New marketing demystified for Indian SMEs

Archive for the tag “CRM for small business”

The CRM customization industry

… sigh! Here I go again!

As a CRM user in India, after paying out anything from Rs 3000/- pm to Rs 12,000/- pm (these are per user prices, guys), you would expect to be productive from day one. The truth is no; you will not be. Since you have bought a CRM solution that can work for the big guys and the small, the retailer and the reseller, the pharmacist as well as the medical rep, you will realise that it actually works for none. Till you customize, that is. And, that is where the CRM customization industry comes in.

Spectacular as the growth of the SAAS based CRM market has been, the growth of the CRM customization industry has been even more spectacular. Virtually every vendor in the vast hinterland of the IT outsourcing landscape has a “CRM practice”; which basically means they customize Sage or Sugar or Salesforce for you. Modify the field-names, change the order in which they appear, add some custom reports, add the logo and hey presto, you have your own CRM tool.

This costs money. But, more than that, this takes time.

My advice, and this is only to the SMEs, is avoid customization as much as possible.

And if you have to, focus on those that reduce the clutter on the screen rather than add to the capabilities. Believe me, more capabilities now often mean more work to be done daily by your salesmen, your marketing executives and marcom professionals to add to the “profile information”, logging interactions and following “workflows” and “scripts” that lost their relevance almost as soon as they were written.

There are literally hundreds of CRM softwares existing in the world. Shouldn’t there be at least one which meets your current needs and some? Buy something  written for your market segment and your locale in mind.

Salesgenie CRM ++ is designed for the needs of the SME segment of the market focused selling B2B. Can it handle B2C? Well, no! Will that mean, we will not address those selling soap or tissue-paper? No, we will not! Will we lose business? Well, it was not our business to start with!
We are for Small to Medium sized businesses,  in India, whose sales model is B2B. If that means we do not “do it all”, so be it. We at least do not claim customization will fix this!


Launching Anwesha CRM

The last couple of months have been hectic; however, this month promises to be worse 🙂

Finally gave enough shape to the Anwesha website to be able to launch it. The primary focus of Anwesha Customer Relations Marketing Pvt Ltd, Anwesha CRM for short, is to offer the tools and processes that an SME needs in India in sales and marketing; the very same tools that the MNCs use to be successful.

I will continue blogging here. However, you can also catch me blogging on the Anwesha company blog. My focus here will not change; it will continue to be on CRM for small business.

The next month will be focused on the launch preparations for our flagship CRM product for the Indian market called Salesgenie CRM++. We are positioning this as the “Essential Salesforce” minus the frills. So, all you need to log customer interactions, initiate engagements, campaigns and manage them are there. As are the sales processes like recognising a lead or a deal, qualifying them through the sales cycle and closing.

Salesgenie CRM++ has real innovations like recognizing a real lead automatically based on pre-defined criteria (set by you). This is like a magnet picking out iron filings from dust and will be a real boon to harried sales managers and executives wanting to prioritize their sales efforts.

Salesgenie CRM++ allows you to send customized e-mails for invites, newsletters and such right from the tool.
Salesgenie CRM++ allows you to configure quotes, complete with taxes, discounts etc and send them off on email as a pdf.
Salesgenie CRM++  has smart selection tool for targeting customers for marketing campaigns or sales promotions. The intelligence built in the tool is directly proportional to the ease of use.
Salesgenie CRM++ has lead scoring and prioritization algorithm built-in which allows you to prioritize the sales leads for follow-up.
Salesgenie CRM++  has easy to use reporting built right into it.

And, to top it all, it is easily customizable, often by the user herself.

All the above makes it the most comprehensive sales and marketing management software for the SME sector in India. And, this is important- the MNC price-tags and the heavy process overheads and ramp-up- are absent.

Thank you for your support.

CRM for whom?

Get customers first.  Investment in CRM systems can follow.

CRM softwares are great “farming” tools. The deeper your engagements are till date, the more insights you have in his needs.

Among engagements, the best ones to base your judgement on are the paid ones. So, a customer may have attended seminars and responded to emails and asked for quotes. But, the only time she has actually backed her actions with money is when she has paid money for goods and services. As the electorates vote with their finger on the button, customers vote with their money.

When we target customers for our marketing messages, we tend to rely on profile based targeting. That is, we use information related to her department, seniority, industry, size of the company and so on to tailor messages for her. While this will continue to be used, the need is to make far greater use of behavioral data (related to actions the customer may have taken in the past) to target her. Actions speak louder than words. And, among actions, as I said earlier, actual purchase in the past  is a great validation of what her profile or other behavioral history is leading us to believe.

CRM systems are only as good as the data you log about the customers: their profiles and behaviors and engagements in the past. Their true power is the ability to harness the past data to build compelling marketing campaigns for the installed base. So, couple your investment in CRM systems with robust processes for logging customer interactions and keep the profiles updated. And, ensure you have a sound analytics and reporting engine coupled with your CRM to drive action based on all that data.

The tyranny of choice in CRM configuration

If you are in the market for a CRM solution, you will ignore at your own peril. has an awesome product; flexible, customizable for many uses and markets. Salesforce has a plethora of add-ons you can pick from their partners (Appexchange); to enhance the product functionalities.

Salesforce changed the way we think of buying and using enterprise software, particularly sales and marketing automation products; all others who have followed Salesforce in that space have been largely following the same model of configuring and pricing their solutions. You pick what you need and pay as you go; what can be better than that?

I am not so sure the actual experience will match the expectation though; especially if you are a relatively small business with less than 20 sales/ marketing users. You see, most small businesses are, well, small. You are assuming that a surfeit of choices in the configurations, menu customizations, add-ons, license-choices etc work to their advantage. Nothing can be farther from the truth. I looked through the list of features from a few leading CRM vendors and I am sorry to say, I could not understand the relevance of many of the specs in a small business environment. See Sugar, Salesforce and Zoho. All the SAAS CRM offerings seem like the small business focus is an afterthought; so, the tendency to over-profile, over-log (have a workflow for everything) and offer an abundance of choices for customization.
What an SME or its employees want is to focus outside and not spend a substantial amount of time on logging the daily grind everyday. None of the CRM systems I have looked at, offers a respite from this workflow induced drudgery.

Let me use primarily Salesforce as an example of how the configuration and pricing works in the SAAS based CRM landscape.

An entry level package is offered for virtually no price at all (Salesforce offers one for USD 5 per user licence per month) with little better functionality than Outlook contact manager. Okay so, it is cheap. It is not apparent to me, however, if it does anything useful.
This is available for 1-2 users; more than that and you need to move to a higher priced license, costs 25 USD per user per month but will not add much to functionality except integrate with a webform for lead capture, tracking sales opportunities and running sales reports. Upto 5 users only. Hmm..
You want to add email marketing and a facility to send unlimited emails and remove restrictions on the number of users? No problems. There is a package at 65 USD per user per month. This also does Campaign Management (though, this seems to be a limited time promotion valid till 31st Dec, 2009).

Let’s not worry so much about the Enterprise (USD 125 per user per month) and Unlimited editions of Salesforce (250USD per user per month) as I do not expect small businesses to be interested.

Now, each of the above packages come with severe storage limits. When you pay USD 65  (Rs 3200/ approximately) per user per month; you are allowed only 20MB of usage space per user. Pay more to upgrade storage as your contact bases increase. How does your storage needs increase? Everytime you use a CRM system, you store details of the transaction including, call logs, literature, quotes.

And, what do you get for the money? Confusion. A list of features you are never going to use; a bunch of workflows which will ensure that you spend all your day on the software rather than meeeting customers and getting the job done. Bah!

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