This post is brought to you by &Mine’s CRM Software Solution Team at CRMandMine.com
Your CRM Software choice is probably the most complex your business will ever make. I’m sure you’ve heard that line, “every company is becoming a technology company”. I couldn’t agree more. Successful companies these days are challenged with integrating technology faster, optimising business through software and hardware, and continually reviewing the changing landscape of tech opportunities to better themselves.
From a lead generation, marketing and web perspective, this is already forced upon most companies. They know the media mix has moved from traditional sources and grows ever reliant on new media, like social, Google, influencers, mobile devices, etc. We consider these external leavers of an organization; things in the market that effect the success of a business. Digitally speaking, all markets are getting down to the core of attribution marketing – certainly where we position all our services for clients, ROI is essential for improvement. It is easy to measure the effectiveness of any channel today, how each click or comment translates into a lead or sale. However, growth is often only considered when viewed from these external returns and a market share perspective.
But most companies aren’t looking at themselves critically enough internally. Most companies can grow enormously simply by improving HOW they conduct business, and while products are often fixed-priced commodities, most businesses don’t realise that the fidelity of measurement and performance indicators can be easily built into the processes of a business – how it manages its team and clients – and that is where incredible benefits can be realised. With the advent of the connected web, or the Internet of Things (IoT), software is fast becoming the new business optimiser. With the right tool or tools, you can measure and improve the everyday and human aspects of your team, their time, how you price and how you manage client interactions. The IoT is the convergence of agile and smart software, and most importantly it is initiative. We are concerned too many clients have software paradigms that are stuck in the mid 80s or early 90s. It’s nearly 2020, people, your own software should run simpler than your mobile!
BUT – and this is the big issue I have with business software – the promise of great software seems like it is everywhere. Which platforms actually deliver? Most seem to come at an incredible burden, resource/team overhead and cost to an organisation… and that promise always falls short. Customer Relationship Software (CRM) and Business Management Software are due for a disruption. Why? Because that promise of software benefiting an organisation should be absolute, clear from the outset and a gain; intuitive. We’ve been providing CRM software promising and delivering business disruption and growth for over a decade. From what we deliver and how we compare to competitors in the marke place promising the same old thing over and over, we’ve come up with our top 10 things you need out of your software to run your business more effectively.
So when considering a new CRM software, upgrades or even just tweaks to your existing business software platforms, these are the Top 10 CRM Traps and what to avoid:
Beware the drive-by salesman, who will tell you how great their platform is, how many clients use it (or are more likely stuck with it, or scared to move) and how big they are. Our CRM software will change your business, everything will be better; it can do everything. No out-of-the-box software can possible work for all businesses, and typically you’ll need more and more training to understand all the features you’ll never use. Worse, the feature-rich platforms are generic and the devil is in the detail as they say. You need to drill down on many very specific cases which will significantly help your business and determine if the salesman actually know their stuff, or if they have to go and get an answer from someone more technical and less business savvy to answer your question. Beware the gap between the flashy salesman and what the software will actually deliver for you.
Any customisation to a major CRM platform requires coding. Simple logic changes like adding an alert for a specific event comes with significant programming overheads. Often third parties are coding these changes external to the core platform and trying to ‘make it work’ or ‘integrate using their API’. While these are standard practices for traditional software, they come at a high cost, typically take way too much time, and it can be like pulling teeth (both costly and painful) to get anything new added to your software.
Often, it is even worse than that. Since you cannot change the core system you’ve installed, there are actually programming barriers that stop you adding new functionality to your CRM software. “Oh, we cannot change that in the system, it is part of [e.g.] Salesforce [or] SAP, we have to write a work-around for that“. Which means slower software, expensive code or basically, it goes into the to hard basket.
When you buy a CRM platform from most enterprise providers, you don’t actually own the code, you are licensing it, and therefore you have to keep paying for those licenses forever. Essentially you are stuck into their payment model. Even enhancements you make the system are reliant on it, so you don’t own the CRM as an asset. We build CRM software which licenses the entire core platform as part of the build, so when you upgrade or improve your CRM, your business owns the whole platform as an asset. Stop spending on on-going license fees and direct that money into constant software improvements. No ongoing costs means everything you do spend adds value to your bottom line and business value. Plus, when you own it, you can sell it: you are selling an asset, not a cash flow cost.
This one kills me the most. Is there an instruction manual or training for your Smart TV, mobile phone, iPad, web-browser or new versions of them? Unless you are part of the retiree set or seeing a computer for the first time after living on a island for the past two decades, software, just like an ATM, should be intuitive. From the first run to any update, why should training be required beyond some common courtesy tips? Software should be intuitive, so that people with any small amount of background on computers, mobiles or iPads, should require NO training on your CRM, no matter how complex the platform is. This reduces costs, simplifies the system and creates an environment where software enhances our team’s working environments, and doesn’t deter them from work.
Any time training is needed, any time there is something clunky in your system that the team is annoyed at, any time a task is required to be done manually but should be automated in the CRM, any time there is a bottleneck in the CRM between team members or process – all these challenges and more increase the hidden costs of operating a business. It is more than the obvious ones as well: general frustration, lack of clarity, misplaced or over-prioritised events and data being pushed into the CRM are all indications your platform isn’t right for you anymore (or to begin with).
One of the big deals the salesmen makes of all software packages is how many features they have. This is actually the opposite of how you should be looking at CRM, and most software packages. You don’t want hundreds of features that, (a) you’ll never use and (b) you have to navigate around, turn off or learn about just to avoid! This is a huge problem with out of the box software and why most if it is NOT intuitive. In the end, your business actually runs on a finite set of events and interactions. Those are the most important to your business, they are the ones you need to have, and there is no out of the box software system in the world that handles them as you do (or as you should). Avoid costly features you’ll never use and choose a CRM platform that more perfectly fits you now, and can grow with you in the future.
You don’t often think about CRM in terms of if it will do the things you need it to, and how well those things are optimised for your business. As mentioned above, these usually come with a very high overhead and you are building onto a platform you’ll never own. But the hardest part is that to do things well in your CRM, you need two things.
1) Aggressive commercial thinking about HOW to perform an event in the CRM, especially to do with optimising so it is intuitive and an overall smart time-saver. This must be considered in line with your business. Simply put: you request changes, but is there a better way to do it in the software?
2) When these tasks are handed over to programming, who is thinking about the little micro details of the task, and how it will effect or improve the overall system operation and user interface? For truly commercial thinking in CRM, the devil is in the detail, both on a macro business level and microelements within the CRM – like database fields, buttons, forms, variables, or record level. Who is providing the critical thinking to ensure both of these pathways are optimised, continually reduce the overall bottlenecks of a system and – again – user intuitive?
A good CRM software platform you own and develop should be built in a technology that is mainstream and open source. That means, if you don’t like one development company, or want to try another solution like outsourcing, or you’ve grown to a size that means it is time to have an internal team on it, those choices should be easy. You should be in control of the choices and market options available when developing your CRM. If the money you are spending on the platform (and this goes for new development and license costs too) is not returning a clear ROI, it is time to assess another solution. CRM should not be a burden at any point; it should be a liberator and one of your strongest growth catalysts your business has.
Often I hear clients talk about CRM software as though this is as good as it gets. Why settle for that? You can own your software, you can make it smarter, you can do all of this cost effectively, and you can stop paying ongoing license costs. Don’t settle for as good as it gets vs. as good as it can be. You can actually get ahead of your competition and disrupt the industry you are in. Remember, “every company is a technology company”? Well the ones that survive have the best technology, that means owning it.
We build CRM software for business, with no crap, straight to the core truth that minimises costs, improves business performance and provides insights and clarity you didn’t think was possible. Intuitive interfaces support functions you actually need – no more, no less. CRM that works on every device and anywhere in the world… as long as you remember this is about improving your work life balance, not eating into it.
Please visit our website crmandmine.com if you’d like to know more and see if your business qualifies for one of our strategic sessions.
Not only is Michael professional but he is also a great friend to have in your court. He is balanced in his advice, fair in his quotes and has the best twitter feed for all things tech - i highly recommend you follow him and also hire him!