In my blog, CRMs are about Business Process Management, I implied that without strong internal business processes, CRM implementations are doomed to fail, leading to the 55% to 70% failure rate reported by industry experts. I’ll try to support that claim with examples of success.

Due to limited space, let’s take a look at some very simple examples of matching internal processes to the right CRM system. Any system can handle simple information, such as contact management and account information, so let’s start with perhaps the simplest and most overlooked aspects of a CRM implementation: forecasting. How do you deliver your product or service and therefore how do you forecast it? Is it a single deliverable product or service or is it recurring business with deliveries recurring on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis? If it is recurring you need to implement a rolling forecast that is capable of managing recurring deliveries and variable pricing. You would be surprised how many customers need a rolling forecast, and yet purchased a system that does not support it.

Avoid a Critical Mistake : Make Sure you Pick the Right CRM system

Next let’s look at Opportunity tracking — simple enough. You have to know the value, when it will close, where it is in the sales process and what the likelihood you’ll win, i.e. confidence percentage. But what if:

  • You need to integrate details of your current sales process that has proven successful.
  • You want to integrate external sales partners (reps, distributors, integrators) at the opportunity level.
  • You have multiple products/services in a single opportunity and want to track their status separately.
  • You need to tie quotes, forecasts, registrations, specifications, statements of work, proposals, design splits, ship and debits to an opportunity.

Can the CRM you are considering handle these critical issues? More importantly, did you even think about asking these questions? My experience is that customers typically have not giving consideration to this detail.

The above example highlighted the area of external sales partners. Due to cost, the external partners are typically ignored. Fair enough, for having user accounts for hundreds of external partners can be cost prohibitive. The problem is the processes used to manage external partners are also removed from consideration when selecting a CRM system, only to find out later they are not supported. The automation of processes including quotes, registrations, and split commissions can provide a tremendous ROI even without having additional user accounts.

I recently worked with a semiconductor company who implemented one of the leading CRMs, paid for customization and went through an entire year of frustration because they did not consider how their business processes would integrate into the CRM. It could not implement a rolling forecast, could not manage external sales channel, and could not quote and sample as they were accustomed to doing. By taking business process integration into account upfront, they could have avoided a costly mistake and a year of frustration.

In the next blog in this series, I’ll discuss the above example in more detail and demonstrate how costly selecting the wrong CRM can be.

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