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In CRM. Are they Leads or the Usual Suspects?

Continuing with our occasional ‘CRM in practice’ blog series, probably one of the biggest questions which comes up is:

What is the difference between a Lead and a Suspect?

The answer is that it will somewhat depend on your chosen CRM software. Writing this blog, I thought it would be simple to find some definitions, but surprisingly it is not. Do a quick search yourself and the definitions are very close, so it depends on your perspective. Here are mine...


The most confusing term is that of a Lead. This is a Sales Lead where, and this may depend on your own business use, they are not currently doing business with you. Usually they are new to your database. This could be classified as an Account level classification type, although sometimes a Lead is created and tracked in its own right before being promoted to a sales Opportunity after qualification if they meet your profile. A Lead could be simply someone you met on at a tradeshow or just a phone call-in. Importantly your CRM enables you to track this Lead and also Assign it. Losing and not following-up on Leads is still one of the main catalysts in choosing a CRM system.

Leads can start outside of the system as a separate entity in their own right and may not be registered as an Account or Contact on your system yet. This is where it comes to understanding how your software treats Leads. In Customer Relationship Managementsoftware, it can sit in a separate ‘container’ slightly distant from your main database, although and this is confusing, you can often attach a Lead to an existing company or contact.


Now a Suspect is easier to define, since generally they are seen as someone that has been either partially qualified and that you believe fits in with your target profile and you could potentially do business with them. This is just another Account Type within your main database since they have been sufficiently qualified to create a FULL record. So, in our use, anyone who has a CRM system could be a target for one of our CRM Optimisation Auditssince this is not system centric. You may now have more additional information completed and this could include number of employees, a great indicator of size and most clients will give you this information readily.

Now an easy one…Prospects

We are now ‘out of the jungle’ and in clearer territory, where everyone can pretty much agree and there is a lot less confusion and no need to search Wikipedia!

Prospects are people you are actively engaged with at Account level and they meet all your key criteria to sell too whether now or in the near future. Most likely you have created aSales Opportunity, but even if you lose this particular sale, they may still remain a Prospect for the future. You know that you can meet their requirements, but they may not be in a position to need or want your services just right now.

Using these within a typical CRM System

We now need to apply to our own CRM database.

According to the CRM Triangle which we use to begin to explain the concept there are three core entities. However, this is now not strictly true since most full systems such as Sage CRM, Pipeliner CRM to name some of the Big Five have the concept of a separate Leads Entity.

Leads as an entity are often used by Marketing as a ‘container’ for Marketing campaigns before being “passed across” to the Sales Team as strong Suspects or Prospects after your various qualification criteria have been met. Sales now own these and must progress them.

Within this CRM world, these definitions remain blurred. We can all accept that a Prospect is someone you can deal business with and who meets your key qualification criteria. A Prospect will most probably have, if they are at the right stage, a Sales Opportunity against it.

As we have said earlier a Lead can be promoted to a Sales Opportunity AND Account/Contact since they rest in this separate ‘container’ as shown.

So, looking at the diagram, in CRM terms a Lead is unqualified, really a Suspect waiting to be qualified but possibly with an embryonic Sales Opportunity, often with some value. Once Qualified it is either promoted into the main Database and an Account/Contact AND an Opportunity is created at the same time. Typically, it is now a Suspect or Propsects depending on your own processes.

What to do now?

Writing this blog reinforces the need to document your own Sales processes and definitions and share these in your Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s).

A great starting point is a workshop between Sales and Marketing to agree on your own definitions and processes. To help create this sales and marketing alignment of terminology, we have put together some simple graphics you can download from our ebook if you want to illustrate these concepts better. The download includes additional references.

Download the 'CRM in Practice' eBook

by Gary Perkins

3rd February 2016

Using Account Classification is as simple as ABC

This is an occasional series of "CRM In Practice " blogs where we explore not which is the best CRM , but some of the best practice ideas found in CRM which can help you get the most out of your CRM software.

When you implement a system, clients find there is a host of functionality that is pre- built in, but which they may not fully understood the use of. My best example is in MS Dynamics CRM which has a ‘ticket’ field...

We often have to explain this is a field in which 95% of the time we remove. It is used to identify a Stock Market ticker symbol (Microsoft is MSFT) on say the NASDAQ Stock Exchange which unlikely to be used by UK SME’s.

Classifying your Customers

As a first CRM good practice, we will start with Customer Classification.

A Customer in our parlance is someone who has purchased from us and with whom we have an Active relationship, be this on a weekly, monthly or annually transaction basis we treat them as a Customer. In most CRM systems the field is likely to be called Account Typeor Account Status and have a dropdown selection for Customer, Prospect, Competitor, Supplier etc.

However, we know that Not All Customers are the same.

Whilst this simple label can be useful it can be helpful to differentiate between Customers. Understanding and profiling your customers we discuss in details during our CRM Optimisation Workshops. It is important that sales and marketing teams are aware of the differences between Customers.

A useful profiling exercise is the simple ABCD classification which is both easy to understand and which some applications such as Pipeliner CRM include as standard. Using or adding this as an extra field gives an instant view of the Perceived value of a Customer quickly.

We use the "ABCD" classification to focus on potential and call this the Account Class. The selection options are just “ABCD”. Here, we are rating our view of the customers underlying potential. You can compare this approach to using the Harvard Boston Consulting Matrixwhich is a similar concept.

In our own system, we use “ABCD” definitions as follows:-

• A Customers are the best, they are your “A” Class or A Grade clients and are great customers to work with and importantly keep. They should be profitable and you should have a good fit to their needs. In US parlance, they are “Awesome!”

• B Customers have “Big potential “and you will want to develop these into becoming your next generation ‘A’ class Customers.

• C Customers are those who for whatever business reasons you ‘Can’t deal with’. The relationship is not going anywhere, but simply up sucking time and resource. These can hang around so you need to Move them up or Move them out.

• D Customers are either “Dead” or “Divorced” from you and you should recognise this fact. You may want to have one last try to re-engage, or just accept your relationship is finished, you are now Divorced. It’s over, so deal with it and move on! Following on this analogy, you may still want to re-connect at a later stage, things may change.

Pipeliner CRM has an extra selection ‘0’ for ‘unclassified’ or ‘pending classification’. Importantly this is an audited field so you can view the changes in the ‘Audit’ tab. We encourage this with other systems to be a trackable field. It can be useful to see these changes over time, so ensure your sales team add a note with their reason for any change.


By having a better understanding of your customer profile using the simple ABCD classification can help to identify those clients needing more support and who your team should be cultivating and keeping.

We all know of the 80/20 rule and this classification often reinforces this concept, but for your sales and marketing team, it shows instantly in one simple field who to focus on and why with the A for Awesome customer and B for Big potential it is clear. For SME’s moving from start-up ‘finding customers’ phase to growth phase this is a useful exercise in understanding which customers you want to keep and which you need to spend time on developing or dropping.

Introducing some sort of Customer’s Account Classification can be extremely useful, but does need to be monitored and reviewed at least annually. It is a useful field for planning and budgeting to highlight where to invest marketing funds and support.

We talked earlier about the “CRM Optimisation Audit” and this is one example where we review your existing system and processes. Interested in finding out more? Go to the CRM Optimisation Audit where you can download our 2016 checklist, a useful starting point in reviewing your own CRM system.

Find out more about the 'CRM Optimisation Workshop'

by Gary Perkins

26th January 2016

Preparing your CRM for 2016

As 2015 is drawing to a close, we often get asked ‘what we do with our CRM system?’ and if there are any best practices we can share. And yes, there are a number of things you can do and a few things we think you should avoid over the festive period…

My Top Five Things to do…

1. Tidy up your data. The success of a CRM can be measured by the quality of the data that is stored within it. Cleaning up your data should be an ongoing task but with every well laid idea, it doesn’t always go to plan. Ideally, do not delete data unless you have a back-up organised. The number one helpdesk call in the New Year we get is for missing data. Records have been deleted or you can’t access the system as something has been moved/attempted over the break. Use the time to set a “deletion flag” on records you want to delete for some reason, then….

2. Hold an “End of Year CRM” Meeting to decide what to do in the coming year. The key here is CRM planning, let people know what is being planned for the New Year, so you can look at:-

1. Reviewing the needs for changes to the CRM System. E.g. Add a workflow, screen designs.

2. Ensuring your have documented SOP’s on key processes such as Lead Engagement, Opportunity creation.

3. Review Your Licence and Training needs for the New Year.

4. Look at possible integrations, for example. Is there a need for Email Marketing?

5. Engage with the users and emphasise the importance of accountability. They are the individuals who will be in control of the data, its maintenance and quality. They need to take responsibility for owning the data and ensuring that everything is kept up to date.

3. Look at Key client contacts. As previously mentioned good quality data can be key for a successful CRM system. One way to ensure the aata is accurate, relevant and of high quality is to allocate your Sales team a number of accounts to review. Allocate each member of your Sales team say 20 Key Accounts to ensure contacts are up to date with correct Job Titles, Salutations etc. LinkedIn is a great tool to help with this.

4. Update your ‘Open’ Opportunities. Now is the time to be realistic about which Opportunities are just hanging around and which can be successfully closed. A good tip is to look at your “average days to close” and measure which ones have been open too long. This all impacts on your Sales Velocity. So review these older opportunities and be realistic, If they are Lost update them with reasons as you have the time to fill in why they were lost and review. When you come back on 4th January you will have an accurate pipeline without too much baggage from 2015. And yes, if this means you have a smaller pipeline, then you know you need to generate some more!

5. Have a Back-Up organised. Once you have cleansed, maintained and ensured your data is of the highest quality, the last thing you want to do is to lose it all! Ensuring you have a back-up organised before you go away for Christmas and making sure this is taken off-site is critical. Recent events in Cumbria just show the need for off-site backups to be stored, at least weekly. This is not an expensive thing to do but losing business critical data is!

And, my Top Three Things not to do...

1. Don’t Upgrade in Festive Period. However tempting it may be, really from around the 18th December until the end of first week in January, try not to do any major or minor system upgrades unless you have notified your CRM support and planned this together in advance. As time is hanging between Xmas and New Year, many will be tempted to ‘just apply’ this upgrade patch, but remember, most Helpdesks are often reduced as people use up thier holidays.

2. If you are an On-Premise system,don’t move to a new server. This seems simple, but agree with your CRM consultancy first. Whilst invariably this may be a good idea, this still needs careful planning and more importantly your IT supplier and CRM consultancy are likely to be working on skeleton staff over the Christmas break.

3. Don’t apply MS Office/Outlook Upgrades. Again, tempting, but most systems have plug-ins to work with MS Office/Outlook and these are often locally installed. You need also first check compatibility with your Customer Relationship Management software edition and your Helpdesk since this may affect all your users and they will be frustrated if this is not working from the off.

We have complied an eBook “Preparing your CRM for 2016” with an expanded checklist of 9 things to do and 5 things not to do for you to download!

So, if you are tempted, our advice is to be indulge in the mince pies instead and leave your CRM to have its own well earned festive break!

Free Preparing your CRM for 2016 eBook

by Charlie Barrett

8th December 2015

The Big 5 Cloud Based CRM 'Challengers.  Part 2

In Part 1, we looked at two dominating Big Beasts, whilst in this blog we focus on the Market Challengers. These are systems targeting the 5 to 50 User market but which have sufficient depth of functionality and mobile access to support sales and marketing teams and are able to provide the necessary business reporting analytics needed for a mid-sized corporate running sales and marketing teams of typically 5-25 users.

Let’s start with…


Available as a Cloud model ever since CRMC became an accredited Partner in 2004, Sage is available as an on-premise solution or via the cloud as There are two editions-Standard and Advanced but in the Cloud, these editions are known as Essentials andProfessional.

Entry pricing ranges from £20 for Essentials to £50 for Professional Edition per named User per month. These can be purchased on a monthly basis. Another differentiator is the ability to have Concurrent licencing and this makes Sage an attractive and easy to deploy system as both a Cloud based CRM and on-premise.

My belief is that this application offers one of the best value propositions for a full blown system which won’t break the bank and is an easy to use system.

As with the Lion, it is well known, but can be easily overlooked by the other Two Big Beasts,but still has a big bite out of this market. With over 15,000 deployments worldwide, Sage is definitely worth considering and in our experience where it is a good fit it will stay the course.

Next, we have a sales focussed application which is gaining market share rapidly and in our view becoming a serious rival to the Big Beasts in the mid-market for sales and marketing teams.

Pipeliner CRM

We have chosen the Leopard to reflect Pipeliner CRM, since it is an agile application and with a number of major releases in 2015 and an impressive road map is rapidly now gaining ground amongst sales teams.

An easy to use tool with an innovative highly visual approach, enabling easy adoption by sales teams and as you would expect, focussing on achieving and managing your Sales Pipeline. This is still one of the to 10 main factors in choosing a Customer RelationshipManagement system. There are a host of add-on integrations which can expand core functionality.

As a Market Challenger, it works with both Google e-mail and MS Outlook, nowadays a key consideration in the SME market. In my opinion, definitely one to watch and we became an accredited partner earlier this year.

As a pure Cloud application with mobile access and with offline access, include in your list especially if you sales team is needing to focus on sales pipeline. There is one edition for the £25 per user per month, billed annually fee. New “Insights” functionality gives senior management strong visual analytics to salesman and cross-team performance….one to consider.

This brings us to our final Big 5 Cloud application...


I have compared Zoho to the Cape Buffalo as it is a large animal and like some of the other applications has a whole range of extra editions and add-on modules which whilst impressive, need to be managed. Zoho has been in the UK a few years and we come across it quite often, although whilst it has an attractive price point and indeed a free edition, this is also symptomatic of its target market and in our experience, tends to be used by smaller teams of less than 15 users.

However, it is an attractive offering and the popular Professional Edition is around £15 per user per month. Nowadays, we don’t see this as a fast moving or evolving application. Zoho adopts a modular approach, but currently for small SME’s it is worth considering and there is a free edition available with limited funtionality..

Whilst we don’t resell , we have worked with a Strategic Partner and have a good working knowledge of where Zoho will fits well and indeed, have recommended this to clients.


We firmly believe that the key to matching any of these applications to your business is by first holding a Workshop where your key stakeholders, mentored and coached by an CRMC  consultant can identify and document your requirements prior to any final decision taking place.

These then are our Big Five Beasts and whilst space precludes going into too much detail on“What we Like” and “What we don’t Like” about each application, we have an ebookdownload on “The Big Five" which delves deeper into these applications together with giving you more insight into likely deployment costs and allowances for professional services. This ebook should enable you to estimate your own Cost of Ownership comparisons.

Download The Big Five Cloud Based CRM eBook

by Gary Perkins

25th November 2015

The Big Five Cloud Based CRM.  The 'Big Beasts' Part 1


Having visited South Africa recently, this started me thinking about the Big Five beasts of the CRM Cloud world and with a host of CRM applications out there in the cloud and seemingly an endless choice, these are my top five ‘best of breed’ applications you should be considering and unless there are special circumstances, you need to review these systems first.

I have assumed you are looking for between 5 to 25 or more sales and marketing users whilst for under 5 users there are even more applications out there, but be careful.

This blog will consist of two parts, with the first focussing on the two biggest and MS Dynamics CRM.

These offer everything from a single user deployment up to thousands of users and are the dominant beasts of this cloud marketplace. But like every big beast, you need to be wary and hence our choice of animal:-

MS Dynamics CRM

An easy choice since Dynamics is very much an all-in-one package and I frequently refer to Dynamics as the Big Beast.

This application has now been around for a number of years and MS CRM 2015 is the current UK cloud option and I think this is the best version yet, although I do find it still a bit clunky. But this version resolves some of the previous issues with features such as auto-saving and a better designed and easier to understand layout which is less busy and complex than previous versions such as MS CRM 2011.

Just taking it off-the-shelf is a risk since with over 200 entities, it is inherently flexible, but for smaller SME ‘s we find that unless it is deployed as a ‘vanilla’ installation, then much time and effort can be spent on customising and in reducing functionality for the user. At some point, we find that you will need some specialist consultancy to help since the product is so vast and your IT team can easily become lost and not understand the complex interdependencies and the Dynamics ‘way of thinking’.

That said, a truly powerful application and now with extensive additional capabilities available including Social Listening, Marketing Automation and Email Marketing modules.MS Outlook integration is often the key factor in choosing Dynamics and the version includes full Cases and Contracts functionality.


This will depend on if you are using MS Office 365. If you are, it is around £31.20 per user per month on an annual subscription per named User. If not, MS Dynamics CRM Online Professional edition price is £40.50 per user per month annual subscription or from a Hosting Partner such as ourselves, we offer a monthly payment option from £41.50 per month.


You definitely need to consider a CRM Migration Workshop first in order to understand how much you need to customise the application to suit and to estimate the time and effort involved, whosoever does this. Our ebook gives some useful guidelines on allowances for deployment, see below.

Dynamics have a huge channel of Partners from which to obtain help from.

Salesforce has probably the biggest cloud reputation and user base and has been around since 2007: we have likened this to the Rhino. Salesforce can be assertive since they have a direct sales model primarily and we understand can be quite thick skinned, hence the choice of animal. They tend to be very focussed and single minded on Licences revenue, hence again the Rhino analogy.

My view is this is an easier product to use than MS CRM and with a clean ‘look and feel’ for users, it appears to be pretty well liked when customised to fit.


Usually one of the first applications to be looked at and you can start with a pilot of under 5 users from £17 per month, for more than 5 users in our example, you will be looking at theSales Cloud edition for sales and marketing teams at £45 per month per user per month with an annual subscription in advance. offer an extensive range of modular add-ons and anecdotal evidence from clients often mention keenness to upsell towards the Enterprise edition at £85 per user per month. There are a wide range of other third party add-on applications in the Apps Marketplace to keep you in their eco-system.


Salesforce can implement direct, but will often use or recommend their Implementation Partners although it is easier for an administrator to customise at a lower level, but you must still be clear from your Workshop of the modules you will require both now and in the future in order to budget accordingly. consultants tend to average around £850 to £1000 per day although this is similar to MS CRM consultancy rates. More on this in our ebook download.

The Big 2 Conclusion!

Whilst these applications are targeted at SME’s the reason these are Big Beasts is that they really come into their own with their depth of functionality when being deployed across larger enterprises. For the target market mentioned earlier, they are eminently suitable, but you do need to allow in my view for external consultancy and certainly it is good to budget for as mentioned in a previous blog.

With these applications, not allowing for external consultancy and training is in my view creating a false expectation and relying too much on vendor marketing messages. Having committed to an amount of £400-600 annually per licence in theory for the next four or more years, any consultancy and training investment is small in comparison to the overallTotal Cost of Ownership and your need for successful adoption.

These then are my two Big Beasts and as with the Elephant and the Rhino my conclusion is that you do need to be wary of the implications and danger of underestimating the amount of time and effort involved in matching these applications to fit your needs and processes.

Next week, I will look at some of the “Market Challengers” and we will be publishing our ebook on this market place with a more detailed view and some key deployment guidelines on each of the applications.

Download The Big Five Cloud Based CRM eBook

by Gary Perkins

18th November 2015

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.


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


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.


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? …’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


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, and 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