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.