Even the best enterprise system in the world can’t help a company if no one uses it. CRM suites aren’t designed to support the way a company currently does business. Instead, they make the company handle processes the system’s way or else pay up for a time-consuming custom coding process. (If business dynamics call for a change in processes, you’ll have to call on the custom coders yet again).
Because they’re designed to support an overarching business philosophy rather than individual productivity, the suite’s applications can be a tough sell among intended users such as salespeople, who will resent any new burdens that take away from their profitable selling time without offering useful functionality in return. Their reluctance to comply with the system’s requirements, and that of other users at touch points throughout the company, will quickly cripple its effectiveness. Unless and until everyone is on board, it’s impossible for management to reap the benefits of increased productivity and better,
more timely information. Otherwise, the investment becomes worthless.
6. Weak links in the solution set
Every CRM suite vendor claims best-of-breed performance across its entire application set, but the reality is far different. In truth, each suite consists of one reasonably good application, like SFA, support, email management, or data mining; and a number of less solid components added solely to create the illusion of a complete CRM suite.
Whether deployed simultaneously as a suite or incrementally as a set of point solutions, a CRM system is only as strong as its weakest component. The industry would be better served if each developer focused on the functionality it’s best able to deliver rather than trying to be all things to all customers.
Assuming, of course, that they have the foresight and the skill to enable seamless, painless integration with other point solutions. Then each customer would be free to define what “best-of-breed” really means to them, and assemble CRM systems where each component meets their needs as closely and successfully as possible.
7. Elusive ROI
Enterprise software can be one of the wisest investments a company can make but only if it can deliver results at a reasonable cost of ownership. Meanwhile, the cost of a full-fledged CRM implementation rises quickly into the millions long before the long-term effectiveness of the project can be known. The leap of faith this requires has struck fear in the heart of many IT executives, and rightly so.
Unfortunately, the ROI equation can be difficult to apply to a high-end CRM suite. CRM systems must be customised so extensively for each company that it’s almost impossible to know in advance how high costs will escalate before the system is complete. At the same time, changes in business performance can be difficult to measure with a system that doesn’t support existing processes. Even when you’re done, you’ll never be sure whether it was worth all the pain.
At the other end of the market, bargain-basement CRM suites present a different but equally vexing problem. Offering functionality a mile wide but only an inch deep, they are “jack of all trades, master of none.” At the same time, designed with a one-size-fits all mentality, they lack the configurability necessary to adapt to and address individual companies’ business process needs. The price may be attractive, but it’s still too high for a solution that can’t get the job done.
Fortunately, there’s a better way.
A less fatal way to get results
It’s hard to blame companies for making themselves vulnerable to the CRM sins listed above. They want what everyone wants: increased revenue, streamlined processes, and reduced internal costs for a real top-line and bottom-line impact. But a “big bang” implementation of a full CRM suite is hardly the only-or even the best-way to achieve
Online sales management holds many virtues for those seeking the benefits of customer relationship management without putting their companies’ souls in peril.
1. Low cost
Online sales management is available at a small fraction of the cost of a full-fledged CRM project. Because the service is browser-based, there is no software to install or maintain at the client site. Deployable in a matter of weeks, not years, online sales management causes minimal disruption of work. Fully outsourced, the solution frees companies from the need to employ IT personnel, support staff, and outside consultants. At the same time, the solution provider’s ability to amortise costs across its entire customer base results in a more cost-effective sales management solution than a full-fledged CRM project could ever be.
Built to support commonly accepted sales methods, the solution can be simple and intuitive to use with minimal training time and expense. Total cost of ownership is limited to a small monthly subscription fee that is easily recouped many times over by real-time gains in sales productivity.
2. Saved time
With none of the extensive planning, installation, customisation and training requirements of a CRM system, an online sales management solution can be up and running in as little as fifteen days. Rather than waiting until the end of the year for productivity to improve, the company sees higher revenues almost immediately. Compared with the £100 million company with the three million dollar increase in the
example above, a similarly sized online sales management customer can see more than £14 million in new revenues that compounds in perpetuity.