CRM a la Rick

I’m surprised that no one had any comments on this post or this post. I hope that you enjoy my different perspective on CRM.

Counting v. Creating Customers:
My first CRM system consisted of a supply of 3×5 index cards, a 3 inch card file to keep them in, a set of 1-31 dividers and a set of month dividers. I wrote down everything that ever happened with every prospect whether or not they ever became a client, then I filed it by the date that I wanted to follow up with that prospect or client again. I can’t remember one time that I counted how many cards I had. I do remember that I had to buy bigger files. Eventually, I joined the electronic age, but I still have those cards.


Measuring the Wrong Thing: I’ve never been good at waiting for a prospect to self-select me. I selected them. I wrote their name on the index card when I got them as a referral, got their business card at a networking event, or took their name from a list, newspaper article, etc…………then I contacted them. My referral tree had many bushy branches. I measured the fullness of the branches and inspected each branch and sub-branch regularly to make sure that the branches continued to grow, multiply, and branch out.

Structured v. Unstructured Data: The micro-business owner sometimes gets information but forgets to record it. If you’ve ever lost a non-published number, forgotten what the decision on a minor detail was, or the date that a conversation happened, you know how important it is to record everything.

Ease-of-Use (for IT folks only): This is key. Once I wrote a name on an index card, it drove me. My CRM system drove my business. It scheduled follow up. It was automatic. I showed up, the card told me what I did, should do, when to come back.

“Feeding the Monster”: Again, if the record has a complete history, with a recommendation for who, what, when, etc comes next and room to take a recommendation from the salesperson, salespeople will not only not resist, but need to use the system.

Transactional Systems v. Solution/Relationship Systems: A small business owner that’s selling complex solutions rather than simple transactions may have dozens of prospects at various stages in the sales process at any given time. And the process may take weeks, months to complete. It may not be unusual for the owner to have several interactions during the course of a day. The owner doesn’t have the time to open up a system to record the interaction, so entry into the CRM system has to be as easy as taking notes during the conversation.


I hope that my “tongue in cheek” comments are taken for what they are intended to be. Out-dated and over-simplified. However, they do draw attention to the two points that I wanted to make.


1.)     CRM doesn’t sell anything. It’s a tool. It might bring more information to the salesperson from the marketing effort, but it’s probably not going to close a complex sale.

2.)     From an owner’s perspective, CRM has to give me what I want when I want it. How much business have I gotten from a center of influence in the past year? What’s my closing ratio on prospects that I meet at a particular networking event? How many customers read my blog before they buy? After they buy?


Thanks, again, Brian.

CRM – Customer Relationship Management

Brian Halligan posted a very interesting article entitled Why CRM Initiatives Fail at Small Businesses and Startups. Everybody needs to read this. Small business owners that are trying to gain a handhold or trying to reach the next level as well as larger companies that “think” they’re doing OK while they’re losing market share one prospect at a time. I will post a response to every underlined topic in his post, but how about if you read it first, form your own opinion and comment on his site or here. Incidentally, make sure you read the other comments to his post including the one by Dave Kurlan.

Blogging for Business

Continuing with the guest blogger idea.

Dharmesh says gives five reasons Why Every Startup Should Have A Blog. After reading them. I would change the title to “Why Every Serious Startup Should Have A Blog”.

Notice also that he’s not saying advertise on your blog for co-founders, employees, customers or investors. I interpreted it as impress them with your content.

If you dare to read further at,, or you will find very few “plugs”. Dharmesh consistently shares information and opinions. Seldom does he say how awesome he is, what great things his company is doing, or advertise for something that he needs.

So, quoting from–counting.aspx:

                              ….if you’d like to be a guest blogger, tell me!

Update: Brian posted his 10 Myths today here.

Educated consumers need better salespeople

Last night, Brian Halligan posted this comment in response to my post.




I am enjoying your blog. I’d be interested in your thoughts on the changing nature of b2b shopping /selling by the advent of the internet/Google. It seems to me that the shape of all companies’ funnels is dramatically different today than it was just five years ago. …It seems to me the role of the b2b salesperson has changed (i.e. the buyer is far better educated by the time he ends up having a conversation with a sales rep.




Then, today, he sent me this email.




Hi Rick, I give some thought to the issue in the first two bullet points of this posting.  I’m looking forward to your thoughts tonight…Brian.




The monkey wrench example is perfect. Plumbers know how much they should be. It’s small dollars. They click. Use a credit card. Sign when it’s delivered. Very transactional. But as luck would have it, I spent all afternoon at a “Customer Appreciation” golf tournament sponsored by the Bank of New England. Among others, I met the CEO of a corrugated box company, the Director of Marketing of a major environmental cleanup company, the managing partner of the largest law firm in the area, and the CFO of a 100 year old construction company that routinely builds multi-million dollar building for the likes of Harvard and MIT. I had multiple conversations, but one was with the construction CFO in front of the attorney. The CFO’s company was having a problem getting noticed by the colleges in the Worcester area. The attorney happened to know which local contractors typically worked at each of the schools. Why? Relationship? Reputation? A preference for local contractors? All of the above. The contractor has a website, but his Google rating won’t help him get happy schools to switch. The fact that I introduced the attorney who knows all of these schools and the contractor and made them exchange business cards might help. Whatever happens here, it’s gonna depend on sales skills, relationships and CRM, not CMR.




I didn’t play. I marshalled. So, I got to eavesdrop a lot. Every bank employee was about who they’re talking to. What the prospect’s needs are. What center of influence was involved. I know that Bank of America has a website, but I was listening to salespeople.




Finally, Brian, as you know Hubspot is working with Dave Kurlan. Think about how that happened. Did Dave find your website? Or did Mark call me and say, “Hey, Dad! Hubspot has something that your clients will be interested in. Then I allowed him to use his relationship with me to have a conversation with Jim who said to Dave, “You should look at this.”




The internet allows prospects to search, read, research, then call and from what I’ve seen, Hubspot does a great job at making sure that Hubspot clients get proper placement and attention. At some point the prospect either decides to buy (like in the monkey wrench example) or they decide that they need to have a conversation. It’s Hubspot’s job to get them to call Hubspot’s client first. If the prospect doesn’t talk to someone who can develop a relationship, determine or create a compelling need, and eventually close a deal, they are going to continue shopping.

You made a couple of other points that I would like to address later, but here’s a question.

What if, during the prospect’s search process, in the middle of Googling, after he checked out your website and two of your competitors, when he’s actually in the middle of checking out your third competitor’s website……..What if one of your salespeople calls them and asks, “Have you ever had any issues with…?