This is the first of a series of articles focused on the
execution of CRM, directed primarily to software resellers, vendors, and
consultants. The majority of you may view your role in CRM as a provider
of CRM technology and services. Most view CRM implementation as three
phases: selling the CRM technology, designing it, and implementing/using
it. Depending on the type of provider, your role may lean more towards
sales, with little involvement in design and implementation.
Think about these questions:
- Which of these phases is the longest? Which of these should be the
- How do you measure success with your customers? By the number of
sales or closes? By revenue? Or by successful implementation of CRM
- Which of these phases impacts your reputation and future sales the
- How do you create value for your customers during the sales cycle?
We are all pressured to sell more, faster. Success is normally measured
by the revenues produced in a given time period. The reality is that some
sellers of CRM are so anxious to close the deal and gain the commitment
from the users of CRM, that they bypass the most important role of all
~ creating value for the customer. Here’s the problem: inadequate
analysis and planning during the software evaluation process will inevitably
cause a delay in design and implementation. When the customer’s
experience is frustrating, they will take it out on you and the software! So how can software resellers, vendors and consultants bridge the gap
between a company’s readiness for CRM and the implementation of
technology? Consider these best practices:
- Measure success from the customer’s eyes. Your success depends on the value created for the customer during all
three phases. Your credibility rests on your customer’s experience during sales, design & implementation ~ whether you are a participant
- Pay now or pay later. Short sales cycles normally
mean longer, more frustrating design and implementation cycles. The
more thorough you are in your analysis during the sales cycle, the faster
and more efficient the design and implementation phases will be for
- Be an asset, not just a vendor. It’s not about
the technology; it’s the integration of that technology into the
company’s culture, processes, and business strategy. You can enhance
your role by facilitating the CRM change process for your customers.
At minimum during the sales cycle, help your customer develop an Organizational
Readiness GAP Analysis, a CRM Strategy, and Critical Success Factors
for CRM. Now, let’s briefly review these three best practices.
Organizational Readiness GAP Analysis
Organizational CRM readiness refers to the level of structural, cultural,
financial, intellectual, and technological resources and skills embedded
and available to the company. This assessment process allows a company
to evaluate its current conditions in key CRM areas and then define the
level of risk associated with the implementation of CRM. The degree of
CRM success depends on how well the risks are managed, i.e. how well the
gaps and corrections are defined and implemented. The results of this
analysis are the foundation for development of a CRM Strategy.
What is a CRM Strategy?
A company must know where it is today, where it wants to be in the future,
and how it is going to get there. In a nutshell, CRM is a business strategy
and philosophy ~ it is future-oriented. A CRM strategy is guided by a
Vision Statement as well as supporting values and behaviors. The key elements
of the strategy are guided by these principles:
- CRM is based on customer knowledge and the voice of the
customer. Data and information are the raw materials of CRM.
- CRM is not technology ~ technology merely enables it. Technology
is the machinery that enables CRM to work.
- CRM requires that an organization be customer-centric and display
- CRM requires the right people. People are the power
supply of CRM.
- CRM is a set of processes and experiences designed with
the customer in mind. Customer-centered processes & experiences
are the products of CRM.
- CRM improves human interactions.
- CRM creates value for both the company and the customer.
- CRM strategies must include clear, measurable objectives and metrics. It is virtually impossible to improve what you don’t
What are Critical Success Factors?
Critical success factors or CSFs are skills, actions, values or behaviors
that influence the desired CRM performance. They are measurable, actionable,
and specific to your market or industry. Identifying critical success
factors is an evaluation approach that is used to gauge whether the company
has achieved its desired performance. Before embarking on the CRM journey,
it is important for the company to identify those issues critical to its
business. If the issues or factors were absent, the company would not
There are hundreds of general critical success factors available in the
CRM literature today. You can find all kinds of lists in white papers,
books, articles, vendor case studies, and so on. The problem is that ‘one
size does not fit all’!
Here a sampling of some generic CSFs for CRM:
- Establish and obtain acceptance of change.
- Ensure that changes are compatible with the customer’s needs.
- Integrate CRM objectives with business objectives.
- Integrate the voice of the customer within all strategies.
- Be honest about your current conditions.
- Solicit input and obtain support from all CRM stakeholders ~ all
- Make a commitment to change.
- Measure all successes and failures and communicate them openly.
- Embrace negative feedback from customers.
- Use CRM information (customer knowledge) in all critical business
- Partner only with external parties that have the same customer-centric
values and beliefs as we do.
- Partner with external stakeholders that have experience with CRM
– both good and bad.
- Be patient when making changes.
- Ensure that technology follows process design – not the other
- Empower employees to make decisions beneficial to customers.
Each CSF is given a level of importance, i.e. high, medium or low. This
aids the company in ranking or prioritizing strategies and evaluating
Dr. Nancy Rauseo is on the faculty of Florida International University’s
College of Business Administration where she teaches marketing and CRM.
Nancy holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Purdue
University and an M.B.A and Ph.D. from Nova Southeastern University. Prior
to her teaching career, she held various senior management positions for
over 20 years in the areas of sales, marketing and technology implementation.
For information about our CRM On-line training, please visit us at AXIS.