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CRM – debunking the myths

19th Feb 2007
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By Matthew Crook, SalesCentric

Companies are continuing to invest heavily in CRM, so are clearly confident in its business value. Yet in 2004, AMR Research found that 28 percent of CRM projects failed to go live and in 2005 Forrester Research found that more than half of CRM users were unhappy with their return on investment. Many CRM managers come up against users who do not fully appreciate the value of CRM and perceive it as a completely unnecessary tool. CRM project managers should work proactively to debunk the following myths surrounding CRM and better manage users’ expectations of the technology.

1. CRM is too difficult to use
This is the view of many employees who, following the implementation, do not make the effort to understand how to use it and how it will benefit their work and performance. In fact, many people don’t even know what CRM is so choose to ignore it causing adoption rates to fall. If employees don’t understand how to use the software they become impatient and don’t realise that CRM is a process and will not generate overnight success. Companies should install CRM applications which are easy to and provide adequate training to ensure rapid adoption of the technology.

2. CRM will make me change the way I do things
Many employees don’t realise how CRM will help them increase business leads and get to know their customers better. The prevailing attitude tends to be ‘it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ and believe they worked well without it, so don’t understand why they have to change. The truth is, if it incorporates conscious and unconscious processes developed over time within the business it can enhance existing sales processes and drive a competitive advantage. Make sure you involve everyone in the process right from the start, particularly those responsible for entering the data otherwise they will feel left out of the loop. Users are then involved with the configuration process and take-up typically increases as a result.

3. CRM gives me too much confusing information
The majority of CRM systems are not flexible enough to change according to the way in which a business interacts with different types of customers. They also fail to filter the information presented to the user each time he or she logs on, causing information-overload to the frustrated user. In short, the one-size-fits-all approach fails to take into account the needs of every individual business. In many cases users find it difficult to navigate around the interface which is overpopulated with text and cannot find the information they need. This can be solved by ensuring all users receive full training and support and are not afraid to pick up the phone to ask more questions about the system. Users will also find it easier using CRM software which provides a visual map of business processes and only the information that the user needs at that time.

4. CRM is time-consuming
The most common complaint of CRM systems voiced by sales people is that they are time-consuming. This can be overcome by using CRM tools that do not require a sales person to input masses of information in the first instance if they don’t have enough time at that point. Users should be able to create leads by inputting minimal data and the rest of the information could be entered at a later stage. In fact, sales people can save more time by setting up a phone line on which they leave messages about sales leads. Following this, an administrator could access these messages and complete the leads on the systems at a more convenient time.

5. Using CRM frightens me
Companies share similar opinions surrounding CRM. Mainly concerning employees who don't want to share their client information. Statistics will become readily available that make employees more accountable for their roles. It also raises critical operational questions like: How do we manage our resources differently to make this happen? Who is going to provide training and support? How are we going to manage our time under this initiative? Will this change our sales processes? Do we need to rethink roles and responsibilities? All these worries need to be tackled at the start of the project otherwise users will reject the system.

6. CRM makes me share information I’d prefer to keep to myself
Sales people are well known for keeping valuable information close to their chests. They are very competitive and don’t see how sharing information with their colleagues will benefit them. What they fail to see is the big picture and how by sharing information and business processes they could in turn be helping their colleagues reach their sales targets and increase revenues (and therefore individual bonuses) for the entire business.

7. CRM will solve my business strategy problems
Companies are spending money on CRM software without considering their business strategy or processes and should remember that CRM isn’t just about the software; it’s a complex process that’s useful only if companies know which problems they’re trying to solve. Success comes from a deep and proven ability to work within a business, to go beyond the easily defined processes to include the collective unconscious competence that has evolved through experience and over the lifetime of the business.

8. CRM was implemented without my knowledge
How often do you hear a sales manager complain that they haven’t been consulted in the buying process of a CRM system? IT departments buy the software and automatically assume the sales teams will like it. In fact, they react completely differently. They are completely overwhelmed by the amount of information they receive on the product, think it’s hard work and reject it. If sales managers do not use the system then neither will sales executives. Without full support from all users the CRM system will not be used to its full potential and the business will not see any return on the investment.

Without real commitment from the business to a CRM system, competitive advantage a company could gain from using it is unobtainable. The implementation of a CRM solution must be led by a steering committee who should actively work with users to drive the methodology. CEOs, business managers, users, terrorists (those most opposed to change) must be involved through solution design, deployment and adoption. What is clear is that success or failure arises though user adoption or rejection of the software, so once user rate increases then businesses will start to see the real benefits of the technology.

Matthew Crook is CEO at SalesCentric. Before joining SalesCentric Matthew was UK country manager for CNT, the US storage networking company, where he managed UK business and operations. Previously, Matthew was a main board director at financial services provider Mondas Plc, regional sales director for mainframe computing vendor Hitachi Data Systems and, earlier, regional sales manager with data storage provider EMC. He has more than 20 years experience in leading and improving sales for large corporations.

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