In the last blog in this series, I discussed the serious shortcomings of CRM applications in the past. There were two major reasons for this—one being the technology not being up to par, and the other being that the user was completely left out of the development equation. For that reason a common phrase about CRM became popular with users: “CRM sucks.”
A prime reason for user complaints was the amount of data entry that was required from users, especially salespeople—without any actual assistance and help back to them from the CRM solution. A cry began to be raised by users for CRM to be simplified and made easier when it came to data entry.
Following Thought Processes
But being easy and simple for data entry is a very short-sided view of CRM. Data entry isn’t the primary issue on which we need to focus, if we’re to really understand what CRM should be, and develop sound CRM applications in the future.
Which leads to the crucial question and the topic for this article: What should CRM be doing for a company?
Despite the “big bang” explosion of the Internet (described in the first blog in this series) that brought about a revolution in data, many CRM solutions (including some of the big ones) are still presenting data in spreadsheet-type—albeit glorified spreadsheet-type—formats. These formats do not at all match up with the ways the Internet and new technology have changed how people are thinking and using technology.
You could say that today technology has become an extension of the mind. People conduct searches for items and data, but the internet has become just as vital when people have questions. For example, one could ask, “When was the American Declaration of Independence written?” and have the answer in seconds. It is no longer necessary to memorize reams of facts.
People are moving out of line-by-line, step-by-step organization of data into a more contextualized approach of, “Where do I find an answer to my question?” CRM solutions have not taken this shift in thinking into account. Hence, CRM applications in the future are going to have to become more intelligent in terms of what they are providing for the user, and how they are providing it.
CRM Provision of Data—and Why
Today a CRM user is totally bombarded by too much information. For that reason, one function of the new breed of CRMs must be as a guide through all the noise. CRM should provide focus to the user into tasks, activities and opportunities on which the user should have attention.
For anyone coming newly into the company, CRM should be something that immediately helps the person dive right in and start their job—with no pain. It should be similar to buying a new car; it’s something that is actually a fairly complex operation, but you can just get in and drive.
For any user type within an organization—whether it be a salesperson, finance personnel, sales development rep, tech support or any others—the information should be right there, immediately available in real time for one purpose and one purpose only: to help the person make sound management decisions.
Well Beyond “CRM”
Today many people actually have an incorrect perspective on management—they think that the first point of management is managing subordinates. Some have forgotten that the first part of management is managing yourself.
If you’re going to do that effectively, you need technology. Today anyone in business cannot deal with the rapidity and complexity of data, and information overload without digital solutions.
The actual solution people need for this management is CRM. But for practical purposes we need a broader term than “CRM”, simply because “management” as addressed by a solution such as Pipeliner, goes well beyond just “customer relationships.”
For managing oneself, a solution begins with helping address priorities, tasks, needs and issues for the person. Then, the system must provide indications, triggers, notifications and suggestions that are important to the user today, right now. A person has a quota, a job, a set of tasks—what does the person have to do to reach or attain that?
Then, following in sequence of the correct order of management, a person would next have to excel in managing the relationship with their boss. The boss will always have questions about where things are at, what’s coming up, how targets are being met, and so on. Part of a person’s management would have to include how they efficiently handle this relationship.
Next in line come the customers—and beyond customers (still in the realm of sales) you’re also dealing with leads, prospects and repeat customers.
But it doesn’t end there. In a growing company, you have peers, and management of peer relationships is also a management job.
Finally, at the end of the line, comes the part of the job that everyone thinks is the first part: that of managing subordinates.
Helping take care of the entirety of management as pictured above is the future view of CRM (or whatever its expanded version comes to be called). The battle for CRM will be for the solution that effectively accomplishes all of these things.
Next up: The true-life story of the CRM that is meeting the above qualifications head-on.
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