It’s Christmas morning. The snow falls gently outside and the warmth of the fire as it crackles is the only sound to be heard. You smile to yourself as you think about the day of excitement, jubelation and merriment. This is the eye before the storm. Then all chaos erupts. Children running into your bedroom yelling at the top of their lungs (at 5 AM) that it’s Christmas and it’s time to open presents and everyone should get up and be as awake and excited as they are. You slog downstairs, still a bit groggy from the peaceful dream that was silence just moments before to see that a lamp has been shattered, half the presents are open, and your 3 year old is playing in a box…..with the fancy toy that came in it sitting to the side untouched. Merry Christmas.
You are the
head CEO of the family, the fancy toy you bought your children is the CRM that remains untouched by your children employees. Quite likely you’ve spent a significant amount of money on licenses and services under the thought that this was your cure to stagnant sales. This was going to make you look like a rock star to investors within the year. And yet, it hasn’t. Getting reps to enter data into the CRM when they’d rather be selling has proven to be difficult. Quality of the data that is entered is less than stellar and ultimately sales velocity hasn’t increased, deal sizes are the same, sales are flat and costs are up. In other words, you look more like the struggling artist playing covers and less like the mega rock star with adoring fans. Why? Is a CRM a bad investment for your organization or a poor strategic initiative? Is your sales organization unengaged and just not willing to move forward with new technology? Is your CIO irked by you pushing a new software on them when they feel it should have been their decision?
At the end of the day a CRM is just a source of record, much like an ERP or a SCM. It’s a place to collect data within a given domain, in this case sales, to then utilize in other applications. Rarely is a source of record complete enough to be both the collection tool and the output tool. You’ll need something more within the technology ecosystem to leverage the data to it’s maximum value. With the ever expanding product to product connectivity going on, the ability to create new insight from disparate sources of information has become significantly easier, the need to have a “do everything” platform should be less of a driving factor for CIOs and finding a “connect to everything” platform becomes of greater strategic importance from a scalability and longevity standpoint. By having a “connect to everything” platform organizational optimization and leverage can be created in two key areas that we’ll discuss at greater length:
- Cost optimization
While your source of record might be a large enterprise product, the ancillary ecosystem doesn’t necessarily need to be. Why buy the enterprise version of X, Y, or Z when a third party tool is able to connect to the enterprise source of record, do all that X, Y, or Z can (and probably more) for a third the cost? While it appears to be a no-brainer to choose a viable if not better tool-set for a lower cost, certain considerations must be considered. Decisions to bring in new tools made recklessly will result in a reverse effect of increasing costs by creating a multitude of redundancy in toolset. Does an organization really need 5 different tools that do 80% of the same thing? Probably not.
There a multitude of questions you could ask to determine whether or not a new tool is appropriate and you could always go through some long RFP process where you eventually get a tool you kind of like at a price higher than you wanted to pay 6 months after you really needed it (a too complex buying cycle can hurt the buyer just as much as a too simple one) but before bringing in a new tool ask yourself these three simple questions:
- What are my top three things this tool is solving?
- Do I have any other tools that can do at least 2 of those things?
- Does the benefits of that remaining thing outweigh the cost of the new tool?
Going through this cost/benefit analysis will ultimately help you answer the question “which tool is right for me?” It may be that the expensive enterprise addition is the way to go though there are significant cost effective 3rd parties that are truly driving innovation in the market place. It’s one reason why many large enterprise software products have to address their growth via mergers and acquisitions instead of building in-house.
If you buy something like a BMW 3 series convertible you end up (in most cases) sticking with parts made/supported by BMW. CRM’s can be the same way though they don’t necessarily have to be. Choosing a CRM that has a flexible ecosystem of 3rd party applications can be an amazing advantage. The more plug and play your CRM is with other applications, the more capabilities and flexibility you bring to the table to service the business and end users. Open API’s, app exchanges and ease of integration are all good indicators of a flexible ecosystem. By leveraging this ecosystem you provide your organization a buffer in the case of a scenario where the decision to move away from the original source of record is made it may be possible to minimize the effect this has on end users.
This type of flexibility of tool drives flexibility of talent management. With user experience becoming a more prevalent market factor, expect enterprise tools to be easier to use and require fewer ‘experts’ to support them. This brings about the benefit of being able to hire people that solve business issues instead of simply having technical mastery of a tool or possibly having a better blend allowing for greater operational agility.
In the next part of the series we’ll discuss the types of tools that enable a CRM environment and ultimately determine the strategic approach to getting the most value out of your tool and ensuring that it isn’t just the shiny new toy discarded on Christmas day. The roadmap to CRM maturity where user behavior, capacity and capability meet leading to a culture of hyper-performance.