Organizational Process, Behavior, and Technology are Equally Critical for CRM Success

Adopting a customer-centered marketing strategy sounds simple. Focusing on the customers’ needs, values and expectations, and subsequently providing value for the customers is a goal to which many companies aspire. But too few deliver. The key to the successful implementation of a customer-centered strategy comes with the realization that technology alone cannot solve any problem without the people and processes in place to make it actionable. The reality is that most companies don’t have an integrated infrastructure – technology, people and processes – in place to support such an initiative.

Nearly every company focuses on the technology component of the infrastructure and assigns the people and process portions to a lesser level of importance. Technology rarely prevents a customer-centered initiative from being successful. More often than not, human behavior and organizational processes are the inhibitors to success.

So how can you ensure success with such an initiative?

Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Have your employees proven themselves willing to change the way they work, if necessary, to provide better service to your customers?
  • Is your entire company well trained in the art of customer service and is everyone customer-focused – regardless of how frequently they come in contact with customers?
  • Are your business processes designed with your customers in mind?
  • Do you have all the data about your customers that you need?
  • Are your systems capable of supporting your goals and objectives relative to your customers’ expectations?

If you have found that you can’t answer “yes” to each of these questions, you are not alone. Nevertheless, you’ve taken the first step in recognizing and accepting your company’s shortfall relative to customer relationship management (CRM) capabilities. To get back on track, keep in mind the three dimensions of CRM: technology, human behavior, and organizational processes.

Technology

If you are going to be effective in implementing a CRM strategy, you will need many different data sets – not just about your customers and their purchase patterns, but also about your products and services, your prospective customers, your competitors, the market, the economy and perhaps the regulatory environment. Next, quality technical capabilities are a must. To be most effective, you will need...

Introducing the Working Life Project Podcast

Since December, I've been putting a lot more time on my latest project, the Working Life Project podcast. As you might imagine, there's a lot that goes into launching a new podcast and that, in part, explains the lack of content on my blog lately.

It's also no surprise, then, that it took me a little while to put the finishing touches on the new website and work through some production issues. 

My goal with the Working Life Project is to capture the stories of America's entrepreneurs and small business owners. It's a conversational/interview podcast where I hope to find those things that make them tick and share, in their own words and sometimes with pictures.

On April 2, I launched the first full-length episode with Ahna Hendrix of Anahata Swimwear. I interviewed David Harris of David Harris Magic for episode two, and later this week I'll launch release the third interview. New episodes will be released every other week throughout the first 10-episode season.

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you may recall I interviewed several entrepreneurs for my graduate work in entrepreneurship. This was a catalyst for bringing my 2010 idea for this project into the 21st century with a podcast. So, a couple of those interviews will make it into this first season in some way.

I hope you'll listen and share the podcast with friends. You can learn more and listen to the podcast online at workinglifeproject.com. You can also subscribe at iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher, SoundCloud, or wherever you get your podcasts.

How to Develop a Sales Plan for Your Entrepreneurial Venture

Sales planning is a combination of both strategies and tactics necessary to achieve sales revenue growth within the company. The purpose of sales planning is to determine the expected volume of future sales to support business operations. A sales plan should be based in part on historical performance, but also factor a stretch or performance goal that considers new products, new territories, and changes in the marketplace.

A sales plan is direct and straightforward and focuses on how to identify and develop new customer sales opportunities as well as how do grow revenue opportunities from existing customers. Typically, the following four steps are used to frame the sales planning process:

  1. Establish a realistic revenue goal (What do you desire to achieve?)
  2. Identify sales opportunities (To whom are you selling?)
  3. Determine outreach approach (How will you engage and what will you say?)
  4. Set clear and measurable metrics (What will you measure and how frequently?)
Establish a realistic revenue goal

Sales planning must begin with a revenue goal. The annual revenue goal is this segmented and assigned to broad customer segments, such as new acquisition vs. existing or returning). Among the factors considered when determining how to apportion the revenue goals are historical sales performance for new customers vs. existing customers as well as customer satisfaction and customer churn rate (Gallo, 2014). Factors such as new product launches, the lifetime of a product, product or service pricing, and other similar things will often influence which segment gets the most substantial proportion of the revenue goal.

Identify sales opportunities

Once the revenue goal is established and the segmented by new vs. existing customers, the next step would determine how to identify sales opportunities within those segments. For both segments, an analysis of the customer’s needs, values, and expectations (NVEs) are essential, as is a review of the competitive landscape. The outcome of the analysis will shape the products and services offered, as well as the price position of those offerings.

With existing customers, the goal is to create deeper customer loyalty and increase retention. To do this, start with how to strengthen the relationship by meeting...