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CRM Journey
Understanding CRM

What is CRM?

Anyone who’s in sales has heard the acronym – and probably even knows what it stands for – Client Relationship Management (or alternatively Customer Relationship Management) – but what does it mean? Analyze each word and it seems easy, managing a relationship with a client. The dictionary definition of relationship is connection, association, or involvement. But, that’s not what CRM has evolved into, management of a vague connection to a client.

quote Assumptions are the termites of relationships. quote

- Henry Winkler

In today’s world, CRM can be defined by two words. Customer Intimacy. Intimacy – that’s right, pursuing a path to know your customer as well as you know your spouse, significant other, or children. Intimacy.

Let’s define it in real life terms. You’re Randy Shannon, Head Coach at the University of Miami, and you’re determined to win the next BCS National Football Championship. Your greatest chance of success depends upon recruiting a senior from Thomas Cardinal High School. Your rival recruiter is the University of Florida’s (UF) Urban Meyers, the man who won the last BCS Championship. UF's reputation has skyrocketed since winning both Basketball and Football Championships in the same year. An unprecedented, record-breaking feat. The senior would have to be nuts not to sign with UF given the promising media exposure for the coming season.

How are you going to win your senior from the Gators? What edge do you have on Coach Meyers? Every college wants him, but Meyers is strutting around as if the senior’s securely in his back pocket, and it’s crunch time. You need to know your senior so well that you can offer that one perk, or combination of influencing factors, he desires to win him for the Hurricanes. No single team has ever won the BCS two years in a row, and you’re not about to let the senior go to UF.

The senior lives in Gator mad Tallahassee. Shannon studies the senior, interviews his friends, neighbors, and meets with his mom. She prefers to have her son close, and freely admits the ‘Gators have the edge'. Shannon knows he’s behind the eight ball on this deal and assigns a team to observe the senior. He learns the senior visits his elderly grandmother weekly and decides to pay her a visit. The senior has a younger brother who is autistic, and his grandmother confides he needs specialized teachers knowledgeable about the condition.

It’s one thing to know what your customer wants, but you still have to sell it to them. Shannon gleans from sources that the Gators have offered to extend the senior’s health insurance to cover his mother and brother. Shannon discovers that the senior’s mother had approached Coach Meyers on the matter. Urban Meyers worked with university bureaucrats to extend Florida State’s medical program to cover almost all the costs of the specialized tutoring.

Shannon knows nothing about autism, but he knows Doug Flutie who actually beat the ‘Canes with that sweet Hail Mary pass in 1984 the day after Thanksgiving. Help – as in Customer Service or Support– the second aspect of CRM. Shannon reaches out to Flutie and learns about the condition (in case you didn’t know – his young son is autistic and he established The Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism Inc. in honor of him). After several discussions with Flutie, Shannon works with his Education Department and Flutie, to fund a minor in Skills for Kids with Learning Disabilities with a focus on Autism. One unique aspect of the program will be actual classroom experience with autistic children.

Then Shannon sets up a meeting with the senior’s mom at her home. Taking a personal interest, Flutie accompanies him to the meeting. As planned, the senior arrives later, and Flutie and Shannon go through the program with mother and son. The senior asks one question at the end. “Can I take those education courses too?”

Whom do you think he signed with?

Ah, the concerto, a solo instrument backed by an orchestra. Marketing researches the client and focuses on a particular need. Service or Support extend the knowledge of the need. Sales puts it all together to meet the need. The result, Customer Satisfaction, the solo instrument, supported by the orchestra.  

It comes down to … Customer Intimacy.

All right, we’re belaboring the point, but do you get it? Only if you know your client, can you sell to him or her, hit the right keynotes, and deliver that closing finale. Marketing, Service, and Sales working together.

Assumptions are the termites of relationships.

Meyers assumed the prestige and media exposure of his BCS win would win him the day. He didn’t bother to build the senior’s profile, to dig deeper. What do you assume about your clients? First impressions tend to permeate perceptions. Without consistent data gathering, building that client profile, a business cannot change its approach to a customer as the customer changes. The senior will eventually marry, have children, and buy a home. Today, he’s a college kid focused on sports and his brother. Five years from now, he may be a father, a husband. We all hear of colossal failures of firms that have been in business for years. Why do firms like K-Mart and Winn Dixie falter? They didn’t realize their market, their customers were changing their needs, and adapt.

That was your two minute CRM introduction. Continue the journey ...  More CRM Journey

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