Taking CRM to a Higher Level of Interaction
Ask any extended selling team about its B2B CRM platform and salespeople will most likely tell you, "I have more than enough of what I don't need, and not nearly enough of what I do need."
For B2B CRM to succeed it must be extended to address the needs and wants of extended selling teams, their customers, and their prospects. We define this space of the customer's customers as Collaborative Relationship Management (C2RM). For C2RM to succeed companies must enable their business initiatives through the use of an integrated platform comprising five parts:
collaborative joint problem-solving METHODS
business acumen SKILLS development
useful and useable TOOLS
initial and ongoing CERTIFICATION
dynamic performance and development COACHING
Through the use of an integrated platform, customer's customers have the means to improve the quantity and quality of every customer-facing interaction (prospecting, face-to-face meetings, value propositions, executive presentations, business case development, etc.).
Collaborative joint problem-solving METHODS
Extended selling teams need and want to work collaboratively with their customers and prospects to solve business problems. While this appears obvious, companies continue to make investments in internal-use-only methods.
Who benefits most from your current forecasting process? Who benefits most from your current account planning process? Who benefits most from your current opportunity management process? What investments have been made to provide the collaborative methods required for your extended selling teams to align with business priorities, identify and monitor business requirements, and articulate value based on business criteria?
Critical rethinking must occur now if management is believed to be the major benefactor. Give your extended selling teams what they need to collaborate with their customers and prospects, and you will get in return better information to run the business.
Business acumen SKILLS development
To solve business problems requires a solid understanding of business. The majority of extended selling teams lack the business acumen required to "get, keep, and earn" the respect of the executives they are trying to sell and serve. Lacking the competence and confidence, they are pushed back to their "traditional" buying centers. Failure in these efforts dilutes your value to the extended selling teams that rely on you and further diminishes your company's position in the minds of those customers and prospects you are trying to reach.
How often do you say or hear that your extended selling teams must call higher or broader? What percentage of your skills budget goes to providing the business acumen required for them to be successful at calling on c-level execs?
Critical rethinking must occur now if extended selling teams are being asked to gain and retain executive relationships. Extended selling teams must quickly acquire the business acumen required to be taken seriously by c-level execs.
Useful and useable TOOLS
Useful and useable tools are critical to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness if collaboration among extended selling teams, their customers, and their prospects. Collaborative tools will only be used when all parties involved see the value in their initial and ongoing use. Building useful and useable tools requires the appropriate automation of collaborative joint problem-solving METHODS and business acumen SKILLS. It should come as no surprise that automation is only as good as the METHODS and SKILLS being automated.
How does the automation of your current METHODS and TOOLS enhance your customer-facing activities? How much of your current effort is focused on enabling real-time collaboration between extended selling teams, their customers, and their prospects?
Critical rethinking must occur now if TOOLS are being developed and/or deployed to assist internal-use-only METHODS and SKILLS. A significant portion of the resources committed to internal-use TOOLS should be quickly reallocated to TOOLS that facilitate joint collaboration and problem solving among extended selling teams, their customers, and their prospects.
Initial and ongoing CERTIFICATION
Every executive questions the value of the investments she makes in METHODS, SKILLS, and TOOLS. Showing the ROI of these investments is critical to ensure their early and ongoing involvement. In the haste to make the case, executives are often presented with magic-bullet justifications. Executives want cause-and-effect evidence that their investments are providing material improvements in results. Without the ability to demonstrate illustrative and working examples of how results are achieved, ROI findings will be dismissed as superficial claims. Executives will provide initial and ongoing support for those initiatives they can "see and believe" are making a difference.
Can you certify that your extended selling teams understand the METHODS, SKILLS, and TOOLS you are rolling out? Can you certify that your extended selling teams are using what you rolled out? Can you certify that your customers and prospects value what you are rolling out to your extended selling teams?
Critical rethinking must occur now if the CERTIFICATION of understanding, use, and value of METHODS, SKILLS, and TOOLS is uncertain. Initial and ongoing CERTIFICATION must be expected and demanded from providers of METHODS, SKILLS, and TOOLS.
Dynamic performance and development COACHING
The value of good frontline performance and development coaching is obvious. While everyone understands the importance, it rarely happens. The reason? Frontline leadership lacks the time and often the skills to do the job. The reasons for this can be many. Regardless, without good performance and development coaching in place, the odds of success for any customer-facing initiative is greatly reduced.
Do your current and future initiatives have dynamic performance and development coaching for the extended selling team? Do your current and future initiatives have dynamic performance and development coaching for frontline leaders?
Critical rethinking must occur now if dynamic performance and development COACHING is not a part of a customer-facing initiative. Extended selling teams and their leadership must have access to dynamic performance and development COACHING to quickly change and sustain the use of new customer-facing behaviors.
Just as a pair of sneakers is required to win a running race, CRM and C2RM are both required to win and serve customers. Underlying winning CRM and C2RM business initiatives is access to an integrated platform (methods, skills, tools, certification, and coaching) to enable their early-on and ongoing success. Integrating and enabling CRM and C2RM will provide you with a sustainable advantage over your competition to gain, earn, and retain profitable customer relationships. Never forget the customer's customers.
About the Author
Dave Allman is the founder and president of Knowledge-Advantage, which offers an integrated platform designed to enable the success of CRM and C2RM business initiatives. Contact him at http://www.knowledge-advantage.com.