The acronym for customer relationship management, CRM, was first introduced in early 2000 as a replacement for the now-outdated term sales force automation (SFA). CRM was immortalized in the popular lexicon when Microsoft CRM came to market in 2003. For those of us in attendance at the 2003 industry tradeshow where Microsoft CRM 1.0 was launched, one thing became clear: Microsoft’s entry to the CRM field was going to make this young industry better understood in the marketplace. At the time, very few people recognized the capabilities of CRM and the few systems available were very expensive and geared only for larger enterprises. Other options for smaller organizations and smaller budgets had very limited capabilities. Clearly there was a gap to be filled. Ten years later, that gap has been filled with dozens of new start-up CRM solutions, but only a few have been widely adopted and have gained mainstream popularity, such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Sage SalesLogix.
Surprisingly, there are still many businesses not using CRM and many more that use CRM in only a limited capacity, often deploying multiple systems within the same enterprise. Here’s the good news: Companies, who have not yet embraced CRM, have a unique opportunity to create a CRM solution which is fully customized to meet their needs and business processes, without the challenge of transitioning legacy data and the pain of establishing user adoption to a new system.
The primary objective in the CRM implementation should be to focus on the productivity, process and analytics needs of the sales, marketing and customer service functions of the business. Secondly, a CRM system should be chosen because it is reliable, easy–to-use and quickly adopted. Since starting TopLine Results in 1999, I have had the pleasure of seeing many of our clients’ businesses become successful. What were the keys to success for many of these companies? You must:
- Customize CRM for the business processes (not the other way around).
- Make the system reliable and available wherever it is needed, including mobile devices.
- Ensure user adoption with proper and often repeated training.
- Leverage CRM analytics tools for forecasts, trends and key performance indicators to guide business decision making.
This is the tried-and-true formula for success which TopLine Results has established over our many years in the CRM field. If you are considering a CRM system for your organization, choose a well-established, stable platform with a certain future. To ensure the success of your CRM initiative, work with a team of experts with a track record of success to help you design your optimum CRM system and advise you on your journey to success. Give us a call—we’d love to be a part of your success story!