Providing your sales and marketing teams with the customer insight they need can empower them to improve efficiency and increase revenue.
When many of your staff simply avoid using your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system during their working day – and those that don’t are baffled – you know you have an issue. What’s more, when you’re competing in a global events context, in which customer data in fact can and should drive mission-critical aspects of the operation, then you know this is an issue you need to manage fast. In this instance, the client approached Smart Tips to help them diagnose the problem in-depth and to design an end-to-end solution.
Turning over in excess of $1bn, with operating units in multiple countries, the client had grown through acquisition to become a major player in the global events industry. Given the annual planning cycle for many global events, we saw real potential for an effective CRM system to become a key driver of performance. From refining prospect lists to pinpointing sales forecasts, CRM could have been adding value at the heart of the business.
But it wasn’t.
Beyond the disengaged users already mentioned, the client’s senior managers simply were not seeing the useful and intelligent information they expected from CRM. The root cause, the client believed, was the federated nature of the business: a network of acquired businesses operating on legacy CRM platforms.
After conducting a series of interviews and workshops with employees at all levels, Smart Tips concluded that the problem wasn’t so much platforms that wouldn’t talk to each other as people. Even more fundamental than the technology was the feeling, in some national operating units, that CRM was being forced upon them from the centre.
The client was, we argued, operating a CRM system without having agreed with all stakeholders as to what it wanted the system to achieve.
To build the foundations of a lasting solution, Smart Tips proposed to work with the client to establish the globally-consistent structures and processes which define and empower an effective CRM.
The Smart Tips approach
As a consultancy, we work at two levels:
- Our senior team of directors deploy their over 45 years of CRM experience to partner with senior stakeholders in order to design the overall solution, including global CRM spec, and to support global processes and culture. This partnership ensures all senior clients can contribute to the project – and see concrete benefits for their area of the business.
- Our consultants, with 3-4 years’ experience, work up-close with the customer, running the user workshops that pinpoint key pain-points, and implementing process and culture change at user level.
How we did it
Smart Tips built a detailed project proposal for a ‘To Be’ scenario, implementing:
- Standard governance system across all sales and marketing processes
- Standard delivery approach and methodology
- Globally-agreed quality standards.
While standardised structure and process could create the building blocks of a stable CRM, these elements could not eradicate the underlying mind-set of ‘not invented here’ which was felt by key users. Smart Tips believed that deep stakeholder engagement and buy-in with the new platform were essential to its success.
Balancing the need for implementing a single technology with maximum economies of scale versus the need for autonomy in national operating units Smart Tips proposed an innovative procurement strategy:
- Choosing and designing the CRM platform centrally
- But empowering national leadership teams to appoint their preferred supplier locally
So where is the project today – and which concrete fixes have been delivered?
- At global level, the client has appointed a ‘top four’ consulting business to design a standardised order processing system.
- At national level, Smart Tips has re-engineered the order processing system in Salesforce.com to report in real time – as opposed to the historic 15-minute delay – resulting in significantly more efficient batch running, and a more agile system overall.
But the big prize – delivering a single dashboard to sales leadership with a real time view of global sales and pipeline – is yet to be delivered. The transformational journey has been scoped, but not yet completed.
As with every project, the lessons learnt have been analysed and assimilated by the Smart Tips team. In their own words, insights for future CRM projects include:
“Businesses need to learn to think globally before they act globally – that way everyone can gauge the true appetite for global solutions.”
“The very first conversation in any CRM re-design should always be with the end-user. That’s where the project starts and finishes.”