When we first meet with a potential customer, one of the topics we discuss is “why now?” Though a single question, it can have several different meanings depending on the client and where they are in their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) journey.
For clients new to CRM systems—in general or Salesforce specifically—we are trying to learn what they hope to gain and why those improvements are important to them now. There are some common themes to the replies. Most clients want better visibility into their sales pipeline, so they can understand what they are selling today and can project what they will sell during the next few months. Many also describe wanting better reporting, analytics and dashboards. Some know the potential benefits of process efficiencies and workflow automation. Other do not know what they want—just that they need to be more organized.
When a client already has an existing CRM system, the needs we hear are usually more specific. These clients often want to enhance the capabilities of their system by integrating with other tools. For example, they might want to integrate Salesforce and QuickBooks to reduce the need for duplicate data entry, improve accuracy and collect accounts receivables more quickly. Or, they may need help with user adoption. CRM systems are only effective if users want to (and do!) use them consistently. So, we often make minor modifications to improve the user experience and provide end user training.
What is missing from these discussions? Often, the answer is a focus on customers. It is called a Customer Relationship Management system, after all.
A client recently shared a story about why she chose to invest in Salesforce. A few months ago, she walked into a discussion thinking she was meeting a prospective new customer. Like most first conversations, it began with some pleasantries about the weather and local sports teams. It quickly turned into a less pleasant conversation, though, when she mentioned that she hoped to be able to do business with the customer. The response she received was “Actually, we have been your customer for over ten years.”
Had this client been able to login to a CRM system from her tablet at the hotel that morning, or her smartphone in the taxi on the way to the meeting, she would have known the prospect was indeed a long-standing, excellent customer. She also could have become familiar with their account, including recent purchases, any outstanding issues and potential expansion opportunities. She would have avoided the embarrassment of her misstep. Even though she was able to think quickly—and thankfully retained the customer—the meeting was not a productive use of time or resources.
Remembering your customers when implementing, designing and using your CRM system is key to maximizing its value. While we all need to be better organized and have improved visibility regarding what we have been doing and where we are going, we cannot get results without our customers.