Archives For CRM Success

In the first post in this series, we made the case for better alignment between two organizational teams, in other words, we focused on the people. Your feedback suggests that we are onto something here, which should be no surprise. The fun part about alignment is that people actually need to agree (be aligned) on something, right? The smart thing to do is to be aligned around the processes required to make money (too direct?) so that everyone is clear on who is doing what (and where the customer fits as well).

Starting with Vision

(Considering CRM like a Corporate Mission)

Unfortunately, very few organizations spend the required time to define a clear CRM program. When asked, most executives admit that a well-crafted CRM program must start with a vision and a roadmap. Even still, these efforts often stall and much needed organizational synergy does not have a chance to take shape. This is, in part, is about technology. But, it is really more about defining how technology should (or should not) be used. It’s also about data (as it should be), but it is more than data. It is really about data combined with process. One without the other is like lyrics without a melody. A well-considered CRM platform will support the company vision and will play a pivotal role in determining how teams can and should work together toward engaging customers across their lifecycle.

By supporting customers through their end-to-end journey with you will increase satisfaction and long-term loyalty. This requires a focus on process. The common thread is customer experience and the customer’s perception of their own experiences (not what you think they are). In a business-to-business context, the decision cycle is a series of interactions between individuals. Each interaction results in an experience; good and bad. Good customer experiences correlate to customer loyalty. Which, of course, is the goal because loyal customers are more willing to consider another purchase from a company, are less likely to switch to a competitor, and are more likely to recommend.

Designing the Process to Support the Journey

(Thinking through the journey one interaction at a time)

Lead-to-revenue success is dependent upon well designed and executed internal processes that support the customer’s journey. Process optimization is about using technology to define efficient, nearly procedural, processes for everything from resources and campaigns to generate leads, sales methodology, and sales performance. Managing the plethora of interactions and touchpoints with customers who jump from channel-to-channel requires extra attention. Especially hard is when a customer moves from a digital channel to non-digital. This is where the salesperson needs guidance.

The front-end of the journey is the purchase decision cycle. During a business purchase decision cycle, buyers control the steps of their journey far more than the seller. This is a sea-change from times past that companies (sellers) need to carefully consider. Buyers are engaging with sellers through a multitude of digital, social, and mobile touchpoints. This dynamic changes the role of each player within your organization in a fundamental way. It alters what they must do in order to meet the needs of each buyer. To be clear, this is more than just a journey mapping exercise, this is about diving in one or two levels deeper.

Think big, Start small in Designing the Journey within your CRM Platform

When building your CRM program and considering the vision, it is important to balance two forces: 1) top line revenue growth and 2) bottom line efficiency gains. Both are critical, and the common denominators between them is business process; efficiency and effectiveness. Yes, it is possible to spend time on process improvement that will lead to both cost reduction as well as top line revenue growth, but this is hard. The secret is to design processes that mirror the customer journey and their decision cycle. If your team is able to anticipate the needs of the customer and help them along on their journey, then you can save time along the way while increasing sales velocity and reducing costs.

Benefits of Process Alignment:

Strategic (Company Focused)

  • Grow Revenue
  • Increase Market Share
  • Increase Sales Velocity
  • Campaign Optimization

Operational (Departmental Focus)

  • Increase Efficiency
  • Execution Clarity, Lead Quality
  • Decrease Cost per Sale
  • Capacity for more Campaigns

Your job in 2017 is to articulate, communicate, and evangelize the CRM vision – focus on the process, not just the data. Make a list, prioritize that list and consider the rate of change while trying not to do too much in too short a period of time. With respect to process efficiency, introduce change and transformation properly with input from other teams. Finally, keep an eye on your communications, vertically and horizontally (do more than simply manage up), doing your very best to facilitate the change.

Introduction

By 2020, customer experience will outweigh the importance of price and product. Are you investing enough in building relationship with a customer?

This is the first in a new blog series on the role of customer relationships and how Relationship Analytics can improve your key sales and business metrics.

Complex B2B Sales and Customer Relationship

There is a common notion that once you have developed a superior product or service with a strong value prop, you don’t need to invest a whole lot in the sales process. It’s the whole “good products sell themselves” fallacy. Top performing B2B sales leaders and reps don’t buy into this myth, they know very well that going into a deal and simply showcasing a badass demo or offering lower prices than the competition are not good enough to close. This is true especially for B2Bs with a complex sales model.

B2Bs win by building relationships. A relationship based sales approach is not easy, but it is what sets winning companies apart from competitors. In fact, a Gallup study shows that a typical B2B company has optimal relationship with just one in five of its customers. But those fully engaged customers deliver a 23% premium over average customers in share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth.

Let us look at sales scenarios where relationship building has far better returns than other commonly used sales approaches and tactics; or even worse, the absence of sales systems and process.

Often, sales reps rely on cold calling. But stats from various studies clearly suggest that this may not be effective use of the sales leader’s budget or the sales rep’s time. Consider that only 1% of cold calls result in meetings. Or that a staggering 90% of B2B decision makers don’t respond to cold sales outreach. 84% of B2B leaders start their individual buying journeys with referrals. Nearly 3 out of 4 business execs say that they prefer to work with sales professionals who were referred by someone they know.

These stats all mean that sales teams must evolve how they engage with prospects. On the flip side, buyers expect consistent engagement during their journey.

Relationships play a crucial role even with your existing customers. A concerted effort to build relationships improves the lifetime value of your customers – better subscription renewal rates, more referrals, customer advocacy and higher conversions in upsell or cross-sell scenarios.

CRM and Relationship Analytics

Now that we have reiterated the value of customer relationships, you may be asking, “isn’t my CRM meant to help me with relationship building? Especially, when the CRM acronym stands for Customer Relationship Management!” (A fair point).

As a sales leader, you know the effectiveness of a CRM system depends on the quality, accuracy and integrity of your prospect and customer data. At the same time, you want your sales members to focus on sales activities and spend minimal time on CRM data entry or CRM administrative tasks. As a result, CRM data can become incomplete from time-to-time.

Enter a Relationship Analytics solution. Imagine having a software app that will dig out the relationships between your employees in the entire organization and your customers. It doesn’t stop there. The software then automatically enters that relationship data and insights into the CRM system. We will share more details in the next post of the “Building Solid Relationships with Customers” blog series.

CRM is a foundation tool for sales. A Relationship Analytics solution will extend and enhance your core CRM system.

Summary

In this post, we talked about why you need to invest in building customer relationships and a sneak preview of Relationship Analytics. In the next post, we will share more details of an out-of-the-box Relationship Analytics solution for Sugar.

 

 

Business models and entire industries are being disrupted by new technologies as digital transformation forces organizations to reassess how they adapt and provide their customers with value into the future.

One key theme that has emerged during this time of disruption is a big obstacle to making the transition from product-focused to customer-focused is often changing business culture. Changing employee behavior is more difficult than redesigning products and services or implementing new technology. However, the failure to  consider the impact of organizational change will undermine any other investment.

Using CRM Technology to Drive Cultural Change

The often unrealized potential benefit of CRM technology is that it can be a very effective way of driving organizational change.

Customer-facing employees using a CRM will spend many hours per day on the system in order to be more effective in their daily job duties. A flexible CRM system supports and reinforces the behaviors you need in order to succeed in achieving your desired future state.

What Culture do I Need?

Organizational culture is as unique as the customers you serve and the products and services you provide. But, there are some fundamental principles that can apply to any organization.

Recognizing and Valuing Customers

Your customers are people who want to be recognized, respected and valued as individuals and as customers.

One of the major obstacles facing employees trying to be more customer-centric is access to accurate information. Modern CRM provides the opportunity to consolidate information from multiple sources and provide a single view of the customer; providing a way of “hearing,” understanding and relating to each individual customer.

Data about customers can be gathered from all of your information systems, including digital channels like online orders, the website, social media and more, and then combined with information from human channels when a person speaks to a customer on the phone.

Customer-centric culture starts with understanding who a business’ customers are, and CRM that helps employees see the full view of their customers underpins this.

Building Trust

Customer loyalty and trust go hand-in-hand, and the behaviors for building trust are fairly universal.

Keeping Promises

One of the quickest ways to destroy trust is to break a promise, even if it’s trivial commitments like, “someone will get back to you in 24 hours.” CRM technology can help employees learn to keep promises by reminding users of commitments and deadlines, and escalating urgent activities and tasks to ensure promises are kept.

Being Responsive

Trust is built by organizations being consistently responsive to customers, especially when there are questions or issues. CRM tools provide the opportunity to give your customer-facing staff the tools and information required to answer enquiries and address issues quickly.

Being Proactive

Having a single view of the customer, with all relevant information in one place, will allow your customer-facing staff (and automation systems) the ability to anticipate the needs of customers and proactively address them, rather than waiting for the customer to initiate contact.

Knowledgeable People

As anyone who has ever called customer service knows, it’s a joy (and a mild surprise) to speak with someone who is knowledgeable and helpful.  But knowledge about what you are selling is only part of the picture. The picture isn’t complete without being similarly knowledgeable about the customer, their needs and wants and previous history with the organization.

Having Time for Customers

Mobile Workforce

Mobile technology has changed the way we work, and provided the opportunity to free employees from their desks to spend more time where their customers are.

Automation

The process of automating otherwise frustrating and time-consuming administrative efforts provides another opportunity for a quick win. Automation only works when the data being collected and the supporting “what do I do with this data” processes are in alignment. When this occurs, the benefits of automation positively reinforce new business processes.

Listening to Customers

When a CRM system pulls customer data together across the customer’s whole journey, it invariably crosses departmental boundaries and makes it easier for marketing, sales, and post-sales teams to collaborate. This transparency will help highlight where things are working and where there is room for improvement.

The process of configuring the CRM forces teams to consider where the departmental boundaries should be, and what the optimal approach for process handoff should be. The new processes become embodied and reinforced by the CRM system, quickly defining the new normal. This works especially well when the early phases of the CRM project focus on those high-profile challenges facing two teams who need to work more closely together.

Measuring what’s working

CRM can provide transparency into what’s working and what’s not by measuring the organization at three different levels; business outcomes such as revenue or profit, customer metrics such as net promoter score, and operational indicators such as time to resolution on customer enquiries.
Constantly monitoring performance keeps the organization focused on the change that was envisioned, identifying the areas that are working and the areas that need more challenge. Getting the measures right, creates a constant reminder of the new processes, making it part of “the way we do things around here”.

Incremental improvement

A CRM that is flexible enough to continue to evolve and improve without huge re-implementation costs will help support a “culture of innovation”.

Encouraging the organization to continually improve the information system will also drive constant innovation in business processes, and ultimately the exercise of change itself will become part of the organizational culture.

However, the contrary outcome is that a big, complex, and inflexible CRM reduces the ability of the organization to innovate and adapt to changing customer demands.

Anchoring New Approaches in the Culture

Culture can be defined as behavior and shared values among a group of people, who then pass those values on to new members. An ideal CRM will support this normalization of behavior by providing reporting and transparency into who is effectively following the new ways of doing things, and highlighting those exceptions as and when they occur.

Standardizing this approach provides the opportunity to tighten the feedback loop so that deviations from accepted practice are identified quickly, immediately, or even prevent the deviation from occurring in the first place.

A flexible CRM system, appropriately configured, can entrench a pattern of delivering great customer experiences into your organizational culture.

I just read a report from Grand View Research that said the global healthcare CRM market is expected to reach USD $17.4 billion by 2025. For comparison’s sake, the same report said healthcare firms will spend about $6.5 billion on CRM in 2016 . The study said, “rising demand for workflow automation and a single platform for tracking medical information provides coordination of patient care, service and timely delivery which is expected to drive the industry growth.”

At SugarCRM, we obviously like hearing about growth in CRM no matter what industry. However, our customers in the healthcare industry have always been some of our favorites. Doing our part to improve the relationships between providers and patients, caregivers and those in need, and helping to simplify the complicated medical insurance industry is extremely gratifying.

In fact, we just received a new report from Nucleus Research that examines the success of a global healthcare provider that relies on Sugar. Because of the sensitivity of patient/insurance data, we are withholding the name of the customer for security reasons. But here are the highlights:

The Company

The company profiled is a global provider of eHealth and digital imaging solutions, specializing in radiology, enterprise imaging, hospital IT and integrated care.

The Challenge

Prior to SugarCRM, the company had a homegrown funnel management application. Customer data was siloed between software solutions, preventing a single view of the customer across departments, and made it difficult for marketing and sales to cultivate and manage opportunities effectively.

The Strategy

The company began exploring potential CRM solutions in January 2013, putting together a list of business requirements and sending a request for proposal (RFP) to six qualified CRM vendors. Salesforce, SAP, and SugarCRM were evaluated, and ultimately the company’s global team unanimously chose SugarCRM based on the following reasons:

  • On-premise solution: With its unique interfaces, the company believed it would be better served by an on-premise solution. SugarCRM has both SaaS and on premise, which would allow the company to transition to the cloud later if they so chose.
  • Mobile: Of the vendors considered, SugarCRM had the most robust mobile solution, on and offline, which was essential for the company’s sales teams.
  • SugarCRM ecosystem: The company was attracted to the large number of apps that integrate with SugarCRM, because they had many solutions to interface with including SAP, Lotus Notes, and a third-party quoting tool.

The company began customizing the solution to fit its business needs and deployed it for testing in January 2014. In October 2014, it went live in North America and employees underwent one full day of training. In preparation for deployment in Europe, the company performed gap analysis and worked with Sugar to make minor adjustments for the European market, going live there in October 2015. Sugar continues to manage design and development for the company. By June 2016, design work was complete and the solution was live in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America with over 500 licenses.

Key Benefits

Implementing SugarCRM enabled the company to replace its customer relationship management processes with an on-premise, CRM solution that meets its global business needs. SugarCRM has broken down data siloes, enabled sales and marketing to become more effective at managing accounts, and increased profit overall at the company. Key benefits driving increased profits include:

  • Growth of new business: SugarCRM enabled sales to manage prospects more effectively, equipping them with the tools to capitalize on new opportunities and move them through the sales cycle seamlessly.
  • Expansion of existing accounts: With a single view of its customers, the company has a more complete picture of customer histories, enabling it to maintain relationships more effectively and take advantage of upsell opportunities.
  • Improved collaboration between marketing and sales. SugarCRM has provided a framework for sales and marketing to collaborate and manage accounts, reducing duplicate efforts or opportunities falling through the cracks.

Key Costs

Over the three-year period, the largest cost area was software, taking into account both expensed and capitalized software costs. Other costs included consulting, personnel, and training.

Best Practices

With so many offices located around the world, the company needed a highly customizable CRM solution which would suit a wide range of needs. The company also needed a partner which could design, develop and integrate customizations into the platform for them. With SugarCRM’s open platform and third-party integration capabilities, it can integrate other applications while still having a unified, on premise solution.

For colleges and universities, student outreach begins with the first recruiting interaction and it must continue throughout the student’s time on campus and into his or her career as they become a potential donor.

CRM is the technology foundation that many colleges and universities use to focus on engaging with students and alumni. It enables schools to coordinate and track the student journey throughout their time on campus and beyond.

SugarCRM customer Fordham University uses Sugar to build relationships and boost loyalty among students and alumni. We caught up with Shaya Phillips, the associate vice president for information technology at Fordham, to discuss how the university gets a complete view of its students and empowers its staff by putting Sugar at the core of its student relationship management.

Check out the video:

I am happy to announce a new podcast series from SugarCRM. This, among others to come, will be a series of short, but useful vignettes focused on forging a path to long-term CRM success.

The first series is titled: CRM Secrets Revealed. It outlines a lot of “secrets” (but for many of us who have deployed CRM – these are more truisms than secrets) that some CRM providers DON’T want you to know. The series represents the launch of our podcast channel: CRM Insights.

I hope you can tune in to these podcasts, and hopefully learn something new that can help your CRM evaluation or deployment. Or, simply sit back and be entertained during your commute or time on the elliptical!

I read this passage in an article on CIO.com yesterday:

Most election prediction shops and public polls in recent days foresaw Republican Donald Trump losing the U.S. presidential race to Democrat Hillary Clinton.

They got it wrong, bigly. And the failed predictions could cast doubts on some hot technology sectors, including big data and customer relationship management.

Let me begin by saying this isn’t a political post. Instead, I’m going to focus on the value of clean data. No matter what side of the vote you come down on, I think we can agree something went terribly wrong with the almost all of the pre-election predictions. The reason, the forecasters were working with incomplete data. Which, led to a shockingly inaccurate (at least according to what the data predicted) result.

Relating this back to the CRM industry. If your CRM has inaccurate data, you will also get an inaccurate result. If you are dealing with dirty data, how can your CRM project be successful? How can your sales team be efficient and perform at an optimal level? Once dirty data enters the CRM, it can be painstaking to cleanse.

Luckily, intelligent CRM can help by automatically bringing in a broad range of accurate data for a more complete view of the customer. In so doing, the CRM solves a problem that has often been a stubborn obstacle to CRM adoption — the time-consuming effort of having to add, edit and update information in the system. Even more important than gathering a tremendous amount of accurate data, a product like Sugar Intelligence will use predictive analytics to sift through the data to enable the CRM to make intelligent recommendations for insights and best actions to take when engaging with customers.

It’s been said we are in the era of “big data politics.” Perhaps by 2020, we’ll have evolved to a political era of predictive analytics or even machine learning. But, I’ll save that for a future post.