Monday, May 12, 2008

Empirical Evidence Builds

Sorry it has been so long since my last post. I have been very busy putting my theories into practice. Although I consider myself a general business consultant specializing in systems, I am finding the demand for CRM consulting is very high. When I sit down with a client to discover their business needs, CRM keeps rising to the top because every business needs CRM. There is simply no escaping the reality that many top business problems today can be solved by effective use of a CRM system. Interestingly, Project Management is higher on the list than I anticipated. I am now working with a program designed for small-to-mid sized businesses that incorporates project management into CRM. The program is Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager. In typical MS fashion, Outlook 2007 BCM is not without "issues." It is big, ram hungry, somewhat crash-prone and awkward at times. But this program that sells for under $200 as a stand alone, or comes standard in some Office packages, is surprisingly feature-rich. I have been using BCM myself for some time, and am increasingly impressed with the tools that have been included in this program. I am now implementing this program for six of my clients and the list is growing. But this blog is about "The CRM Dilemma" so I want to share some of the results I am getting in regards to using Outlook BCM as a PACT system.

Client #1
An industrial manufacturer that has a large customer base in a declining market. They had implemented Goldmine but had abandoned the program due to lack of usage by sales reps. I was asked to meet with the entire team to demo Outlook 2007 BCM. During my initial meeting with the business owner, he had shown me a cold call spread sheet he was implementing with his sales force to bring accountability to their daily activities. After explaining my CRM Dilemma research to him, he decided to accept my research and abandon his plan to add activity controls for his sales force. With his acceptance of my research, I was able to design my demo to focus on the following key business problems:

  • Knowing the right customers to target
  • Knowing when to target them
  • Knowing how to reach them
  • Knowing the right message for those customers
  • Knowing what is going on with your customers


  • Easily getting your message to customers
  • Gathering and viewing customer feedback
  • Linking customer communications to accounts and contacts
  • Managing projects internally
  • Easily communicating internally that which needs to be communicated, to advance the sale and excellence in customer service

When I presented my Outlook 2007 BCM demo, I also spoke of my research and the agreement by the business owner to not use the system to bring activity controls into the equation. As expected, the response from the sales reps to the demo was very positive. Being suspicious of such feedback, because I know from past experience that sales reps will not reveal their fears about CRM in front of their bosses, I met with each of them individually and as a group after the demo. I assured them our conversations would be kept confidential and I would not share their feedback with management. Although the fear of activity controls was still evident, they all stated that the demo I presented, along with assurances of the system being used for PACT only, gave them confidence the system would actually be a useful tool for them. I feel these conversations illustrate the following important points:

  1. Never assume the enthusiasm for CRM displayed by sales reps in a group setting, reveals what they are really feeling.
  2. The suspicion and fear of activity controls by sales reps is not overcome by words alone.
  3. PACT is much more acceptable to sales reps than traditional CRM

Over the next few days, I will post regarding the other implementations I am involved in.