Back to the Future of CRM - Part 3 of 4

By Enabliser Howard

This continues a discussion about CRM projects which were successful and the lessons we can draw. It is based on a Harvard Business Review article from 2004. Based on our experience at Enabling with implementing CRM projects these insights apply equally well today – thus Back to the Future of CRM.

In Part 1, we looked at the project starting small and focused, rather than trying to save the world, and four strategic questions to ask. In Part 2, we looked at focusing on the big picture, the strategic issues. We now continue on this subject, the second of four strategic questions to consider.

Where does it hurt? Low hanging fruit

CRM can manage the entire sales cycle at once - purchase, after sales service, subsequent purchases and recommendations. It is usually a bad idea to start like this. It creates unused technology, disrupts a business unnecessarily, and probably fails the payback test. When examining customer relationships, there are usually deep seated, pernicious problems in a few areas which undermine performance. These pain points should be the focus, the low hanging fruit. You can add more later.

Focusing on pain is not only an effective way to build a successful CRM, it can also revive a failing one.

At a motorised golf cart manufacturer, sales were drifting down as a downturn hit. Management lacked the information to diagnose the reasons. Managers and reps had their own ideas. Forecasts were informal, using guesswork. Management realised more information was needed, so rolled out a large CRM implementation, from lead evaluation, proposals and order entry. It was too much to achieve all at once. After more than $2m spent, management were not convinced about benefits, productivity gains were not apparent. In fact the reps now had more to do. The project was stopped and focused on two pain areas: forecasting sales and taking orders. After two years on CRM MkII, customer service and decisions making were "significantly improved." By involving the sales staff in redesigning the system, keeping it lean and simple, many of the original CRM system's drawbacks were eliminated. Reps were able to configure and place orders at the customer’s premises, and for the first time, see the financial implications of different configurations. The company's own order information was combined with economic data to generate reliable forecasts, leading to better manufacturing schedules.

As we saw in an earlier discussion with the wholesale distributor, this manufacturer implemented fairly standard CRM. For Enabling, our experience is that it is not hard to achieve.

Reference: DK Rigby, GD Ledingham, CRM Done Right. Harvard Business Review, November 2004

This discussion on Back to the Future of CRM will be continued.

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