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Do you need consultants for cloud based CRM?

In the past with On-premise software installations, there was an absolute need for expert consultants who were able to install and configure the software and ensure other applications, such as Word and Outlook all worked together, liaising with IT over the upgrades and enhancements.

But in today’s world of Cloud Based CRM systems, which are always available and ready to go, the question is “do you still really need CRM Consultants”?

Well, my view of course is Yes!

Let’s add a caveat here; “Nearly always it is yes”. However, this depends on the system, your functional requirements and integrations, plus the number of users and past CRM experience.

But as a general rule, the more complex the projects, the newer to CRM your users are and the more functionality required, you should be using CRM consultants.

A consultant can help with a successful adoption in a number of ways:-

Business Process Understanding

The reasons for introducing a system may be clear and whilst you may have internal IT itching to do some customisations and some low level changes. What they are unlikely to be is experts in Sales and Marketing Alignment and Processes as well as how these are implemented into your system.

CRM consultants understand the business processes involved and that cloud based systems are not just adding a few custom fields here and there. A good consultant helps you to understand the overall process and the business requirements and objectives behind any deployment.

This is why a CRM Cloud Migration Workshop can be so useful. There is sometimes a tendency for internal IT to focus on field customisations and they are not usually able to appreciate the various interactions and processes between sales, marketing and customer service departments.

That said, for some deployments using internal IT may be adequate, but for larger projects you need to consider using external consultancy. My best analogy here is that just because you are technically minded, you may not be able to fully service your car and you may not have the technical skillsets, toolkit and importantly the time to learn this in the timescale required.

Where IT have been initially involved in an evaluation or software trial we frequently find a tendency to add fields to ‘customise’ the system, but that much time may be etter spent on learning and asking questions. For many clients the key is in the User experience and how to do their job better, quicker and more effectively…

User Adoption

When researching successful CRM deployments, User Adoption and Ownership of data is stressed. Customer Relationship Management is not just about a choice of software but also about adopting a culture and which most Sales and Marketing teams nowadays fully embrace.

The biggest reasons for failure are the lack of enthusiasm and understanding from Users. High quality training delivered by experienced expert trainers can reap dividends in engendering understanding and enthusiasm in your Users. Our Trainers can help in channelling ideas to improve the system and recognising good ideas for future development.

Integration

This element can range from simply integrating with applications such as Word and Outlook through to feeds coming in from your ERP system. This area includes working with other applications such as email marketing applications like Constant Contact email marketing all the way through to high end marketing automation integration with systems such as HubSpot. This knowledge is unlikely to be found within your internal IT department.

Helpdesk and Support

IT will have other important mission critical services to support and may have only limited time available to provide in-depth, ongoing application support since they may be limited in their experience and understanding of the system.

Best Practice

Since many of us involved in the industry now have almost 20 years’ experience and in-depth knowledge across multiple systems, we can help in advising and ensuring that your system is properly implemented with realistic objectives. In addition, we apply hard won best practice in your adoption which will reflect your business requirements.

Review and Evolution Champion

A final word on using consultants. We have a long term interest and stake in the successful adoption of your system and will invest time and effort in ensuring the system is successfully implemented as well as in supporting your deployment over many years. We are there to support your evolvement of the system and advise on any add-ons that can be utilised based on recommending what works with your system.

Next Steps

The first step towards looking at migrating to a new or your first CRM deployment is to use our Cloud CRM Scorecard. This will help you to judge yourselves the importance and need for using an external partner like CRMC.

Download 'CRM Cloud Migration ScoreCard'

by Gary Perkins

28th October 2015

Migrating to Cloud Based CRM

Introduction

2015 is a landmark year for Customer Relationship Management. Forrester’s research estimates that for the first time ever purchases of new Cloud based CRM software will account for over 50% of all new CRM systems. Additionally, Gartne, another software industry analyst predict with continuing investment in modernisation of software strategies and digital transformation by 2020, Cloud based solutions will occupy an 80% share of the CRM market.

So why are so many businesses migrating to a Cloud CRM system?

Is this the right time for your business to consider a new solution? T

he purpose of this blog is provide you with a comprehensive overview of opportunities and some of the challenges our trusted consultants have identified with other businesses in the same situation as you.

The questions you need to start to consider if you are on a traditional on-premise solution are:-

1. Should I migrate to the Cloud?

2. When should I move?

3. How difficult is this process and what are the steps I need to take?

4. What are the financial implications of migrating to a Cloud system?

These questions will form a series of blogs that will tackle these issues over the next month. So to avoid missing out on these thought provoking blogs, we invite you to join our online community by signing up to our blog.

Why should I Migrate to a Cloud CRM System?

This depends on your individual circumstances and to some extent your existing CRM solution together with your IT infrastructure and systems, such as MS Office. But what our specialist consultants at CRMC are finding are, there are several common driving forces behind making the move.

The first key driver is that surrounding traditional on-premise CRM solutions, as now many other Sales and Marketing applications (such as email, marketing automation, social media and analytics tools) are Cloud based. Some of the older on-premise software is not compatible, so as a result, as Sales and Marketing teams become more adept at using contemporary solutions, there becomes a frustration and a void between the system and its users.

A second key driver is the ability to access the system via Mobile Devices. Connectivity is key. Data anywhere, anytime on almost any device, something older on-premise systems don’t cope with as well, although many are striving to get their applications hosted on the Cloud and make them web accessible as fast as they can, they are clearly lagging behind.

Other drivers include the move to Cloud office applications such as MS Office 365 or Googleapps together with popular Email Marketing tools such as Constant Contact, Mailchimp being predominately 90+% cloud based, again Office 365 and Gmail are now the main SME preferred Email systems….the momentum now is for most office apps to move to the cloud and Microsoft’s current TV advertising is focused on the Microsoft Cloud theme.

Conclusion

As you can see, technology waits for no man, woman or child. Over recent years there have been vast technological improvements and advancements which have impacted the collective way we use our CRM systems. Traditional on-premise solutions have often struggled to develop key upgrades to keep pace with innovative, integrable Cloud based systems.

So if migrating to a Cloud CRM system is of interest, maybe the time is right to speak with one of our trusted independent consultants to talk you through choosing your next generation best cloud CRM system.

Your first step is to download and complete our CRM Cloud Migration Scorecard before calling the CRMC team.

by Gary Perkins

25th September 2015

Why SOPs are the key to CRM Success

Recently my posts have focused on the challenges faced when introducing CRM systems such as the need for gaining User adoption and the use of On-Boarding techniques.Why SOP's are the secret to best use of your CRM.

One item which was mentioned was the need to have clear and documented SOP’s or Standard Operating Procedures. SOP’s can be critical in ensuring that your users have together with their CRM User Manual their own set of key processes documented. These Standard Operating Processes are used internally for informing and explaining to users critical workflows or information requirements.

What are the benefits of using SOP's?

Why is this just not adding more paperwork? In my view, there are four core benefits:-

• Available documented reference point for Users to refer too.

• SOP's ensure a Consistent approach in data collection or working that process. And a consistent approach is key in ensuring quality of input

• SOP's help with embedding systemisation, a key item when growing a business.

• Faster on-boarding of new Staff

Having good ,clear and simply to understand SOP's as Simon Williams of Arrivista, an award winning Action Coach has stated, is a key fundamental. As Simon says….

“Having documented process of your systems is perhaps the key building block we look for when reviewing and understanding businesses looking to grow. Our experience has shown that those companies with documented procedures tend on the whole to be a lot more effective and efficient in what they do. More importantly having SOP's means that the management team can focus on growing the business confident that new staff will adhere to the SOP's and follow the process. Not having any SOP's is a source of "growing pain" and this can inhibit their growth, so the systemisation and consistency offered by creating SOP's is well worth the investment in time.

A typical CRM SOP: "Capturing Sales Leads

Perhaps the easiest SOP to explain and the most common for new CRM users is the information required when entering a new Sales Lead.

This can be verbally given, but having a documented Standard Operating Procedure will help to embed this process and more importantly ensure consistency of approach.

For ourselves, one of our key user fields is the “Source” field containing a selection of how the Lead found us, for example, "Referral", "Email Campaign", "Website" etc. How your prospect found you or you found them is particularly important for marketing feedback and enabling Marketing (and Sales) to track and measure which campaigns are being successful in generating sales leads and ultimately Sales Opportunities and conversions.

So, completing the required information and process can be critical and after all, Sales Leads generation and quality is probably the biggest source of interaction between Sales and Marketing departments!

What information does a SOP for CRM contain?

These documents don’t have to be “War and Peace” with pages of information, better to just follow the sales processes through from initial lead through to quotation, order and customer service or helpdesk actions with simple clear and quick to update documents for each section.

We try to keep ours as simple as possible and mostly this involves screenshots as much as possible of that part of CRM, such as the Lead form with a description of why the key fields are needed to be completed as discussion earlier.

Typically, each department should produce their own e.g. Sales, Marketing and Customer Service, which will all then evolve over time. A CRM SOP contents should include:-

• SOP Number

• SOP Title

• Overview Description and why it is important

• What the Process does and the importance of any impact further on down the chain

• Screenshot(s) and what are the key steps in this process

• What is the number of the next process this connects to.

• Issue Date, Author and document location

As mentioned earlier, the key is not to have to have a long documents since these need to be referred to quickly and easily. Our view is for either one of two page processes which are then easier to write, digest and implement quickly.

Your own CRM User manual should be used as reference here for the general use and flow of your CRM system whilst your SOP’s complement this with a focus on the specific steps or processes needing to take place.

For more examples of the sort of SOP’s, MAS have used plus some sample templates, please refer to our more detailed blog on this subject.

3rd November 2014

Moving from a Legacy system to New CRM…The Challenges: Part 2

In my previous article, I gave an example of what had prompted a client to move from two different systems; a pure Sales and Marketing system and a Service and Equipment Tracking system driven by then need for a single centralised CRM.

Now let’s look at the Migration Challenges!

In my view these are three steps you should consider prior to embarking on this type of migration:-

1 . Selection and Review of Core Requirements

Ensure you have gone through a selection process with your team, ideally with a CRM Advisor. Your team need to be confident that the chosen CRM solution is a good fit to your business and culture. Make sure the Project Team were actively involved in any CRM Discovery meetings.

2. CRM Scoping Workshops

For more complex CRM projects, we recommend a Scoping Workshop with your CRM Advisor to identify the fine detail down to a ‘screen by screen’ and ‘field by field’ basis. This is good practice even if it is a straight migration; you will learn what is needed and what is not Now!

This can be a great time to find out about any other databases that have evolved or been created to solve a problem. Another recent example was where high value “Samples” were sent to customers. The tracking of these inside of CRM was a simple addition and greatly extended its usefulness, now these are linked to the customer contact (and Rep) in CRM so are now easily logged and tracked. This meant quick and easy reporting and visibility and this simple addition saved everyone hours!

Once your CRM Scope is documented and mapped out, what next? …..it’s time for the two toughest words in CRM and the area where we and you, the client can potentially burn our fingers!

3. Data Migration

Data Migration may just involve some simple migration, but a lot first needs to be considered here!

In fact, according to recent 2013 Forester Research article, this was one of the main issues in any CRM implementation 

So in my view, as a quick guide, you need to answer these questions:-

• What data must to come across? (Do you need full sets of data or subsets of data, are there easy to agree cut-off data types – (e.g. Leads, Customers)

• How far back shall we go? (Cut-off may be this year or last year)

• Who is going to cleanse and data check prior to import? -clean data helps user adoption

• Will the ‘off-the-shelf’ CRM functionality be able to import this data or are third party tools needed such as Inaport ?

• What else? Do we need to link other documents or files types?

• Consider what is unique about your data? If you are merging multiple databases, as in the example above Which one will be the ‘parent’ or is more accurate?

• Final Big Question? Do your emails, histories, activities all need to come across per user? Think carefully here! Big implications often in the time and effort involved!

This need not be a tough decision, for many, your existing system or a back-up of it can stay in place and be used as a stand-by in read-only mode. For Cloud CRM migrations, you may look to archive or reduce to a single user for your transition period.

Before Go Live, consider a TEST Import with your Project Team

Conclusion

For your users, data quality, accuracy and its presentation can tremendously help or hinder their levels of adoption and enthusiasm. It can either inspire or reduce their confidence in their new CRM.

“My rule of thumb” is the more you can do and the less they have to do themselves, the better.

Think carefully about this and work out your own cost-benefit analysis. This is especially important if your users are luke-warm or reluctant to do much work themselves! Don’t give them the excuse of poor data being an excuse used not to use CRM!

Now, you have answered your Data Migration questions, next you will need to consider your CRM “On-Boarding” process. The next big Challenge is to ensure your Users have the right Training and Skills Competency.

Some proven ideas on How should you plan to do this is covered in Part 3.

By Gary Perkins

8th March 2014

Moving from a legacy system to new CRM…a typical case study - Part 1

Recently, I encountered a case of a legacy CRM system client who needed to move to a new CRM system. This was a typical case of a company that had embraced the concept of a managed CRM system 10 years ago and had developed a system themselves using internal resources.

With the upturn in the economy, migration CRM projects such as this are now back on the agenda for a number of reasons, including the usual need to stay compatible with IT and MS Office (remember Windows XP is out of life from April this year) and the need to streamline and improve existing processes to reflect the marketplace and needs of today, not of 5 or even 10 years ago.

This was classic case can be used to illustrate why we most often recommend proven CRM brands.

The client had a MS Access (2007) based database for their sales and marketing team, but a completely separate Paradox (very old) database for managing their customer service issues or cases and their installed equipment serial numbers , location etc. The problem was that neither of these systems talked to each other and that customer data was replicated across both plus both systems couldn’t be upgraded easily.

As the client said:- “We found that we were unable to move forward and needed to find an off-the-shelf solution that was quick and easy to implement. Our two systems were close to falling over and our key developer, whilst very good and able was now close to retiring. For us, these were business critical systems, which whilst they worked well individually were getting old and did leave us exposed. Our focus now is on developing our business into new markets and not in developing our own software. For us, it was far better to use an experienced consultancy to help us select a new CRM system. We were recommended to talk to MAS by our marketing agency, who have known MAS for 10 years.”

With custom developments, I also find other issues such as a lack of documentation and training material. Plus, the evolvement of the system has often been of an ad hoc nature. Most commonly, there is an often little integration with new MS Office packages (e.g. MS Outlook 2010).

But still the most common reason I come across is that the original database developer(s) have left or are about to leave the business. These system themselves were originally well designed and have delivered a good tactical solution for a number of years, making our migration easier. But they have lost some development momentum, so extra ‘databases’ often spring up to compensate (typically Excel Spread sheets are created to fill the gaps).*

Nowadays, SME organisations priority is on income generation, not in managing software development projects. After all, no one would now suggest developing a new word processing package themselves!

The position is in my view, the same for CRM, since I firmly believe that for most clients, there is no need to replicate what is already out there in abundance. A quick search showed 355 possible CRM systems, so where do you start?

If in any doubt, engage an independent CRM consultancy such as ourselves who have 16 years’ experience with a wide variety of CRM systems (GoldMine, ACT, MS CRM, Sage CRM, Sales Logix, Maximizer, Nimble CRM, Worksbooks.com and Salesforce.com). Our role really is to use our industry knowledge to help you to select the best CRM to match your business requirements.

*Part 2 of this Blog will talk about some of the challenges in moving from an old legacy system.

by Gary Perkins

7th February 2014

Should you create your own CRM system?

Or to put it another way, is it worthwhile designing and developing your own CRM system?

Recently, I had an enquiry from a large financial services company looking to purchase a large CRM system to act as their core platform, however, once they discovered the licencing costs for over 200 users and multiplied these over 5 or more years, the decision was taken to do this internally.  

For the first time in a while, this made me question if there are times when this should be considered, despite the fact that for the last 18 years I been recommending the benefits of why off- the-shelf CRM software such as GoldMine, SAGE CRM , ACT! and MS CRM is best!

Well, thinking about this situation, this particular company had a number of advantages:-

• They had strong and dedicated Project Management and Business Analysts’ team used to software projects

• They had their own established and stable software development team with excellent database skills and expertise

• A strong track record for delivering complex IT projects and custom solutions for their business users

• A variety of other industry specific systems needed to be integrated with , with which they were very familiar and had already integrated systems with many times over the years

• Their dedicated sales team were used to having and expecting customised solutions apart from standard MS Office/MS Outlook applications.

• Most importantly, they have long term financial stability and this meant that the IT team and many of the personnel had been in place for 5 or more years, thus a project may take a year or so, but the company were able to fund this and rely on a their core team of developers with many years of experience and low staff turnover.

Is this approach applicable to the smaller company?

My own view on reflection is that creating your own CRM still involves a high degree of risk and unless most of the core elements listed above are in place, can be too big a risk for most SME clients. CRM systems themselves have evolved greatly over the last 20 or so years and these are now often at the head of a range of complementary software, such as email marketing tools, marketing automation software etc.

For smaller companies, without the necessary financial resources and a strong and dedicated IT Development and Project Management team, replicating this depth of functionality would involve a lot of time, effort and risk. Even for software companies, my experience has shown that their own developers are increasingly being focussed on developing their own software for business income and do not have the spare capacity.

So what to do if you do not fit into this category?

Clearly, the key here is to engage with someone like ourselves who as an independent CRM consultancy can help you develop a business case, consider your core requirements and help you select the best CRM system from the wide range available. A recent survey we encountered, showed over 355 CRM systems capable of review!

In my view, our own role is to use our in-depth experience and knowledge of the market to help you select the best CRM for you. For more information or to request a CRM ‘Discovery’ meeting, please contact us using the form or call us

By Gary Perkins

17th January 2014

Integrating CRM and Social Media – Eight Tips on what to do and where to start!

Most of us involved in sales and marketing are increasingly aware of the power of Social Media and how this can impact the sales pipeline. Predicted growth in the adoption of CRM over the next five years is said to be driven by the ever closer integration of CRM with Social Media.

Recent research from Jim Keenhan, reinforces the benefits to sales teams of being active in social media and how for B2B businesses, the highest impact is associated with the use of LinkedIn.

MAS have been implementing proven CRM and Social Media techniques and have recently developed systematic processes for combining our CRM activity with Social Media.

However, the question we are most often asked is:-

“Where can I start to embed social media into our day to day activities on CRM?” 

So, here are our Top Eight Tips that your sales team can begin to use to integrate any CRM with LinkedIn usage:-

1: “Create a Killer LinkedIn Profile”. A great profile should be the key starting point and we coach this on our monthly Workshops. Another tip, make sure you have a good photo in your profile.

2: “Build Connections”. The more ‘personal’ your connections the better! We are not fans of connections for connections sake, since in our view, you need to know these connections for them to add real value. You should find it easy to build around 100 connections reasonably quickly, although a good target is at least 200.

3: “Learn to Fish in the right Pool”. This step is more difficult. Try to build your connections with people that can help you with your ideal target business prospect. For example, we tend to look to engage with companies with say, 10 to 3000 employees. These are our ‘on-profile’ prospect as experience shows we can add value to their sales, marketing and customer service teams

As you book appointments with your key prospects, our next tips are based around what to do when you have an appointment.

Your CRM system can store all the key data including data from Social media against your Contacts and add Attachments /Documents. Our final tips are:-

4: ‘Follow’ the prospect company on LinkedIn. Do this as soon as the appointment is booked, this will keep you up to with changes and what is going on. Take a screen print possibly of their Company page. Add this as an attachment to your CRM.

5: Who will be at the meeting? Find out who when you are confirming the appointment, i.e. “who else will be at our meeting’? Typically your CRM activity reminder could be “Confirm Appointment and all attendees”. No need to mention your use of LinkedIn here.

6: ‘Find’ these Attendees on LinkedIn. Ideally a week before find the attendees and you must click onto their profile, but don’t connect…they don’t know you yet and this may appear presumptive at this stage. This helps you in a number of ways:-

• Prospects can see you are serious in doing research before the meeting

• When they see their 'Who viewed your Profile’ in LinkedIn, they will frequently look at your profile. If the meeting is quite close, they will be aware of YOU and your company

• What you say in Your profile about your ability to help is critical, hence Tip# 1, creating a ‘Killer Profile’ is so important! It makes you stand out from the crowd.

7: Add their details to CRM and capture LinkedIn Profiles. Do this for ALL who are going to the meeting onto a single document. Add this again as a new attachment to your CRM. Most people have their photo on LinkedIn.

8 : Print your Meeting LinkedIn Profiles . Here is our final key tip. The hardest thing when meeting a number of new people at presentations is recalling who is who. With your printed off document, You now instantly know:-

• Who they are and more importantly, What they look like

• Typically what their role involves in their own words

• Possibly some common Connections; but use with caution this information, it can backfire!

Now that you are familiar with the attendee’s profile, you can talk confidently without the need to check so much for names or roles and sounding hesitant.

You are now better able to give complete focus to asking the right questions and in delivering your presentation.  This article is now available on Slideshare

by Gary Perkins

15th October 2013

What is Social CRM and does it matter?

The last few years have seen a massive increase in the use of Social Media such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn amongst others and this trend is now being embraced by CRM providers. Indeed, some new entrants are positioned as Social CRM only applications such as Nimble CRM.  Around four years ago, SAGE CRM and their developer community were one of the first to have focussed time and effort in developing solid fully functioning CRM integration for social media and this development has continued into SAGE CRM 7.2.

What is Social CRM?

Paul Greenberg, a CRM Guru of many years is often quoted, but for ourselves, a simpler explanation we use is that Social CRM “is the integration of CRM and Social Media applications and techniques to create relationships with customers and prospects using social media for marketing, customer service, research, networking and prospecting and using those social media channels relevant to your audience”.

Today, all mainstream CRM applications have fully embraced social media with links or views able to integrate Twitter feeds, LinkedIn, Facebook and other channels such as Yammer etc.

Why does it matter?

Social media for sales and marketing offers some great opportunities to develop ever closer relationships with your prospects and customers, in much the same way as when email marketing was integrated into CRM system around 7-10 years ago, but at a more personal, engaging level.

Recent research has shown that those Reps using Social Media and are on the whole better able to close sales and improve sales conversions and a great article from Jim Keenan published in Forbes.com demonstrates how sales people using social media for networking, prospecting and research were up to 72% better performers and exceeded sales targets or quota 23% more often.

In all the studies, LinkedIn was found to be the number one source for B2B sales performance improvement and the keystone for sales success. The reason most quoted for not using Social media was not understanding and lack of training in 75% of cases. This is where MAS are at the forefront of this new move to enhance CRM users and use Social CRM productively.

By Gary Perkins

How MAS can help?

MAS have formed a Strategic Alliance with BizLinks and are offering our own monthly CRM and LinkedIn Workshops in Worcester and London together with supporting Social Media and CRM Coaching Programmes for our own clients.

If you want to find out more on how you can help to maximise your CRM and Social media contact MAS on 01905 380920 and mention this blog...

10th July 2013

Key Criteria for choosing a CRM system

What should you look for when choosing a CRM system? As with everything, the choice can be bewildering and frankly, sometimes incomprehensible. By asking some simple questions, you can make the selection process much easier.

1. Do you want to own the software or rent it?

2. Do you want your data to be hosted on your own network of PCs and servers? Or are you relaxed about this being hosted on the Cloud or other 3rd party provider. Pros: with Cloud based, you can be up and running quicker, often in 24 hours. Cons: with Cloud based, there may be some constraints, as the data is hosted externally and you are likely to have on-going subscription costs for the life of your contract.

3. What functions come with the CRM system? Do you need them or will you use all of them? Make sure you ask what each function does and how potentially it could help you. If you are never going to use it, then don’t have it. If, however, you might consider it for the future, check to see if you can add it on at a later date. Look at your core needs and stick to them.

4. How many people will access the system and what skills do they have? Training is often a critical but overlooked or compromised item in any CRM Project. Make sure you have a core project team who are well trained and understand the system and objectives. Do you have your own trainers or do you require full training?

5. Consider remote users, how often the team will access the CRM system and from where and How. If the system is to be accessed remotely, do you need a different internet connection? Can your internal server cope with demand? Do you have your own IT department? If so, what do they need to be proficient in (e.g. MS technologies such as SQL skills).

6. What do you want the CRM system to be linked to? Do you need to integrate the system? You may, for example, use it simply as a CRM system and just need email such as MS Outlook linked. However, you may want to link it to a finance system or even your ERP system or just an ability to show or view core information. Check how important this is and if it is worth the extra costs, especially in any initial phase.

7. How can you measure success? This is a very important consideration. If you previously haven’t been using a CRM system, then the chances are that you won’t have a benchmark to measure ROI. So in order to get accurate information that you can act on, consider what data you put into the system from existing sources or spreadsheets. How old is the data and how accurate is it … basically, streamline and update any data that you input initially and assess regular weekly or monthly reports for optimum feedback.

This list is just a quick snapshot for consideration, but as in any IT project, planning is the key to success as well as having a competent and enthusiastic Project Team. For more help in choosing and advising you on the best solution for your business and to leverage 15 years CRM implementation experience, please contact us.

By Gary Perkins

2nd May 2013

CRM – Back to Basics

We hear a lot about CRM and how it’s the latest must-have – but what exactly is CRM and how can it help you?

What’s CRM?

CRM stands for ‘Customer Relationship Management’ and is a software system and importantly a culture that helps track customers and prospects and keeps these at the forefront of the organisation. Effectively, this system is used to manage any or all customer facing activities, including pre-sales, sales, post-sales, and customer service. Another name for CRM is ‘Contact Management’ which is still the core function of a CRM system. Key abilities include:

• Following up leads

• Tracking progress on sales opportunities

• Tracking progress on customer issues or cases

• Accessing marketing campaign performance and tracking the source of leads

• Giving management visibility of all customer interactions and ensuring most importantly information is up to date

• Ensuring staff are more targeted in their customer interaction.

• Giving management clear reports on customer and prospect activity to enable decision to be made and core metrics developed for measurement.

The CRM software is particularly helpful for marketing, as it can help with email campaigns, mail shots and mail merges. The primary aim of a CRM system is to give a single view of a customer, replacing old legacy systems where data is often held in different ‘silo’ by department. For example multiple Excel spreadsheets being used to track leads, sales opportunities or indeed customer issues, none of which are connected or indeed sharing the same core data.

Manual v CRM

Imagine that your old excel spreadsheets are not updated or are outgrown: sometimes staff simply do not have the time or resources to concentrate on simple yet boring admin. CRM helps you to manage and update information, and enable more visibility of how a customer account works. This includes the interaction between key front facing staff, such as sales, marketing, customer services and sales engineers.

With CRM you can measure the number of leads, monitor the number of lost opportunities and the amount of customer issues or cases you have.

Importantly, CRM enables managers to maintain a good view of what is current, rather than having to wade through mountains of information that tend to build up with manual spreadsheets etc. This enables better decision making and more instant and up to date reporting.

Who Benefits from CRM?

So who benefits most from a CRM System? The simple answer is the whole company! Once implemented, everyone has a single and consistent view of the interaction and journey of a prospect through to a customer and then after-sales saving valuable time.

Once the system is implemented, then the process is easy to maintain, with MAS on hand at all times should any further assistance be required.

The fact is that companies who install CRM perform better than those who don’t, but bottom line, what is the payback time of installing a CRM system? As always this is difficult to judge but on average, once installed, CRM systems stay in place for about five to eight years before being changed.

So in all, it makes good business sense and a good return on investment to have a CRM installed. 

By Gary Perkins

11th March 2013