Archives For CRM Success

In the first post in this CRM Adoption Curve series, we discussed the challenges companies encounter before investing in their CRM processes and tools.  In the second post, we covered the benefits of centralizing your customer information into one system and defining repeatable processes for interacting with your customers.  The next stage in adopting your CRM strategy and driving company growth is  “Step 3: the Defined Stage”.  This is where your hard work really starts paying off.

At this stage, the customer-centric processes that you began defining in the Managed Stage are now battle-tested and you are ready to automate them via Sugar Workflow.  Leads are automatically passed to the right sales person.  Stalled inquiries are automatically identified for management review.  Hand-offs across teams are tracked and audited so that you never lose track of your customer when moving that customer from one department to another.  Your CRM professionals are collaborating within, and across, teams because they now have access to the same data.  Management has clear visibility into the processes via well-defined Sugar Reports and has begun predicting future success with accuracy.  Your company is more responsive than ever to prospects and customers and your customer acquisition and retention rates have grown.

Keep in mind, it can easily take six to twelve months to move from the Managed Stage to the Defined Stage.  Progress doesn’t just magically happen.  It takes focus and dedication.  This is where the vast network of local SugarCRM implementation partners can make a big impact on your CRM adoption success and help you accelerate your customer growth plans.

In the next post, we will describe what happens when you move from the Defined Stage to “Step 4: the Optimized Stage“.

In the last post, we explored where every company starts with their CRM efforts.  The first step, the “Manual Stage”, is typically defined by customer data locked up in spreadsheets, misplaced emails, uncertain next steps and all too often, unhappy customers.  You’re ready to pull yourself out of the chaos and get your company organized.

This is where you turn to SugarCRM and move to the second stage, “Step 2: the Managed Stage”.  After first implementing Sugar Professional, your company has taken a huge step out of the chaos and put all of your customer data into a single, managed system of record for customer information. This is the single biggest value you will realize with your first step up the CRM Adoption Curve.  Everybody now knows where to go to get customer data.  Tasks are tracked.  Emails are quickly shared.  Notes are no longer lost.

With this single view of your customer data, you are now able to start defining repeatable customer interaction processes and start training your people on a common approach to working with prospects and customers.  Your CRM processes are maturing, though many are still manual – which is OK.  Repeatable processes will lead to better automation in the next stage, even if everything is not integrated right now.

But there are still gaps in your CRM success.  You have identified customer-centric goals (e.g. responding to prospect inquiries within one hour, following up on every quote within two business days, keeping your support case backlog under a certain threshold), but measuring progress isn’t always complete or accurate.  Some of your teams are hitting their objectives, but not consistently.  You are better at being responsive to customers than in the Manual Stage, but manual process are still inconsistently executed at times.  In short, you are beginning to chart a course towards CRM success but you still have work ahead of you.

Every SugarCRM customer quickly achieves this stage.  The challenge is to not stop here.  In the next post, we will describe what happens when you move from the Managed Stage to “Step 3: the Defined Stage“.

You’re ready to focus on creating more customers for your company. But before you can set your sights on where you want to go, you have to first identify where you are at.  To help you understand where you are at today and where you are going tomorrow, I’d like to tell you about the four stages of the CRM Adoption Curve.  This is a very useful model for understanding the evolution of your CRM practices and the challenges you are looking to overcome.

Since there are four stages, I will break this description of the CRM Adoption Curve into four posts.  In this  post, we are going to look at the first stage which is what we call “Step 1: the Manual Stage”.  Many people would probably rather call this the “Chaos Stage”.  This is where every company starts.  You likely know it well.

Your sales, marketing and customer support teams are just getting started and are doing whatever it takes to just get the job done, no matter what.  You likely find that every employee approaches the job in a different way with no standardized processes or training program in place.  Is your customer data trapped in email and spreadsheets on each person’s desktop?  Are customer communications falling through the cracks with lost emails and misplaced post-it notes?  As a result, is your management challenged with poor visibility into what is going on with customers?

Spreadsheets, no basic training, little consistency, success through the efforts of a few heroes.  Sound familiar?  This usually leads to a lot of effort spent on scrambling around, but no clear path to measurable success, little confidence in hitting goals, and a lot of unhappy customers. This is where companies like yours first turn to SugarCRM for help.

In the next installment in this CRM Adoption Curve series, we will explore the “Step 2: the Managed Stage” as you work your way up the CRM Adoption Curve.

Why does a company exist?

Clint Oram —  August 5, 2010 — 1 Comment

I admit it. I love building CRM applications.  It may sound goofy, but everybody has a passion.  Software is in my DNA.  And I find the CRM software category particularly rewarding because CRM applications have such a dramatic impact on driving the top line growth of companies.  That’s what I love to do…build great apps that help build great companies.  But is that what the company SugarCRM is all about?  Is that why SugarCRM exists?  To build great software applications?  Let’s explore that idea.

As you’re thinking about growing your company and how a CRM application can help you do that, I’d like to share a simple tenet that will put you on the path to success.

It’s all about your customers.

Sounds simple, right?  But let me ask you, where do your customers fit into your company strategy?  Yes, many people immediately say their customers are at the center of their company strategy. But really, do you and every employee in your company put the customer at the center of your focus every day?

Several years back, I had the opportunity to listen to Gerhard Gschwandtner, publisher of Selling Power magazine, talk about how CRM systems help drive sales for a company.  Gerhard is a very smart man who knows a lot about the art and science of selling.  When he started the discussion about why CRM is important, he started by posing the question to the audience, “What is the purpose of a company?”  We heard answers like “to create products” and “to make a lot of money” and “to create jobs for employees.”

Those were all the first answers that certainly came to my mind also.  After all, I enjoy building CRM products.  I enjoy making money.  I enjoy creating jobs.  That’s why I’m in business, right?  But as Gerhard pointed out, what you sell, how you make money and who you employ are byproducts of the true purpose of a company.

As Gerhard rightly said, companies exist to create customers.  It’s that simple. Without customers, companies don’t exist.  If a company listens to its customers, it will create the right products.  If a company listens to its customers, it will market and sell those products to its customers.  If a company listens to its customers, delivers the right products and markets and sells those products well, it will then make a lot of money.  And if the company is doing all that, then its certainly employing people.  So, the purpose of a company is simply to create customers…happy customers, new customers, many customers.

I bet you’re saying right now, “Wow, that’s a different way of looking at my business.”  You bet it is.  It’s all about putting the customer at the center of your thinking. However after decades of books, seminars, webinars, panels, white papers and countless hours of discourse dedicated to this topic, many companies still struggle with how to put the customer at the center of their business planning.

It’s this core concept, the purpose of a company is to create customers, which I’m going to use as the launchpad for a series of posts focused on CRM Success.  The next installment in this series will describe your roadmap for CRM Success…where you are at, where you are going and how you get there (spoiler alert!  SugarCRM is a big part of how you get there.)

–Clint