The Seven Truths About CRM for SMBs
SMBs have strikingly unique requirements for CRM. Obviously, they have fewer people, less time, and less money to spend on implementing software. But they do take their businesses and customers very seriously (maybe even more so than bigger, bureaucratic organizations), so SMBs want tools that can specifically address their requirements. Presented here are seven truths about SMB CRM:
1. You can't put 10 pounds of CRM in a 5-pound SMB bag.
SMBs simply don't have the money to acquire and customize a large, horizontal system. A handful of vendors now offer comprehensive CRM specifically designed for SMB budgets and domain knowledge.
2. Vertical solutions are more than a beachhead.
Vertical application solutions are primarily about data and processes. The CRM system must be able to reflect industry-unique information like customer and product profit, customer value, next best product recommendations, and customer retention assessment. It must also be easily adaptable to current and future company processes.
3. When the lines are blurred, the more, the merrier.
As more and more companies are crossing lines of businesses (e.g., banking into brokerage, insurance into banking), the ability of the CRM system to understand and manage multiple lines of business simultaneously is critical.
4. Wahoo for Yahoo!--don't assume customization is configuration.
Unlike configuration options or service-based customization, tailoring
offers an affordable solution for SMBs to obtain a highly customized solution that fits the organization's own specific data and process needs.
5. Admit it--you like your data integration cheap and easy.
Data needs to be tightly integrated into the CRM and refreshed regularly to enable an accurate picture of the customer. Ideally, the CRM system comes built to handle this out of the box.
6. Toggling is dirty application integration.
In most SMB environments companies already have core systems that run their businesses. As such, they don't want a separate system to be on their desktops.
7. Keep your ASP to yourself--you ain't touching my data.
While the ASP model seems to be a gift to SMBs, it does not provide enough data integration or security for many businesses. Therefore, a new model, in-house application hosting, brings the affordability and ease of use of the ASP model, with the security and integration capability of the traditional in-house systems.
If you ever read the story of "The Emperor's New Clothes," you remember the little boy in the crowd who noted that the Emperor was naked--the rest of the kingdom followed along accepting the vendor's deception that the Emperor was dressed. SMBs can't use the same software and business practices that have been used by the large and horizontal CRM companies. Disguising an all-purpose CRM application for SMBs is just unfit. In fact, the confusions created by the CRM industry would make anyone fit to be tied, but SMBs can be treated like kings when they can have CRM fit for them and only them.
About the Author
Alyssa Dver is vice president and CMO of Sedona Corporation, a provider of CRM for small and midsize companies. Dver is often published in industry media, including BusinessWeek,
where she is the special section contributor on CRM and RTE. Dver also authored the book, Software Product Management Essentials: a hands-on guide for small and midsize companies.
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