Monday, July 2, 2007

Making CRM Work

We comment a lot about why CRM systems fail so very often. A common reason is because the people behind the implementation did not consider the entire organization, especially the front-line users.

Prior to RRW, I was a salesperson for a large database/data provider. Some muckety-muck made the decision to install Siebel as a salesforce automation tool. (By the way, I have nothing against Siebel--this is simply an example of a super poor implementation.) As a sales rep, it seemed that the company's goal was at a minimum to keep tabs on their reps, and further to enable a seamless transition to a new salesperson if they wanted to fire you. Encouraging for the sales rep, right?...

To make things worse, old, inaccurate and duplicate customer data was imported to the system (the number one CRM sin, especially as it was commited by a provider of marketing databases). Bad data ensured that none of us would trust that the contact name or phone number coming out of the system would be correct. Then, The firm imposed mandates on us sales reps as to frequency of usage. They actually gave us minimal weekly limits of things we had to input (such as call reports, pipeline activity).

In a nutshell, this implementation was not successful. A wasted multi-million dollar investment that brought zero value to that organization.

Based on this experience, I was pleased to see this article in "Destination CRM" today that gives some practical tips on how to get the sales reps to not only use the CRM system, but to love the system. It talks about building value for reps by including tools that they will find useful, not just tools that management can use to evaluate sales effectiveness.

From the article: "Trying to convince a salesperson to use a CRM system is not unlike trying to convince a child to eat vegetables. As a child is told that vegetables are good for him, a salesperson is told a CRM system will improve the financial health of the company. Most of the time, neither one finds what's served to them appetizing.

This can't be ignored. Companies can try the forceful do-as-you're-told parental tactic, but this will likely breed resentment, and, unlike children, salespeople can choose to leave the table. So what's the solution? It's simple: Approach your salespeople as if they are your best customers and focus on providing them and the company value."

Interesting that it always comes back to value!


Anonymous said...


Your observations are spot on. I've seen many a Siebel implementation go sour for many reasons [I was part of Siebel for nearly 5 years]. Any CRM platform [Siebel, SAP, SFDC - take your pick] will fail if planned and managed poorly. In the most successful efforts, the sales processes were evaluated, tweaked, sometimes overhauled. Salespersons were a critical part of that process - solutions built around the customer as a priority and functionality built around customer sales/support processes. Bad data cleaned before load. Organizations aligned. Same page shared. Users trained. System updates enforced along with carrots for good behavior, etc. The truly successful programs set a baseline pre-rollout, measured performance, evaluated customer sat, rev, ROI+, and made adjustments as needed to meet changes in the market. At the core, Siebel was engineered rather well but, as with anything else, can lead to very embarrased execs if too much is left to chance thinking that a slam-dunk investment in new s/w will solve the problems without the investment and focus in the other areas.


Suzanne Obermire said...

Ron, thanks for your comment. Coming from an-ex-Siebelite, it's even more meaningful. If companies would just spend a little bit of time explaining to users the importance (and the benefits) of the system, it would go a long way. And, in my situation, it was truly a crime that bad data was loaded--the firm I worked for pioneered the data cleansing/address hygiene industry!

CRM systems are awesome, IF they're done right!