.
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