Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Don't Fall On Your Sword - Steps to Introducing "The CRM Dilemma"

With the large number of readers this blog and my research have attracted, I can only assume some of you are preparing to "Spread the news" regarding my research.

Since I consider myself somewhat of an expert on this subject, please accept advice that I wish someone had given me.

  1. Be strategic and move slowly

  2. Don't try to go it alone

  3. Build a strong team of supporters

"The CRM Dilemma" can itself be threatening, particularly if the CRM initiative hasn't failed yet. A slow, strategic approach to this massive change in corporate mindset, is required.

Don't Try To Go It Alone

If you have accepted my research findings, you now know the quickest way to ensure your sales force will undermine your CRM initiative, is to have "Low Card" activity controls included in your implementation. If your CRM program is currently implemented, but sitting unused by your sales force, the job of introducing "The CRM Dilemma", and my PACT solution, become somewhat easier. I have now developed situational analysis templates and refined the presentation of my research findings to assist in gaining acceptance of this phenomenon. I will address post-implementation and pre-implementation individually.

CRM Has Been Implemented, But Remains Unused

  • Review the original goals of the project with management
  • Focus on "High Card" benefits not being achieved (Customer feedback, planning tools, communications)
  • Gain agreement on the critical values that are missing because the system is not being used
  • Presentation of "The CRM Dilemma" research
  • Review the current CRM application with management, to identify "Low Card" activity recording elements
  • Present the PACT solution
  • Gain management agreement on the value of the components in PACT, versus CRM with activity controls
  • Gain agreement to conduct sales force workshop, to validate if "The CRM Dilemma" is in fact driving the lack of CRM usage
  • Conduct confidential, one-on-one interviews with sales reps and sales managers, that were involved in the original CRM implementation
  • Stress that the truth, not blame, is the goal of all interviews
  • Conduct one or more confidential focus group session(s) with sales reps, not involved in the original CRM implementation
  • Review the current CRM program with sales reps to identify "Low Card" reporting elements
  • Present and validate the PACT solution
  • Once the truth about "The CRM Dilemma" has been acknowledged by sales reps, the PACT solution can be reviewed honestly through the same lens.
  • Gain agreement on the value of the PACT solution
  • Discover and document sales planning informational requirements
  • Present aggregate interview results and PACT agreements to management
  • Plan the IT side of providing informational requirements of sales planning reports
  • Work towards relaunching CRM as PACT

The CRM Implementation Has Begun, But Not Been Completed

The same steps as above apply, but additional up-front work must be done to convince management of the inevitable failure of the program due to "The CRM Dilemma"

The CRM Implementation Has Not Begun

This one is tricky. Likely you are in a CRM consulting role, and you may be wondering how your clients will accept the inevitable failure of their CRM project. On the other hand, you will be the hero if you provide them with a valuable solution that will actually be used by the sales force. The best way to approach this I feel is to utilize me to present "The CRM Dilemma" research to clients. The question then will be:

"Do you think this will apply to your CRM implementation?" If they say no, you have done your honest due dilligence. If they say yes, once again you are the hero for saving what would have been an expensive disaster. At the very least, if the client feels "The CRM Dilemma" will not apply to them, you have opened the door to being brought back in to rescue them when their sales force is not using CRM.

As I said before, I have developed some great tools to assist you in bringing this new concept to businesses. With the high number of failed CRM initiatives out there, the opportunitity for success by "Taking the high road" is much larger, than ignoring this research and staying on the "Low road" to failure. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of any assistance.

Monday, March 24, 2008

"The Patient Has Died" - A Pre-mortem

I read a great article in the September, 2007 issue of HBR. In the article, Gary Klein writes on the value of determining the death of a project, before it starts.

Prior to my research on "The CRM Dilemma", a pre-mortem on my CRM project, would not have included the certainty of death that my research revealed. I now know that activity controls are like a surgeon carrying the plague.
(The analogy carries on from here and although it might be "Over the top," I had a lot of fun writing it and I believe the points are valid - AH)

If the infection is allowed anywhere near the patient, the patient will die a painful death. For years, few have suspected this "Deadly surgeon" but has instead blamed other people and circumstances. Over and over the operation is performed using different techniques and people, but someone keeps inviting the "deadly surgeon" into the room. The patient rarely recovers after the operation and most often dies.

There are groups of upcoming patients that suspect the "deadly surgeon," but they are afraid to say anything because he is so well liked and accepted by the medical team. The "deadly surgeon" has become such a part of the medical team that they can't imagine the operation would work without him. Yet up to 80% or more of these operations fail and the patient dies because no one will take the "deadly surgeon" out of the room.

So what do you do once the finger has been pointed squarely at the "deadly surgeon"?

Are you willing to take responsibility for asking him to sit out of a few operations?

There are people that you report to that really like the "deadly surgeon" and what he brings to each operation. They may not be willing to accept his culpability in all those past patient deaths.

You may end up with a severance package, writing a blog, and changing careers if they would rather keep their "angel of death" in the operating room.

But isn't the overall health of the patient more important? Now that you know CRM will die if activity controls are allowed in, are you willing to force "Him" to sit out a few operations?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

CRM and The Law of Unintended Consequences

When a mechanism is installed in the world, things can happen as a result, that the original creator of the mechanism may not have intended. These consequences may also run completely contrary to the original intent of the mechanism. There are three basic reasons for this phenomenon:

  1. Exploitation - The mechanism is used for purposes other than was originally intended. (Examples: GPS for finding the nearest Starbucks, or fertilizer being used in bomb making)

  2. Avoidance - Because the mechanism exists, people change their behaviors (Examples: Tax avoidance strategies, driving habits in a GPS tracked vehicle)

  3. Culture Shift - The mechanism has created a cultural expectation and people come to expect things they otherwise would not expect (Example: Cell phones)

Here are a three classic examples:
  • Sophisticated alarms and immobilizers on vehicles, have resulted in more violent and dangerous carjackings, because the thieves needs to have keys directly from drivers in order to steal vehicles.
  • The popularity of cell phones has been putting pay-phone companies out of business, while forcing more people to get cell phones because of the shortage of available pay-phones.
  • Telephone systems adding prompts, ie: "For customer service, press 3" have resulted in less customer service communications being done over the phone
CRM is very interesting because it has had unintended consequences due Exploitation, Avoidance, and Culture Shift.


  • Credit card data from massive amounts of customers is stolen from a major retailer's database
  • An employee takes customer data when moving to a competitor
  • Data provided by a customer results in the customer being "Value classified" in no receiving a lower level of service than before the data was provided


  • Consumers not wishing to provide personal information, intentionally forgo "Loyalty Club" discounts provided by retailers.
  • Users avoid CRM due to fear of the information being used in performance measures
  • False email addresses are created in order to avoid providing an avenue to send marketing materials
  • Callers press "0" to avoid phone prompts and go directly to the switchboard

Culture Shift

  • Consumers expect their contact information to be transferred along with their call and remembered for the next time
  • The details of a transaction should be available long after the transaction is complete

None of the examples given above have been taken through their full progression. Avoidance is fascinating in that there is usually an escalation for each avoidance:

  • Retailers create larger pricing disparities for those refusing to join their "Loyalty club"
  • Fake email addresses, led to requiring email verification before the services are delivered.
  • Because people learned that pressing "0" on their phone, would connect them with the switchboard and avoid the prompts, companies disabled this feature, forcing the prompts to be used
  • Companies create performance measures for CRM users, that are based on CRM usage as a performance measure

Do you see the pattern here? That which was created to make things better, is perceived as making things worse, by those that were supposed to see an improvement. Avoidance of that which was created to improve service, leads to escalations, in order to force those that are avoiding the improvements, to accept that which they see as negative.

CRM was not created to become an instrument of fear for customers or employees.