CRM is a commonly used, often satirized and misunderstood acronym in the enterprise front office. I have worked with CRM solutions for over 20 years and have heard these three letters represent ‘Costs Ridiculous Money', 'Can’t Remember Much', 'Customer Relationship Marketing', 'Contact Relationship Management’ and ‘Customer Relationship Management.' Clearly, CRM means different things to different people.
Sales teams typically think of CRM as an account and contact solution. Marketing tends to think it’s a campaign, lead or loyalty solution. I discovered users often consider CRM to be a ‘Big Brother surveillance tool - a way to collect tribal knowledge and reduce headcount, or an admin tool that provides no value to them. With all the different opinions of CRM, it’s no surprise companies have struggled to embrace the true value of a CRM solution.
This has been the case since the early 1990s. Like many organizations, my employer at the time tried multiple CRM solutions such as ACT!, Goldmine and Telemagic to gain a competitive edge. Upper management was convinced CRM would be the secret sauce that would provide valuable insight to our company. But, those same systems withheld insights from users. Due to that lack of transparency, absence of top-down evangelism and half-hearted investment in effective training, user adoption suffered.
Fast-forward a decade to where the user-experience became a focus in the world of CRM. Vast, partner ecosystems were bolted on to enhance front-office functionality, such as incentive compensation, configure-to-order, and territory management. Although user adoption improved, this also produced duplicate, inaccurate, and siloed data from lack of integrations, reducing the credibility of business insights extracted from these systems. Does any of this sound familiar? If this is your company today, how do you reverse this stigma and begin to fix your CRM solution?
CRM solutions are no longer an exclusive “account and contact” or “lead and opportunity” management tool. They have skyrocketed in capabilities, become a system of record, and continue to evolve to where CRMs are a lifeline to front office and back office.
One organization I worked with realized that their multiple sales systems, siloed data and lack of collaboration across teams were creating bad customer experiences. However, they were able to transform their business using applications built on a unified data model with consistent user experiences. These allowed them to leverage data across the entire customer lifecycle from their back office to front office and with their partners. They’ve also increased sales force adoption and productivity, enhanced account planning and collaboration across teams who now have real time insights that help them make smarter decisions at every step. They can leverage this data across to easily up-sell or cross-sell into existing customers. They can do all of this anywhere, anytime, from any device.
Companies can use CRM to align sales, marketing and service teams around creating great sales and customer experiences like never before. Together, they can create complete accounts and contacts helping each team be more personalized and engaged during the customer journey. Marketing can create targeted campaigns. Sales teams have more intelligent data to help them have more relevant conversations with their customers. Service has access to details to make the customer feel more like a human than a number. The unified sales, marketing and service model improves their productivity by sharing the same information leaving the customer with a personalized experience at every step in their customer lifecycle.
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