I’m once again in the final stages of implementing and integrating a CRM system, this one being SalesForce. These systems have come a long way over the years and labeling them as CRM [Customer Relationship Management] is about as sensible as calling a car a “Horseless Carriage”.
CRM systems are an outgrowth of SFA [Sales Force Automation] and were largely implemented by companies to help manage their sales-force, revenue pipeline, customer contacts, and to some extent their sales process. No doubt, many companies still use them this way. That’s fine, but doing only that greatly under-utilizes the product’s capabilities and value. Further, companies that just use CRM for those tasks find the product to really not deliver value and generally the sales force using the product find it more of a burden than a help.
A tool like SalesForce is more closely aligned to an ERP system and a Business Process Improvement system than it is to a CRM system. The system is extremely capable of being configured to automate many process tasks operationally within the organization while providing detailed “real time reports” along the way. This can be invaluable to companies interested in improving operations, reducing costs, and creating a much richer experience for their customers along the way.
Multiple Sales Processes – All organizations have multiple Business Processes executing in parallel. This is true for sales processes too. Not only do sales organizations typically have several sales processes that have different sales cycles, they have different process steps. For example, we may have one sales process which has a cycle of one day and is essentially a stock to dock cycle and we can have another cycle that is six months long and requires a total solution sales. Different processes, different metrics, and both can managed using a system like SalesForce.
Many companies view the sales process as a process that is discreet from the rest of the organization. They are not. They begin with Customer Acquisition [Marketing] move through a fulfillment phase, and end with customer service and back office operations such as accounting. Reporting occurs at every step along with work flow and task management.
I will examine several of these processes in my next post, including some automation approaches and using process improvement techniques like DMAIC [Design Manage Analyze Improve Control], to really improve organizational performance.
The first steps are to install the processes as they exist today and then work to improve them one at a time. Really a lot of work but well worth the effort.