Note: The follow is an edited excerpt from an article by Larry Caretsky, president of Commence Corporation, a leading CRM vendor located in Oakhurst, NJ.
When a company gets back to the basics, it thrives. For example, while the airline industry was competing over which company had the best Frequent Flyer program or served better meals, companies like Southwest and Jet Blue said: People fly because they want to get somewhere, on time, safely, at a reasonable cost. As a result, customers have flocked to them.
The same is true of software. When personal computers were first introduced they helped sales groups get back to basics and avoid busywork. For example, the original purpose of a spreadsheet was to do relatively straightforward tasks, such as organizing sales results into rows and columns to quickly spot top performing or underachieving markets. By contrast, much of the CRM software sold today is bulging with features, 90% of which most sales groups will never use.
At a recent trade show I heard a marketer from a CRM vendor brag that his software could use an OLAP cube as a data source and use it in multi-source queries or create incentive management plans across a multitude of industries. The sales manager prospect was glassy eyed, but the marketer seemed determined to explain everything about those obscure features. All too often sales managers suffer through CRM presentations that detail bells and whistles, rather than show how CRM can help sales reps close more business.
In my experience, sales managers are interested in simple, universal outcomes, such as consolidating data to make it more available to management and removing the busywork from the sales process so sales reps can spend more time selling. Sales managers may need to take charge of their communications with CRM vendors to be certain the conversation remains on track. When dealing with CRM vendors, sales managers should constantly keep the focus on basic questions:
– How will the software make my team and me more productive?
– Is this vendor truly responsive to its customers?
– Does this vendor specialize in high-quality service?
– Does this vendor provide the personal attention my firm will need?
– Can this vendor customize its solution so my sales team gets real value?
By keeping the focus on basics, sales managers help ensure that the CRM implementation remains on target. At the same time, CRM vendors must do a better job of articulating how their applications and solutions can address these basic questions. In short, vendors must help CRM customers find the right reasons to buy. That’s what back to basics is all about.