Read any white paper or marketing brochure for a CRM system and it will have an extensive list of features. Contact management? Check! Customer Tracking? Yup! Project Management? OK! Report generation? Got it! Email? Sure, why not! The list goes on and on.
However, what many people don't understand when they're looking for a CRM solution is that the features are irrelevant. The thing everyone should be looking at is how they want to turn their leads into connections, connected relationships that "manage" to turn into long term and valuable customers. Show me a CRM that helps your customers relate to you, and you to them - surprise, that feature doesn't exist in today's CRM software. It simply focuses on what the business does with leads. Creating a connection isn't just an "insiders" view, it's external - it's where your customers and potential customers are steering the ship.
The problem is many business get CRM systems that are not designed to facilitate communication based on the unique set of concerns, needs and what people are searching for or "social networking" about. CRM is just a package of features designed to automate the "sales force" - which is great, if you"re all about pushing and making sales with a team of people. But when you"re an entrepreneur, a small business, that has to depend on trust and connections that last with your customers, you need to really resonate with your market- in short, you need to be "connected" for REAL. It's not just about what you do inside your business, it's about how you bring what you do with that unique quality to connect with the unique qualities of your customers and leads.
The thing is. if customers really wanted an automated sales force, or pushy sales people, they would just buy right from a web site, or publish their phone number for every CRM to capture, auto dial and have Joe Schmooze on the other end "sell them" Leads and customers don't want that approach any more. They want to have a connection they can trust, questions they can search about and conversations they can have in social networks that help other people answer their questions. If you're not connecting your company like this, you're not connecting with your market or your customers. Automating your sales force, powering them (or yourself) with more features and tools can do more damage than good. And it can be costly to buy that "feature rich" horsepower.
A successful connected business knows it's their core processes that generate new business and sales. They use that in a way that they can build trust and relationships with their discerning leads and new prospects. And they bring their unique abilities and voice of their company and team into the market - in a way their leads and customers can relate to them.
If a CRM sales brochure says that automation and tools for you or your sales force are the keys to growing your business - run away! You can automate the data, you can automate processes, and you can automate reports; but to truly connect and grow your business, keep your customers, it's the voice, the connected relationship, that wins the trust and then the sale.
The idea is "high tech - high touch" - most CRM systems nail the high tech, but have no way to handle the high touch your company needs to connect in your market ahead of the competition.
That's why we invented CRM3 -Management, Market (message) and Measure - or:
1. Manage your processes - know what makes your company unique, successful and expand on that 2. Message WITH, not AT your customers 3. Measure the effectiveness and satisfaction of those interactions (are your emails opening, are your links clicked, are your lists growing, and are your sales growing up upsales rising?) - are you responding 1 to 1 with REAL information rather than a SPAM news letter that you "think" will be interesting to your customers? You should be able to do that with your technology.
If a business is focusing on automating their sales force, they're not focusing on their customers. They are focusing inside, instead of outside - where all the new business is. Engaging your prospects and customers in a conversation is just like having a personal conversation. Talking at them will get your company about as far as telling your teen age daughter not to see her boyfriend (take it from me, it just doesn't work). When you start listening to your customers and seeking to understand their needs, you've connected in the market.
A one dimensional CRM solution, that focuses solely on features and high tech solutions will never help a business win in today's market that is connected, interactive and networked; customers self discover, communicate and create their own information - so start listening before you sell. You'll be amazed at what you hear to drive the decisions of which company customers will buy from. You need tools to communicate and connect properly - to give your prospects and customers the information they want.
Don't settle for CRM, follow the Connected Relationship: Market, Manage, Message CRM3 process. You'll leverage your business" unique assets, beyond a sales force, and grow like never before in your Connected Market Space.