I've been involved with Customer Relationship Management since I was 7 years old and managed my very first lemonade stand. I quickly found out CRM's really not so hard to work, you just do what you say you are going to do and make sure you listen to their concerns. "Is it too sweet?", "Do I need to add more lemon juice?" were the questions I'd ask my customers and the answers would help me refine the product and sell more. Each step of my career I've used an informal CRM system to help me manage any project or business I might be involved with. The power of knowledge is nothing new, but I think CRM is mislabeled, it's really CCDM or Customer Communications Data Management.
CCDM is really needed throughout an organization and we use it at iMagicLab during all stages of the sales process. On the website (www.imagiclab.com) we set an impression that our product will make the sales cycle easier to manage. On our first demo we set the expectation that we don't negotiate on price and that we feel certain our product is the best there is. You can figure out the rest but the point is that managing the information that gets exchanged in simple communication is a huge competitive edge when it comes to understanding the needs of your prospects or handling the almost certain objections. Someday all calls will be transcribed automatically to create records of this crucial information exchange, but until then we rely on the "need" overcoming any burden that the technology creates. I say burden for a reason, because it really is a royal pain to input all this data and then use it effectively. Tens of thousands of users are typing notes into some type of tracking system as I write this but very few of them have any idea why. That's why CRM has failed most American companies: they provide wonderfully difficult technology to woefully under-trained staff and never articulate the clear benefits of its use. It's just mind boggling to me, but even iMagicLab customers sometimes just don't get it.
In my opinion it's managers so far that have failed companies by turning CRM systems into electronic babysitters and then using reports to chastise and demoralize folks. The message they deliver is wrong and it needs to change for sales organizations to realize their full potential. Could it be that the current group of managers do not understand the product they are mandating their employees to use? Do they really think it is big brother in a box? Whose fault is it and how do we correct it?
more to come....