I recently had the good fortune of meeting with a group of colleagues to discuss what the heck a CRM really is. We came up with a few acronyms:
Crazy Random Mess
Can’t Really MakeSense
Causes Real Mania
You get the drift. CRM has a pretty poor reputation and we decided to brainstorm on why. What are the real issues that give this business tool such a black eye?
At this gathering, we had folks using a variety of CRM software solutions - some large and some small. It did not make a difference what the tool was - we discussed how to use the tool in a meaningful way. Several key challenges emerged from our discussion:
Getting historic data into a system – what do you keep and what do you trash?
How do I get reports that make sense for me and my organization?
How do I get my team to use the software?
We may have heard these questions before but the point is - how do we solve them?
For any CRM to work, every organization needs an internal CRM Champion - someone who eats their Wheaties and owns the CRM and its processes. The Champion must work with both the CRM users and the team who will maintain the CRM. In small organizations these "teams" may actually be one person, while in a larger organization it may be several people.
Most folks deploying a CRM are in sales or marketing. They know a lot about their clients - but not so much about software. On the flip side, IT knows a lot about software but very little about clients. The Champion must work to bring these two sides together to form a united front.
With a CRM Champion and a good execution plan, you can work through your challenges. Many organizations do not realize that this is indeed a journey.
That's right, a CRM is not a 'plug and play.' It is not a static software - you use it when you need it. It is a dynamic, ever-moving system of information and data. It needs to be maintained and groomed, not unlike the family dog. And you get a friend for life!
Done properly, your CRM is a wealth of knowledge on your clients and potential clients. Even better - it's all yours. The information you need is at your fingertips. You will save time, present accurate data reporting and bring accuracy to your forecast. It is amazing what you can see about your business.
At the end of the day, a CRM can mean Central Relationship Master!