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CRM Journey
Looking at CRM Software Options

What's Your CRM Journey?

CRM - Customer intimacy revolving around Marketing, Sales, and Service. Now let’s get down to the details. Finally, you’re in the executive suite. Congratulations – you’re the new VP of Sales. You’ve separated yourself from the pack. You need software to manage your team and support your success. You have choices - implement a CRM solution, a Sales Force Automation or SFA system or simple contact management.

quote Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb. quote

- Sir Winston Churchill

How do you decide between these? What’s right for your business?
It depends upon where you are in the CRM journey. How does the CRM journey begin?

As the new VP of Sales, what keeps you up at night? When a Wal-Mart superstore manager glances over his shoulder, what’s in sight? That Red and White Target logo inching closer with every new campaign. How do you make inroads on a behemoth like the world’s largest retailer, the index forecaster of sales? Easy, for Tarjay - Do what they do better than they do it.

Win clients – Personalized marketing to your target group.
Keep clients – Service, service, service – know that individual not the masses.
Sell –draw them in, get to know them, love ‘em.

Every successful business follows a Client Relationship Management journey.

How does it start?

For most, the journey to CRM begins insidiously, with simple contact management, good old Outlook. A data repository for basic information - name, addresses, cell numbers, a myriad history of emails, supplemented by a file folder with invoices, sales by month, and sporadic correspondence. Works but barely. You’re always the tail wagging the dog.

When it becomes completely unmanageable, and you lose that one particular customer, the one who’s been loyal from the get go - you implement procedures designed to prevent errors and losses. For most companies in existence today, that’s the CRM journey: Contact Management to Sales Force Automation (SFA) and then to true Client Relationship Management. All changes forced by growth pains.

Alternatively, you’re smart enough to recognize and plan for growth without pain; you cut straight to the end and begin your business entity with enterprise CRM. Small to mid-size companies, unless they have the vision of Howard Schultz (Founder of Starbucks) and the necessary funds, ordinarily don’t invest in a CRM system, until it becomes impossible to function properly. Why? Because in the past, CRM systems costs were beyond the reach of small business and even the mid-market.

With the advent of moderately priced and rapidly deployed web hosted CRM offerings, you don’t have to make mistakes. You can avoid that painful journey, and have the edge on your competitor. Still, most startups won’t take that route. Why? You have to know your business processes before you can implement and automate them.

The majority of new businesses start without a business plan or have a vague one, unless it’s a franchise operation, requires financing or involves some sort of partnership. Very few entrepreneurs take the time to detail business processes; they get on the phone and start selling, or a hobby turns into a business, like Mrs. Field’s Cookies. One often stated definition of an entrepreneur describes the process brilliantly.

A successful entrepreneur is someone who doesn’t know how to swim, jumps into the middle of the lake anyway, and figures out how to get to safety before he drowns.

The lesson here is that pain and crisis forces change. However, in this technology rich age, there are other paths even for a startup. Web hosted CRM is cost justifiable even for a startup. IT (information technology) staff and large dollar capital expenditures are no longer prerequisites to achieving CRM strategies.
We know what CRM is – true Customer Intimacy – Marketing, Sales, and Service. We also know the path or the journey most business takes to CRM, and we know there are options: Contact Management, Sales Force Automation, or Client Relationship Management.

Continue the journey to further explore your options ...  More CRM Journey

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