I find it almost unbelievable that I need to say it. But today, nearly 30 years after the first CRM system hit the market, it’s still true, and there seems to be many companies who have not gotten the message: yes, you do need a CRM! This article—and the next 2 in this series—are designed to show you exactly why.
Welcome to the Digital World
To begin with, we are all now living square in the middle of the digital world. If you want an example of just how true this is, leave your smartphone at home for a day. Anyone who does so will probably go crazy after awhile. Just watch someone who has lost their phone, and how frantic they get.
Smartphones have come a long way from simply being phones used for calling. In fact, I would venture to guess that 80 percent of smartphone users are not using them for calling, but for many other tasks—searching for open tables at restaurants, placing reservations, renting cars, shopping, booking flights, playing games, listening to music, and even watching TV, sports and movies. There are tens of thousands of apps out there, some more useful than others.
Guess what all of that is? Digital! It’s all interconnected—otherwise, we couldn’t use it. That’s why, when we take a smartphone away from a user, they become seriously depressed and lost.
In this digital world in which we’re living, a smartphone is just one component of the whole system. A business is a part of that system—and a company without a digital process is not long for this world.
Even the IRS has become wise to the digital age and has exact processes. Most tax returns are not submitted hard copy any longer—they are electronically submitted and go through complex processes with the IRS.
Companies that don’t have some kind of process can be very annoying. You arrive, and you’re asked for your name, your phone number, your address, and so on—every time you show up. After a while you say, “I’ve been here four times! You should know these things!” As a customer, you can become very perturbed.
An example of exactly the opposite is Amazon—their digital processes are amazing. I’m a big fan of Amazon Fresh because I no longer have to make regular trips to the store. For example, I get my weekly 4 gallons of milk, required for my family, delivered. Beyond not having to carry them, I’m saving in three ways—time, money, and gas for my car.
Amazon is a shining example of how rapidly customers will change their habits if they see a benefit.
Following Amazon’s example, every company must have processes.
Using processes, businesses must create an infrastructure for themselves. Such an infrastructure must include a perfect infrastructure for its customers.
What is at the core of such an infrastructure? It is a CRM. It is that CRM that makes it possible for your company to continue to interact with and service customers—and without it, you have no customers. You can have the best booking system in the world, but if you have no customers, you don’t need a booking system. You can have Quickbooks, but if no one is buying your product or service, you won’t care about Quickbooks. And if you have no customers, you have no revenue, because only customers bring revenue.
It is only a CRM solution that makes it possible for you to accurately track your customers. If you only have 10 customers, perhaps you can track them in your head. But 100 or more? Forget about it.
You must know about their buying behavior, their contact details, your communication history with them, and what kinds of products or services they have purchased. And it goes beyond simply knowing about the customer—you need to know how you can support them, for if you don’t perfectly support a customer, you lose them.
Once again, all of this is digital!
All of your company processes should interact with each other. When you have a sale pending, you know if inventory will support the deal, and when the deal goes through you know how your stock has been impacted. You know when the customer pays. You know if the customer has any issues requiring support.
All of these processes must be geared around the customer and must be smooth, without any hiccups. All of that happens through CRM, so if you have no CRM, you have no 360-degree view of that customer, and you’re lost. You have no future. Maybe you can survive for a time, but sooner or later you’ll go down. You’ve shot yourself back to the Stone Age.
Today’s Drastic CRM Difference
Back when CRM systems were initially developed, they might have been called “Customer Relationship Management” but they were not really designed for managing the customer—they were designed to manage (and control) salespeople. Through CRM, sales managers were (figuratively) constantly chasing salespeople around. That’s why salespeople, for many years, have hated them.
I was always against that approach, so 11 years ago when I began development for Pipeliner CRM, I made sure it didn’t work that way. In the last few years (in no small way because of Pipeliner CRM), CRM is no longer targeted at managing salespeople. CRM is all about helping customers and assisting salespeople to do a better job in servicing customers.
Servicing a customer means having and understanding a 360-degree view of any customer: purchases, invoicing, service, support, communication, the account manager, marketing materials provided, and much more. That’s all reflected in CRM.
CRM not only becomes crucial, but it is also the driving force of sales. If you’re not implementing a CRM system, you’re not growing your company. Every company without a CRM will, sooner or later, go the way of all flesh. When you’re regularly losing a percentage of your business, without a CRM you won’t even be aware of it. One day you’ll come to work and there won’t be any more business.
So, Do You Really Need It?
If someone today asks me, “Is there a need for CRM?” I would answer, “It’s not a need—it’s an urgency.”
I still run across companies that don’t quite believe it. Back when the first automobiles were arriving on the scene, there were those who didn’t believe in them, either. They invested further in their horses—in people to take care of them, and in stables. When the motor vehicle really took hold, such people were rapidly forced out of business.
Today, lack of technology adoption has a much more rapid effect. Do you realize that the smartphone has only been around for about 10 years? That’s nothing in terms of time. But today people won’t live without them.
So yes, CRM is absolutely vital.
In the next two articles, we’ll go into the details of selecting and implementing CRM.