Define your CRM Strategies

When we refer to CRM strategies at Tour de Force, we are not referring to the strategy of implementing CRM software. Instead, we are referring to the strategy that defines how your organization will manage your relationships with customers, prospects, vendors, and suppliers.  Once your organization defines this strategy, software can be used to manage and drive those processes.

What is CRM?

A Successful CRM Strategy Addresses 3 Fundamental Areas

Who your customers are.
Few companies can be all things to all potential and existing customers. To get value from customer relationships, you need to understand who you are building these customer relationships with. For example, are you providing a broad range of services to a distinct group of companies, or a single product for a wide range of companies?

How both parties obtain value from the relationship.
A relationship only lasts when both parties benefit from the relationship. What do your customers need from you? With a wide variety of customers, you will need different CRM strategies to accommodate each need. For example, if customers are looking for after-sales service, then you need to be able to provide distinguishable service while still making a profit.

Systems and software are only as effective as the strategy behind them.
Processes should be designed and systems should be implemented in order to remove blockages and improve relationships through communication and responsiveness. It’s important to realize that only people can build relationships.  Systems and software only support people and processes as customer relationships are built – they cannot solve issues with personnel or with poor processes.

Unsuccessful CRM projects rarely address these fundamental areas clearly. Instead, these CRM implementations focus on generic practices that scatter resources across multiple areas, offering little or no impact or return on investment.

Projects that do address these fundamental areas do so by developing a focused strategy. They identify what business intelligence is needed and which processes can be improved by technology, and then configure the systems to accomplish these objectives. They focus resources on targeted improvements that will lead to increased productivity and business process enhancements.

5 Common Mistakes that lead to CRM Failure:

1. Failing to provide immediate value to the sales force.
A CRM system must provide value to your sales team. If they view the system as a data entry tool and it provides no immediate value, they will not use the system and the implementation will fail.

2. Not identifying all of the business processes that impact customer relationships.
Before implementing a CRM software solution, you need to define your CRM strategy. What are the business processes that impact your customer relationships and how can you use software to manage those touch points?

3. Not setting clear goals to accomplish or defining metrics for success.
What are your goals for your CRM implementation? What do you define as success? What is your timeline for determining if the project is successful? Without a plan, your implementation is destined to fail.

4. Letting IT take the lead on the CRM project.
While IT plays an important role in a CRM implementation, they should not have the lead role. A successful CRM implementation is led by someone within your organization who is familiar with your customer relationship management strategy, such as a sales or marketing leader.

5. Failing to build a customer data integration strategy.
Implementing software applications that are unable to communicate with each other creates islands of data, which diminishes effective communication and reduces efficiencies with your organization. Your goal should be to centralize customer data, not to compartmentalize it.

A large percent of CRM projects fail each year, leading people to believe that success in a Customer Relationship Management software implementation is unattainable. At Tour de Force, we have a 98% customer retention rate, proving that success is attainable.

A successful CRM implementation can generate substantial returns. Payback within months and Return on Investment (ROI) of more than 100% is by no means impossible.  This cannot be accomplished, however, in an implementation that focuses on a set of generic best practices, or with a system that cannot be configured to match your specific business processes.

Key Functional Areas to Consider

When developing your CRM strategy, you need to consider the functions of your ERP/business system alongside the functions of the tools that your sales force uses. A successful strategy will address Sales Force Automation and will link the functions from both of these areas, closing the loop between the back office and the front office. It is equally important to identify all of the functional areas of your business that touch your Customers or Prospects, and then develop and document the strategy that you will use to manage those touch points and how you will use software to support that strategy.

Functions of an ERP System

When developing your CRM strategy you need to consider the functions of your existing ERP system. Most organizations already utilize an ERP or accounting business system to manage Accounting/AR/AP, Purchasing/Procurement/Production, Receiving, Inventory Management, Order Management, and Shipping.

Organizations have typically invested over the years in adopting these solutions and maximizing the efficiency of how they are using these systems to have the most positive impact on their customer relationships.

ERP Systems – Who works here?

  • Inside Sales
  • Customer Service/Support
  • Purchasing
  • Warehouse
  • Shipping/Logistics
  • Accounting/AR/AP

Functions of Sales Force Systems

When developing your CRM strategy, you also need to consider the functions of the existing systems that your sales force is already using. It’s important to make sure that your CRM system includes sales force automation in order to provide all of the features and functionality necessary for a sales person to manage and perform their job, while also minimizing the need for that sales person to jump back and forth between multiple applications throughout the course of their workday.

A Sales Force typically utilizes Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, Microsoft Word documents, and Microsoft Outlook for Email, along with other independent access databases, to manage all of the different areas of their job that ultimately involve contact with a Customer or Prospect. Whether it’s the Annual Sales Planning Process, Project Management, Opportunity Management, Call Reporting, Email Management, Support/Case Management, Expense Reporting, Sales Reporting, or Marketing Management, a sales person typically has to access many independent programs or data sources to perform their job. They are seldom able to communicate or build off of a centralized database of information.

Sales Force Systems – Who works here?

  • Outside Sales
  • Inside Sales
  • Territory or Area Managers
  • Marketing
  • Product Managers
  • Senior Sales Executives
  • Management
  • Engineering
  • Project Management
  • Tech Support

Implementation Success

4 Key Steps

  1. Identify all areas of your business that touch the Customer or the Prospect.
  2. Identify all of the business processes that manage the touch points with the Customer or Prospect.
  3. Select the appropriate CRM and Sales Force Automation (SFA) system that will allow the business processes impacting the Customer or Prospect to be managed in the most efficient and effective manner.
  4. Document those business processes and train the users on the utilization of the CRM system with a focus on how that system will deliver value to their daily work lives and how it will maximize their efficiency and effectiveness in managing their relationships with their Customers and Prospects.

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