Software CRMs or Customer Relationship Management systems are truly misunderstood in the marketplace. Having engaged with hundreds of customers, I am still surprised that the prevailing thought is that implementing a CRM will somehow magically improve issues they have finding, developing, and building partnerships with their customers. Truth be known, CRMs really have very little to do with managing customer relationships. The real value gained from a CRM  is the management of internal information and business processes. This is more of a Business Process Management (BPM) solution that happens to be focused on the sales process. The definition of BPM : Business process management (BPM) is a management approach focused on aligning all aspects of an organization with the wants and needs of clients. It is true that, when we are able to gain control and access our internal information, we can then better serve our customers and hence improve their perception and our relationship. The improved customer relationship is simply one of many ancillary benefits  that are obtained by implementing and utilizing the right CRM system, but it is not what the system is designed to do.

So why be nit-picking about what CRMs are or should be? The number one challenge I face, when engaging with a new customer, is changing their perception and therefore their vision of what is important when choosing and implementing a CRM system. This is an industry problem. I am sure everyone has seen the statistics that 55% to 70% of all CRM implementations fail. Blame is typically split between bad tools or customer issues relating to poor training, poor upper management support, not following best practices, etc. In my honest opinion, the majority of failed CRM implementations are doomed from the beginning. Why? The right considerations were not made upfront, when the CRM vendor was chosen. The right planning was not done, the right questions were not asked, or the right internal processes were not focused on. Changing the customer’s perception and goals away from managing customer relationships and toward improving internal processes to focus the organization on winning new business increases the chances of success dramatically.

This is the first in a series of blogs where my colleagues and I will address key factors in creating successful CRM, oops BPM, implementations.

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