What is CRM?

A: Customer Relationship Management

What does that mean? Its an age old question that can get some people very hot under the collar.

Originally, back in 1995 the software was developed for sales people. Like all the best ideas it was a simple one, computerise the card index box & diary that every sales person lived and died by.

Each sales person had a card index box with card in A-Z order. Each card usually had a business contact card or cards attached, as and when necessary the index card would be written on with a note or observation, sometimes with a date and sometimes not! As the card filled up a new card would be stapled to the original and the notes would start again. If and when the sales person left the company he or she would endeavour to take their contacts with them, either by taking the box or cards. You always knew if a salesperson was on the move when they stayed after hours overworking the photocopier!

Who owns that data?

And so the first CRM was born incorporating a client database and diary system. This then created a whole new set of issues. While management now were regaining control and ownership of data it was totally reliant on the sales person to populate the data into the correct fields and keep the database up to date. Sharing information was not the natural habit of a sales person and as a result the CRM system started to become mandatory in how it must be used, and the data that was required. Sales Managers became report driven showing sales forecasts with pretty graphics. Sales people were asked to clean client data, find out more and more information and do everything instead of what they were employed for! The Salesperson had become a slave to the system, the snooze button their only relief from the never ending reminders of the to do list.

"I have rarely come across a CRM implementation that has done what the client wanted!"

It's funny, the mantra of all sales, is to keep it short and simple. And yet many companies have been seduced into very expensive systems that are still a work in progress and do not deliver what is required. Trying to fit American developed systems into the UK marketplace where the system is designed around manufacturing rather than our predominant service sector. Support from a Californian based help desk that is only available for a couple of late evening hours a day. Developers that have no interest in the UK market place or any understanding of how we do business!

Support of a Business Critical Application like CRM is vital from the UK.

So, now we are nearly in 2011 and what lessons have been learnt? Unfortunately, not many.
Companies are still being seduced into overpriced systems with the promise they can make the sale for them, but ultimately and sadly they don't do what is required. They rarely value the skill of the Salesperson and have forgotten the mantra!

Keep It Short and Simple!

Mainstream CRM products have had to become the all singing, all dancing, everything for everyone. "The jack of all systems but master of none". What happened to being driven by revenue?

We at FirstContact CRM think it's vital to listen to what the client wants from a system before defining what it is.
By definition all customers are different with various demands that are unique to each client. There is, however, a common theme that runs through Communication. By keeping all the customer data in one place that can be access from anywhere at any time, gives the client complete control of information and therefore the client can make informed judgments and correct decisions which in turn can only increase revenue.

At last! Driven by revenue!

In return the customer feels they are looked after and are valued which maintains customer loyalty and retention. This again, can only increase revenue.

Revenue again! That can only mean more Profit.

We know that by keeping a CRM system simple and user friendly the data can be entered correctly and used effectively. The salesperson is now incentivised to share their information because it makes them more efficient and that means they make more sales.

Increased Sales! Higher Revenue! More Profit!

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