Identify the Problem before the Solution

By Heather Baldwin

Psst! Want to know the secret to a successful eCRM implementation? In their 2001 Sales & Marketing Effectiveness study, Jim Dickie, managing partner of Insight Technology Group, and Sam Reese, CEO of Miller Heiman, found there were four common denominators to the most successful implementations – executive sponsorship, front-end evaluation of sales and marketing processes, a focus on people, not technology, and an establishment of ROI. Of those, the need to identify sales and marketing process weaknesses before looking at technology is probably the most crucial.”A lot of companies start out by asking which vendor they should go with, but we say, ‘Let’s first figure out what you’re trying to solve,'” says Reese. One way to do that, Dickie adds, is to sit down with your sales team and ask them why they can’t double their quota. “You’ll start getting answers that show where the problems are – ‘I can’t get a proposal out the door fast enough’ or ‘I get too many leads from marketing and don’t know which are best qualified.'”The survey asked 226 companies what they were doing to improve overall sales and marketing excellence. Of those 226, 67 percent purchased an eCRM application; of that 67 percent who purchased a system, 24 percent said they’d seen significant results from it, 52 percent said they’d seen minor improvements and 25 percent said they saw no benefit at all. But consider this: the average cost per user of all the implementations was $10,385, but the average cost per user of those 24 percent of projects which generated “significant results” was $17,003. “They knew exactly what problem they were solving,” said Dickie, so they knew exactly what software was right to solve it and didn’t hesitate to invest in that application.

So what did those companies get for their average $17,000-plus investment? One distribution company increased revenues by 41 percent per sales rep; a products reseller cut ramp-up time for new reps from nine months down to four months; a manufacturing company decreased its order errors from 23 percent to 0 percent; and a marketing campaign specialist decreased collateral costs by 67 percent while increasing its lead conversion rate by 36 percent. “When you do it right,” said Dickie, “you hit the ball out of the park.”