In my last article, I discussed the vital importance of understanding customer preferences in sales, and provided examples from my own company of how this is done.
Now, what about your preferences? How deeply do you evaluate your company’s preferences when selecting a platform or system? Let’s see how this should happen, and again we’ll provide examples from Pipeliner CRM.
Note that I’m addressing larger companies, with established sales teams, that require care when implementing automation.
Not Done Overnight
For a company, selecting a platform or system takes time and effort. It’s like many other things in life, such as raising children—they’re not sent to school immediately after they’re born. First they must learn to walk and talk, for they cannot do much of anything until they do.
We can make another comparison to Pipeliner development here, for our system was certainly not developed overnight. It was done carefully, over years, in iterations.
An analogy to the effort of implementing a system would be relocating a company. For example, if a company was located in China, and the owners wanted to move it back to the U.S., it would be an enormous project. Where should it be located? Where’s the land? What state would have the best tax structure and source of labor? There are many questions to be answered and issues to be addressed.
Given that these types of things take time, we have today created an expectation on companies that is totally unrealistic. You can’t, for example, instantly bring a team onboard in a company and tell them to work seamlessly together for customers. Building a team can take five to eight or more years before it is really stable and everlasting.
This “instant” approach to business systems is symptomatic of today’s instant society. Everyone’s used to the McDonald’s or Amazon model, where everything happens right now, now, now. What nobody takes into account is the fact that these models and processes took years of development before we ended up with this instant service.
Selecting and Implementing a CRM
Such an impatient approach can also be seen when selecting and implementing a system such as a CRM. Too many companies make a rapid, shallow choice of a CRM system and implement it. It either works or it doesn’t, and that’s the end of it.
Like the other activities we’ve mentioned, selecting and implementing a CRM cannot be done this way. It is vital that companies understand this.
The first barrier to implementing a system is understanding how it works—not so much the case with Pipeliner, as it has a very rapid learning curve, but for just about any other system out there. You need time to listen, learn, and obtain explanations where needed.
But equally or perhaps more important than understanding your new system is understanding how your company works. How is the team composed? What are the company’s goals and objectives, both internal and external? What should the metrics be? These questions aren’t automatically answered if the company is just handed a CRM system.
Much like in the company relocation analogy given earlier, selecting a CRM is a top-down decision. It is important that company leadership is involved every step of the way, understanding what can be accomplished and achieved.
Part of this understanding consists of building real relationships, both inside the company and with system vendors. There is an acute lack of relationships throughout business today. In fact, just as a side note, the “R” in CRM stands for “relationship,” but this aspect of CRM is almost never discussed—it’s all about management or automation.
This relationship absence is actually a malady of the SaaS business in general. We use so much software that we seem to consider that no relationship is necessary. Software is selected based on a high ranking by someone or some organization, or because it is heavily advertised—basically the loudest voice in the marketplace. Then we just download the software and, if we end up not using it, we just delete it. We’ve not connected or forged a relationship with anyone.
This practice of simply downloading, using or deleting with no relationship simply will not work with B2B systems, in which you have processes implemented in your company. This requires a relationship with a vendor.
Really accomplishing anything or making any change requires two or more people talking to each other and discussing what needs to be performed. We can make an analogy to building a house—the CRM vendor would design and build the house, but the company choosing and implementing the CRM is the house owner. If the owner doesn’t talk to the builder, how would they know what kind of house they’re getting?
In any relationship you develop, you must define clear boundaries. Just as you as a seller can be “pushed around” by a customer, so can you as a buyer be pushed by a seller. A seller could push you into overspending your budget, and you will never recommend that vendor.
Make no mistake—the currency of our networked society is recommendations. Recommendations don’t come out of “good feelings,” they come out of real results, of efficiency.
Let’s say you have a plumbing issue in your house and call a plumber to fix it. When he arrives, perhaps he’s not the person you expected. He may not be super-friendly, or good-looking, and he may be shy. But he’s like the second or third person you’ve had in to fix the problem—and gets a real result. Your sink works perfectly.
We all operate with mental filters, and one such filter is an assumption of someone fitting a mental profile. If someone like our plumber above comes along, we have to learn to put that profile aside. We need a real relationship, not something out of our assumptions.
Now, let’s come back to selecting a system.
Given what’s really needed to select a system for a company today, I am somewhat astonished when we meet with some companies through videoconferencing. They don’t even turn on video, and their questions are very shallow. They finish the conversation without even stating what they really want, what their goals are.
Selection of a system or platform requires digging deeper, and many don’t seem to want to do that anymore. Yet it is vital that any company serious about selecting the right system do so.
How It’s Done
How is this digging deeper accomplished?
Many of our prospects only define what they want by saying, “We want lead and opportunity management.” If they dug deeper they would ask themselves questions such as, where are these leads coming from? What are the routes for the leads coming in? How are leads qualified?
In truly working out a system or platform they want to acquire, a company should sit down in a meeting and list all the goals for their new system. From these, they should compose a full list of questions to ask every vendor they meet.
One vital requirement for any system is interconnection. Companies in the future will only be able to survive by connecting every one of their systems. This interconnection can occur with connection apps such as Zapier or through APIs.
But however they do it, no company will be able to exist within the next five years without “connecting the dots.” To connect the dots, they need people. These people must bring ideas, assumptions and expectations to the table. In other words, there must be relationships.
Through such relationships, your company may seek help. For example, your company realizes it needs to convert your company processes to be totally digital, because functioning in today’s business environment without digital processes is impossible. So next, how do you precisely define the steps to get there? If you’re unsure, you then must get help. That’s where consultants come in, and have important functionality.
Once your company has a clear idea of its goals, you then need to look at, from all the information you’ve collected, what system or platform will truly be best for your company?
Sometimes gathering information can be problematic. In the CRM industry, there is not a clear product comparison website. In the car industry, you can evaluate different types of vehicles, such as cars, SUVs, or trucks. They’re not all compared to each other in one lump as “cars.” CRMs, unfortunately, are. For example, a support ticketing system is not strictly speaking a CRM, yet you’d find it, along with many other kinds of systems that don’t necessarily fit, being compared to Pipeliner.
When you do the right thing and dig deeper by really evaluating what kind of system or platform you’re after, you’ll narrow the field. There will be fewer systems to choose from, and you’ll have a much easier time evaluating and comparing them.
The Pipeliner CRM Difference
When you investigate Pipeliner CRM, you’ll find that we provide more written and video content than any other CRM vendor in the world. This is because we want to give any company shopping for a CRM an absolute overview of our offering. We provide every possible bit of information through our website—features, functions, and reports from customers.
We are transparent because we have a belief system that underscores everything we do. This belief system consists of principles and clear guidance, which shows exactly what we do and how we operate.
We also believe in real communication with our customers. Therefore you’ll never find yourself communicating with a chatbot—only actual human beings.
In the end, again, it’s all about relationships. Sometimes relationships—like those of a family—can be a little troublesome. But today we must respect everyone equally, and make relationships work, bringing them up to be productive, efficient and good.