Posts Tagged ‘customer relationship management’
One of the questions that a lot of mine customers ask has to do with when is the right time to purchase a CRM product. I think that answer is simple in that you need one the day you open your business.
Maybe you don’t need to have a full fledged Salesforce.com but you definitely something to capture data on your customer base. Many retail clients end up purchasing a comprehensive POS system to help them manage their business which also includes a robust CRM app. Others, such as consultants, may start off using spreadsheets or their contact manager in their email program. Regardless of what you use it is important to get something to help you get the most of your data.
So to start off look at many of the freely available CRM’s to help get your business off the ground and going. There are many options so make sure that you do your due diligence to get things in order.
I’ve always been involved with a lot of CRM projects but I’m starting to see a lot of change in the SMB area where our clients are beginning to adopt CRM products but interestingly enough it’s not the usual names that we talk about. The “one CRM fits all” model is starting to die off I believe. I think that CRM vendors that target specific verticals will become the winners in the future.
As CRM consultants we typically have one rule:
Never fit your business into a software’s process, make the software fit YOUR process
Easy enough? It is very much so. Packages such as Salesforce.com, Pivotal, Siebel to name a few allow you to do this quite easily. Lower cost products such as Highrise and Tactile force you to adopt their processes, which for a lot of people isn’t a bad thing. But let’s talk about a couple of real life scenario’s.
Your Neighbourhood Flooring Store
To protect the innocent I won’t specify names but I will talk about some success you can have with a vertical specific system. We had some challenges with the software vendor implementing their product but overall they are on the right track once they kill some of the problems with their software. The main problems with their software is that they are obsessed with AJAX technology that it slows down a browser dramatically. Anyways that’s another topic for another day.
Their system is wonderful other than the slowness. The product itself is everything a flooring company would ever need, in fact it probably should since they designed it for flooring companies. It gives you scheduling to book appointments to install floors, allows for quotations and invoicing while also providing a comprehensive product catalogue.
This is cool. Not only can you track prospects and clients in the system but now you can instantly convert them through your processes.
The Local Car Dealership
Once again, to protect the innocent. A leasing company I had worked with in the past purchased a comprehensive auto dealer program which gave them everything they needed as a car leasing company. They could track inventory, depreciation of inventory, leased vehicle payments and buyouts as well as a whole quoting system to provide information to their prospective clients on their expected payments.
Again, this system was built specifically for the industry but gave everybody from the reception to the used car sales man up to the CEO a powerful tool that gave them a holistic view on their business and customers.
The trends will continue but the way I see it is if you are in the market for a CRM take a look around for a product that has been built for you, as in your industry. If they don’t exist today they are probably well underway in development.
I talked to a lot of people on a regular basis about their customers and their businesses in general. One of the things that I notice most is that people are not realizing the opportunity that they have available to them in terms of the information that they have on their customers. A lot of people’s reactions to “using customer data” for their business scares them a bit because their thinking that it is intrusive.
I’m here to tell you that it isn’t! Using this information, with your customers consent, allows you to better serve your customers. How about a birthday card? Maybe an anniversary card? It can be anything that you want. You have this data and if you don’t have all of it then you can simply ask.
Data is so important today and I once heard from another business owner who is in the mode of acquiring other businesses how he is looking for businesses that have strong databases. He puts the value of a database very high because of the impact that it has on how a business operates.
We had a really creative review of Mobile CRM’s last week but now we’re going to get back to basics. Let’s capture information on our customers through the following mechanisms:
- Phone Calls
- Emails Requesting Updated Info
- Existing Sales Information (what patterns can you find?)
You can look all around to find some important information kicking around. What data do you have available at your finger tips?
Well that was a lot of fun doing a parade through 4 of the more well known mobile CRM products out there. It gave me a chance to mess around a bit more with these products than I have in the past. Up until this past week I never really took the time to go through these Apps but now that I have I will admit I am a bit disappointed. I really did expect more from all of them only because of the performance of tools I use on the web.
Highrise, Tactile and vTiger all seem to be trying to replace existing functionality. As Paul commented on the Tactile CRM, his source has told him to expect a lot more and I think that’s exactly what we need coming our way. Salesforce certainly has all of the features but again the problem is cost and always will be. Although Salesforce attempts to show themselves as small business friendly at the end of the day they are geared towards the larger market.
vTiger, as is the same with the open source web version, is a bit of a pain to setup for the average user. But that’s what you get with open source unless you pull in a programmer type to help you out.
Highrise is also on the same path as Tactile in delivering more powerful features and I would presume you can look forward to those soon.
But at the end of the day, even though it’s expensive, Salesforce is the standard as of right now. It boasts all of the features you’d hope for on a mobile CRM and it really empowers your sales team to make business decisions properly and deliver information to customers.
I know that I can go a whole day on my iPhone without having to touch a laptop when it comes to surfing Internet and checking email. The same goes for managing my sales pipeline, I want it in the palm of my hand.
We’ll have to revisit these Apps again in a few months to see where things have gone.
This was a lot of fun this week and we’ll have to come up with something else creative to do next week.
Have a great weekend!
Well for this weeks quadruple reviews of Mobile CRM apps we are now left with Salesforce.com. This has a ton of pluses unfortunately it also has a lot of negatives that I am going to get into. Salesforce is known as the king of cloud CRM and rightfully so as they were the first to really pioneer this service about a decade ago and now we are seeing a wide adoption of the product.
- Much More
Salesforce is by far the most complete Mobile CRM of the 4 editions that we reviewed this past week. The concepts of Salesforce Mobile is simply built around the Accounts and beneath that account is a series of contacts, leads, relationships, activities…etc. It is structured quite well and the way you’d expect from a web-based CRM product.
The Dashboards I absolutely love. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sold CRM products based on the Dashboards features. Salesforce has an incredible Dashboard utility that borrows directly from it’s web-based counterpart. It’s absolutely easy to use and provides the vital information you’d need on the sales.
As I’ve harped on all week about other products, Salesforce delivers the goods to track everything including opportunities. This is crucial I think for any CRM product.
Now the bad news. It’s expensive. Although they offer single user editions I’ve always found Salesforce to be expensive especially when the minimum requirement for users is typically 5 for any of the editions (except for the single user). So you’re looking at several hundreds of dollars to get in on this action but hey, if you can find the ROI is appropriate for you by using this product then why not.
Salesforce is by far the best of the 4 that I’ve looked at this week and I can tell you that many of the other products will continue to evolve and grow which should begin to compete with the features of Salesforce.
Tomorrow is the round up as we do a quick summary of the week.
For our third review we’re going to look over Tactile CRM’s offering for the iPhone. Appropriately and to help make sure nobody gets misled they have named the product: Tactile CRM Activities. I have to admit, in comparison to both vTiger and Highrise, this App gets it.
Why? Well they didn’t duplicate the contact list and they didn’t duplicate the calendar. They brought in the crucial part which is activities. Although I don’t have my sales portion built into this App, I still like how they didn’t try to be something more than they should.
So here we go with probably the simplest of the 4 iPhone App’s that I’ve decided to review. Tactile CRM is a great solution that provides an iPhone App that is built around the Activities tab of Tactile CRM. When setting up your iPhone all you need to do is access the admin section of your Tactile CRM instance and enable API Tokens or External Data. Once you’ve done this all you need to do is take that API Token key and punch it into your iPhone. I found the easiest way to do this was to copy and paste it into an email to myself which showed up on my iPhone. From there I copied and pasted it back into the iPhone App.
Now, if you’re expecting this app to give you any sales information you’re going to be out of luck. This is strictly a to do list and event listing app. In fact this is why Tactile made the smart move to call the App “Activities”. It does what it’s supposed to do and it isn’t over the top.
There is a lot of room for improvement with this App and I think that you will see Tactile continually evolve the App to the point where people can do sales tools.
Overall, great for activities but as a CRM component it simply isn’t a CRM product without using the web interface through a browser.
Finally, tomorrow we will go over the expensive and king of the land when it comes to enterprise cloud CRM in Salesforce.com.
You know we always have to start somewhere. Whether it is hundreds of business cards stacked inside a 3-ringed binder or a spreadsheet detailing all of the data we have on our customers. Are you one of those that are still using spreadsheets to have a grasp on your customers? If you are, you’re probably not alone as I would suggest that most business people find themselves stuck trying to find the most appropriate system to manage their data.
So how do you ditch the spreadsheets?
Well, here’s the good news. You’ve already got your data inside a spreadsheet so all you need to do is import that data into any system. You can try a lot of the following CRM apps and simply “test” out your data with their systems to see if it works:
That’s to name a few but it will allow you to see which interface and application works best for you. Obviously I’m a bit biased towards Eligeo CRM but I’m also of the thought that everybody has their own preference. This is why I encourage everybody to test out the waters.
So here you go. A check list to help you test things out.
- Subscribe to a list of CRM providers such as the one’s above
- Test out their import capabilities and import your entire spreadsheet into their CRM
- Check out your data and see how you can use it within their application
- Voila! Now decide on the CRM that works best for you.
Wow. If only it were that easy hey? Four steps to pick a CRM? I’ve consulted with organizations with thousands and thousands and employees and if I could implement CRM in 4-steps I would officially be crowned CRM king. Now, if you’re a small business owner then these 4 steps may work for you. If you’re simply experimenting and looking for something that might work for you then give it a try. There are ton’s of options out there for anybody to get started on CRM but it will be a simple step to get started and start exploring.
If you’re looking for a CRM professional then I’d be glad to talk to you about some ideas. Although we have our own CRM product at Eligeo keep in mind it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve even recommended other products to our customers simply because you need the right tool to do the right job.
Stay tuned for Monday as we dive into my reviews of mobile CRM apps starting with Highrise. Have a great weekend.
There sure is a lot of chatter about social media going into CRM. There’s a post on LinkedIn that I’ve been following the Social Relationship Management & Social CRM SCRM CEM SRM group on there and the question of course is the usual:
Define Social CRM for me please!
So naturally I gave my two cents and saw a lot of other great feedback from everyone on there. Here are a few comments:
Des Walsh said “Just as some of us distinguish, with social media, the social tools and the social culture of engagement, I see Social CRM as signifying both a) a continuing process of integration and, where necessary and feasible, adaptation of the various social media tools in an existing or new CRM software (ht Derek) and b) a culture of ongoing permission marketing (ht Seth Godin) with engaged, “nothing is a problem we can’t handle” ongoing customer care. Tall order, but worth working at. ”
Domenico Greco said “I agree with Derek, I’m just now developing a project on my CRM System to upgrade it with some tools able to track data and information from the SN and to integrate them with the process and customer information of the CRM. As well,in the opposite direction, some action or event based on the CRM System will be posted and shared in the SN. One of the first aim is to support the sales force in relationship selling and the MKTG Department to optimize targets and results. ”
So what is the answer? Well we haven’t been able to settle on something but I still like to think of it as the integration of social media into CRM.
So what steps can we do to do this? Remember, CRM is all about data and info on your prospects, customers and partners. So the question really is how do we get that data into your CRM? I would love to be able to take a peak at John Doe customer and see his recent threads and communication on the Internet whether it be Twitter or any other social media platform. We first saw this concept with the inclusion of Google News into CRM’s a few years back where an Account/Client/Business would display a list of recent news articles pertaining to that account.
I know we’re looking at ways to integrate social media into Eligeo CRM. We’re not trying to re-define CRM, we’re trying to include the pertinent resources available to us into our customers CRM tools.