For the last twenty years, organizations have invested billions of dollars in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions, as well as their follow-on complementary solutions in marketing automation.  Like many big technology efforts, however, the results and the corresponding lift to the business in bottom line revenue have been mixed.  This is not because of the value the solutions provide, but often because of two other reasons:  1) a lack of sales process optimization before the CRM implementation, and 2) failure to harness the power these solutions provide.

It is wise to review and improve existing processes, cleanse data, and use   implementation as an opportunity to step back and take an un-blinking look at how your company engages with the market. Failure to do this results in poor habits and invites ineffective methods to defeat the purpose.   A prudent exercise is to review your company’s existing pipeline and ask:

  • Does the composition of targeted prospect/industry segments align with company’s strategy/CEO’s vision?
  • Do the pipeline percentages reflect an accurate depiction of the close rate?
  • Is there a section of the pipeline that balloons or where many prospects stall?
  • How significant is the deadwood (aging or untouched opportunities still listed)?
  • How often (and how rigorously) is the pipeline reviewed by the executive team?

Then, apply the lessons to identify where and how the sales process should be improved prior to implementation of a new CRM, and put into place governance practices to ensure the new processes are being followed and the data is used to better target, pursue, and acquire new customers, and improve the reporting capabilities for proper forecasting, sales mentoring and coaching, and company budgeting.

Is it the right solution for your company?

The introduction of “cloud-based” software solutions for both large scale enterprises and small and medium sized business has transformed the ability to identify, engage, acquire, and support customers during the last two decades.  With Salesforce’s emergence in early 2000, the improvements in ease of use, flexibility, and availability of prospect and customer data provides large scale efficiencies in sales management and transparency in financial forecasting and reporting.

Nonetheless, I’m always shocked at how many companies blindly choose Salesforce as their customer relationship management and marketing solution, just as their predecessors chose Salesforce’s competitors 10-15 years ago. We’re all familiar with the idiom that “No one gets fired for choosing IBM.”   That may have been the case but there is no need to overpay or acquire solutions your company doesn’t need.

The customer relationship management and marketing automation segment has produced many solid solutions which may better suit the needs of most businesses at a much improved price point.  For example:

  • Salesforce’s baseline, entry-level package will cost a company $3,000 (pre-paid)/$3600(monthly) on an annual basis but only allows up to 10 users;
  • A baseline package from a competitor is half the per-user cost with no restriction on the number of users; and
  • The difference is starker as the capabilities increase, e.g., the “enterprise” edition of Salesforce is five times the cost of the competition.

These cost differences don’t account for the capabilities and flexibility differences most new competitors provide. Neither do they consider that companies overpay for Salesforce functionality they do not use, or they add additional marketing automation solutions that could have been addressed with a single solution.  Dollars add up and unabated overspend continues, unabated, as most controllers can attest.

If your business has a CRM and/or marketing solution and you’re uncertain of its effectiveness, a technology-focused, sales process optimization assessment can quickly provide insight into what solution(s) are best suited from a capability and cost perspective.  The ROI can be realized in less than a year, just from licensing alone, let alone the additional improved efficiencies in sales pull- through and reduced duplication of efforts.

Time spent on assessing your needs will heed Ben Franklin’s cautionary advice, “a penny saved is a penny earned”. Feel free to call for our assessment help to improve your results.