If you have ever participated in a distance race – be it running, cycling, swimming or anything of the like – you know the satisfaction of finally crossing that finish line. Chances are, you know the mind games that happen along the way too. Early in the race, you have to push out those nagging thoughts about just how far you still have to go to reach the end. As you get closer to the end, depending on your competitive drive, one of two things tend to happen. You either find some additional adrenaline which propels you to the end, or you begin to relax, maybe even slow down a bit, knowing that you have finally made it.
In many ways, a project is like a distance race. It has a beginning (usually nervous excitement), a middle (fighting the monotony) and an end (I can finally stop). There are lots of project methodologies for implementing enterprise software, and they too have a beginning, a middle and an end. The challenge with this thinking, however, is that many enterprise software projects, especially those relating to Customer Relationship Management (CRM), should continue to evolve as the needs of the business evolve.
It’s often said that CRM is a journey, not a destination, and we couldn’t agree more. You can always improve your customer data through data cleansing, adding additional data sources or capturing real-time social activity. You can – and should – always be thinking about your messaging in terms of how you are retaining customers and attracting new ones. (If not, then prepare to be passed by a competitor who is.) The point is that the pursuit of optimal CRM is, in fact, an ongoing and evolving journey to optimize the customer experience.
From Post-Project Relief to Growing Frustration
If your company has been through a significant implementation of a CRM solution, you’ve experienced the early excitement, the mid-way monotony and the cross-the-finish-line relief when you go live. Unfortunately, this sense of relief is, all too often, replaced by a growing sense of frustration over time. You find yourself asking questions like: why have our end users stopped using the system? Why don’t the first-line managers seem to care that the end users aren’t participating?
Before you know it, you learn that half of the sales team is using an independent tool (often Excel-based) to manage their activities and opportunities. All of the time, effort and money that was invested in creating a holistic and enterprise-wide system has led you right back to where you started when everyone was using whatever personal productivity tools he or she needed to do their own jobs. This approach may be fine for the individuals involved, but it’s detrimental to the organization as a whole.
Pretty soon there are cries for a “re-boot” of CRM, often by a newly hired or promoted sales manager, but the damage is done. The very mention of the letters C-R-M triggers symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder for the people who were part of the original implementation and especially for the field sales people who just want to be left alone.
A Customer Success Journey That We Take Together
So here’s the good news. There’s a better way. It requires a new way of thinking and a new model. It requires a partner that is committed to ongoing success, and it requires that the customer and partner operate as a single, cohesive team working in unison.
With more than 15 years of helping companies implement enterprise CRM systems, we have learned a lot about software and a lot about how people work. Most importantly, we have learned how to partner with our customers in a manner that maintains the focus on the journey and has us 100% committed to their continued success.
To learn more about what such a journey might look like for your organization, contact us today to start the conversation.