The Rainbow Connection

The Rainbow Connection

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  1. If you’re like many companies looking to improve their sales, then you’ve probably done your fair share of salivating at the purported pots of gold said to be had by a successful CRM implementation. Perhaps you’ve even seen the results for yourself, firsthand. With increases to sales well into the double-digits, percentage-wise, this is most definitely not some ‘pie in the sky’, but just how do you make that rainbow land in your backyard?

    What, exactly, is this ‘rainbow’ to begin with?!

    That is the most important question you could ask. Indeed, your entire expenditure will likely be for naught without it. I’ve met with dozens of company presidents and sales executives who knew only that they needed to “improve their sales” and that ‘CRM’ was the way to do it.

    “Okay, but how do you want Customer Relationship Management to do this for you?”, I will ask.

    Dead stares will abound…

    It’s not that it’s really a difficult question to answer; it’s just one that most people fail to take into consideration from the outset, because ‘CRM’ is the answer… isn’t it??

    Having personally given companies upwards of 40% increases to their on-going, sales-generated revenue, I will definitely be one to say that, yes, CRM is the answer to a vastly improved bottom line, BUT – and you may have heard this from others (and I couldn’t agree with them more) – CRM will live or die by your definition of what ‘it’ is.

    I could go into the many different aspects of one’s relationships with one’s leads, prospects, and/or clients that can be improved upon immeasurably by a good CRM tweaking, but that’s not the purpose of my contribution here.

    When people ask me how I would go about ensuring a successful roll-out if I were them, knowing your definition of how CRM can help you, ranks first amongst three stalwart guideposts of equally critical importance.

    The second of these (once the first one – the definition – is, for the most part, in place) is full-on, no holds barred, top-down, corporate buy-in from the highest level possible. If there is any lack of faith – and I’m not talking about doubters (there will always be doubters, to a certain degree) – if the project’s buy-in is not resolutely advocated by the highest possible officer of your company (and, at least, perceived to be of equal value by the chain of command downwards), then you will inadvertently stymie, if not fatally wound, the realization of the third, equally critical component of a successful CRM roll-out: the impression it makes upon your sales force.

    Remember, until the system is actually in place and is being used by everyone to great success, the only thing anyone who’s expected to be using it is going to have to go by is what is perceived to be the impression from on-high. This, much more so than the influence any consultant you may have training them can deliver (however talented they may be). And, believe me; if they perceive the project to be little more than an experiment, with nobody on their side investing any true ownership and enthusiasm for it themselves, you will be shooting yourself in the foot – big time.

    As simple, or as complex, as the changes your CRM project may bring, they will be system-wide, and not something you can expect to derive any success from if your top sellers feel they can just discard it and carry-on as per usual.

    ‘Appearances’ are absolutely crucial at the beginning. Many younger, newer, and/or less experienced sales managers, whose bosses have left it, at least perceivably, up to them to ‘prove themselves’ by turning the project into a success, are further disadvantaged by what, in many cases, may be an older, more experienced sales force beneath them, who are only naturally going to be inclined to resist any change from the outset. This resistance is to be expected even with the grandest of project introductions, and even if the project promises to make their lives easier and more efficient, as the best CRM project can do. But there can be no half-measures, in this regard, when rolling-out a CRM project, however small it may be. If you’re looking for the speediest, and best, results possible (and who isn’t), faith and enthusiasm in the changes ahead needs to be clearly and honestly felt from across the board.

    Only when the system has been in use for a little while, at least, and the project has begun to yield its fruit, as evidenced by all, will everyone be ready to finally make the switch from a purely faith-based adoption of the system to a genuinely proof-based one (and that’s when the thank you letters start coming in!). But getting there DOES take faith – usually over an extended period of time of maybe a quarter at the minimum, so it follows that whatever exuberance you’ve decided to bestow upon your project, deserves that exuberance to begin with, hence the importance of your definition.

    Pots of gold are, most definitely, a reality that many companies can deliver themselves, but be sure to wake yourself up with these three guideposts in your search, and your dreams will land that rainbow in your backyard before you know it.

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