Monday, July 24, 2006

CRM - The Frontier Less Traveled


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CRM should be a no-brainer. That is, it should be highly evident, to even the most doubting of all Thomases, that being able to display the following information is not only helpful, but necessary: All the pertinent information about a client or customer Details of all prior conversations with anyone, at any location and at any time Quotes Orders Issues Problems Promises Appointments Pending History For anyone who has bothered to look, there is no shortage of companies able to provide personal, server or web based CRM applications. As a matter of fact, there are so many companies in this space it is difficult to tell most of them apart. Most have the same features, work the same way, and have similar appearances. Nearly all of them offer the most utilized features found in Microsoft Outlook like: Email Calendar Tasks. So if the importance is so obvious, the features so rich and the availability is so grand, why all the grumbling about CRM? Many companies can't get their salespeople to use it! There are a number of reasons but the most common are: Takes too much time Lousy at typing Doesn't help them sell Doesn't help them succeed Busy work They forgot Not computer savvy More difficult than their normal method Don't need it because it's all in their head I don't know about you, but from my vantage point as a sales development expert, these are all excuses. The real problem, regardless of the software, boils down to four interdependent problems: The initiative was not driven from the top down - lack of commitment The value of the tool was not understood - poor communications It was not presented as mandatory - ineffective leadership Nobody required them to use it - lack of accountability While the benefits of CRM are obvious, salespeople probably won't be able to stand up in front of an audience and say, "thanks to our new CRM application, I closed a $75,000 deal that I never would have closed otherwise." But they will likely be able to say, "thanks to our new CRM application, I was able to see that my customer had conversations with 3 customer service people yesterday so I was prepared to discuss their issues and they were very impressed with our internal communications." But if you can't get salespeople to use the application, is it worth going down that road? Yes, with two conditions. First, you must be willing to execute on the commitment, communications, leadership and accountability. Second, you must choose an application that was designed with the most reluctant users in mind - salespeople. I've seen most of the CRM applications on the market but I'm most impressed with AgileView's OneBundle, available from Objective Management Group. It does everything CRM should do but goes the extra mile for the salesperson. The first sales friendly feature is the cold calling module where salespeople can either import a list or just type in contacts - and nothing else - so they aren't required to create accounts, with endless data entry, just to make an attempted cold call. Then, each time they attempt to dial or speak with a contact, a counter is incremented simply by clicking an icon. Ingenious! When the salesperson books an appointment and clicks "convert" an account is created and only then must the salesperson enter the required account information. Navigating from one form to another is often painfully difficult and OneBundle has solved this problem too. A nifty navigation system allows users to go from entering a note on one prospect to another with only a single click. I really love how they've taken the salesperson's needs into consideration. OneBundle can integrate with Objective Management Group's SalesTrack and Qualifier applications. SalesTrack helps sales managers hold their salespeople accountable for required activity and provides coaching help based on the individual salesperson's results. Qualifier scores each opportunity prior to the quote or proposal stage to verify that the opportunity is strong enough to pursue. OneBundle also includes the Visual Pipeline, allowing management to visually see what's in the pipeline by stage as well as by team, manager, salesperson or account. In just a minutes glance, one can determine how many opportunities are in each stage as well as the value of those opportunities. Management can specify the number of stages and the names of the stages as well as the goals that each salesperson must attain each month. Reporting is the primary way that management interacts with CRM. The OneBundle has a customizable dashboard that shows the data that's most important to management and has customizable reports that any user can create with ease. Summary - I give AgileView's OneBundle a high rating for functionality, creativity and flexibility and recommend it for the company's commitment to satisfaction. You can request information on AgileView's CRM sofware here.
(c) Copyright 2006 Objective Management Group, Inc.

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