I have had the pleasure of presenting “Sneak Peeks” of Dynamics CRM 2011 across the country the last few weeks. At each event, I get more excited about the upcoming launch of CRM 2011. At each event, there has been a mix of current Dynamics CRM users and people evaluating CRM. Today, the entire event was made up of people evaluating CRM. They had looked at Dynamics CRM 4.0 and found it lacking some critical features but were pretty excited about CRM 2011. I did have an interesting question posed to me, one that gets asked frequently. One company saw the benefit of CRM and liked the Microsoft CRM 2011 application, but was stuck and wanted to know what a company needed to have in place to be successful with CRM. Did they need formal processes, a current application, strong leadership, younger workforce, etc.? They saw the possibilities of CRM, but had a problem seeing how they could internally sell and begin such a project. This is a great question to ask BEFORE purchasing a CRM application. Too often, an organization gets excited about CRM to “increase sales” or get “better ROI on marketing campaigns” without asking what they need to do prior to CRM getting implemented. Too often companies see CRM as a solution, one that once in place, starts producing results.
I took a moment to collect my thoughts and based upon my experience said that there were 4 important items to address before evaluating any packages and undertaking a CRM project.
- The first, and most obvious, is to understand what you hope to accomplish with CRM. What is the reason for investing in CRM? Without a real good understanding on how you expect CRM to help your organization, you will fail. Have well defined outcomes for the project. Is it increased sales, and if so, how do you expect CRM to help? Understand your core sales and marketing processes and look for areas where CRM can enable process improvements. Make sure that you document the expected outcomes.
- Get an executive sponsor. IT should not be the driver for any CRM project. The sponsor needs to come from the business community. You need someone who can clearly articulate to the user community, vendors, IT and other executives why the company is investing in CRM. There has to be a real belief that CRM will work and skin in the game from the user community.
- Pull together a proof of concept team to validate your expectations and review possible solutions. Get them to really own the project. They will be your champions and power users, get them involved early.
- Think about what will be critical to gain user adoption. Is it mobile usage? Is it reports or dashboards? Is it integration with Sales Order or ERP applications? Document what needs to be in place for the project to be adopted by your user community. Do this BEFORE choosing a technology. When doing this, think about carrots and sticks. What are you going to give people that makes them more successful, features that encourage them to embrace the technology - carrots. Combine that with consequences to address non compliance. I had one client who did not give commissions to sales that were not tracked in CRM. That’s a big stick.
At the end of our conversation, the prospect made an interesting comment, he asked “What do you think young college hires expect from us when they join us in sales?” Well, having interviewed many sales people over the past few years, I know that good sales people, not just young ones, expect a CRM application to assist them in organizing their pursuits. No longer is it a nice to have, it is expected. If you are going to compete for the best and brightest in sales, you need to have a capable CRM application that will help them sell.
All in all, I am excited to see that Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is right around the corner and even more excited when I hear companies asking the tough questions early on in their journey to CRM success!
By: Mike Nafziger, RSM -