We grew up on proverbs and one of the most enduring ones happens to be: “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing”.
But, step back a little- would you agree that a little knowledge is still better than no knowledge at all? Especially when it comes to customers. If in doubt, ask the telemarketer who gets a sheet of paper in the morning with 100 names and phone numbers to call by the evening and no other information. How on earth does she structure her call? More information about the persons she is calling would allow he to customize the message for specific audiences- and convert more to a customer from a prospect.
The trouble is- the information continuum from “no-knowledge” to “everything that there is to know” is not treated as such but more like a binary system. This is even more accentuated depending on the perspective of the person you talk to- in sales or in marketing.
Marketing wants perfect information- sales does as well- but, in most cases customer information is obtained only from the sales team. So, faced with the task of populating all the information fields in the “contact profile” or “account profile” screens- sales does the easiest thing possible- simply refuse. This is surely not ideal. In all my experience designing, deploying, customizing and using CRM systems- I have seen the biggest issue is always getting the sales team to see value in using the CRM systems.
It is my experience that as the familiarity and usage increases, you can choose to increase the amount of information capture.
So, I have 3 simple rules for introducing CRM in your organization:
1. Keep it simple- less is actually better- when it comes to customer information. Not only is profile data “outdated” virtually the moment you input it, it is always inconsistently captured. So, some profiles may have department filled up but not designation and some may have designation but not department. And, activity data is always better than static profile data- it allows you to, over time draw up a far better profile than simple static profile. Other good thing is that activity profiles captures can be automated to a large extent.
2. Have a clear use model for the information you are capturing- if you do not intend to use the customer’s age group in any marketing activity- do not capture it. No use, none whatsoever.
3. Opt for pre-defined workflows rather than flexibility. I know this is contra-intuitive but let me explain this. When you are in the early stages of any process implementation, it is an opportunity to often learn from what works outside rather than something that has so far been working for you. After all, if your existing processes were serving you fine, you would not have been wanting to implement a CRM system, would you?
… 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!
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.