Let’s presume that you are keeping customer, supplier and employee records. We would probably agree that the deeper your understanding of your relationships, the happier they will be, the door is open to do more business. Win win. No brainer.
You know you are ready for a CRM tool when you want to pull disparate sources of Client data together. However, finding and implementing a useful and easy to operate CRM system may take a lot of effort without enough reward, so how will you decide when to purchase, how much you should spend and how many hours of business disruption you can afford.
You may ask business associates to make a recommendation, even research products online, or begin looking for a CRM Consultant. A CRM Consultant will have completed the same project many times before, and will bring a wealth of experience to your job, included lessons learnt – saving you from learning them alone. Or like me, you may have signed up for a “free” trial and aborted the project before you got 10 customers’ data into the system. Your next step will be to get help. Let’s have a look at the role of a CRM Consultant ….
What are the tasks of a CRM Consultant
- A seasoned expert that knows your industry, gets to know your business strategy – goals – objectives, challenges and pain points
- Understand how your business works and whether you have a business process library that outlines how you sell, communicate, keep records and much more
- Bringing a CRM Consultant in to fix issues ‘after-the-fact’ may mean going back to the drawing board, especially when it comes to importing data. Getting it right the first time, can save a lot of time, resources and frustration
- Possibly create process documentation to support understanding what CRM system functionality you require
- Research your sales cycle analytics to identify your strengths and weaknesses
- Write a business requirements specification by extracting the information from you, your team and your management reports. What functions will you use and derive benefit from?
- Contact Management and its data format – Number of targeted groups allowed
- Lead Management
- Account Management
- Opportunity Management
- Sales Management
- Service Management
- Order Management
- Quote Management
- Product and Pricing Management
- Campaign Management
- Employee Management
- (there are others ….)
- Using the business requirements information, understand how much your business should be spending on your CRM solution to ensure a healthy ROI, and create a budget
- Discuss with you the different levels of business disruption in training, take-on and implementation and what those associated costs will be.
- Advise you with regard to the many CRM tools of the hundreds that suit your needs and budget
- Discuss with you the data input time requirements for your sales and marketing team members, and prepare them for the changes in their routine
- Negotiate with you or on your behalf with the CRM Vendor’s systems integration team for no or less consultation costs
- Your CRM Consultant can help you customise the system, they will create the simplified screen views that take out any clutter that may lead to learning challenges or User confusion
- Create a data integration plan of action
- Test your data to find out the level of ‘cleaning’ that may be required
- Develops a before and after picture. This is a dipstick of your business sales cycle successes, and sales before the implementation and compares it with data from an agreed period of time post-implementation.
Remember that when you choose a CRM Consultant to join your team, they will become an extended member of your team, possibly in the long-term as a system administrator or annual CRM strategist so chose your new team member well.
Get to know which technologies they support, know or do not know. If they are aligned to one brand you will not get an objective view point. The only danger in hiring Consultants is simply that they are usually aligned to either one or a few specific brands. If that is the case, you simply will not get objective advice. Ask for references to find out more about the tools they have represented in the past and the long-term benefits of their involvement.
Your CRM Vendor will advise, consult and support you to implement your product and may include their consulting service into your annual licence costs, keep an eye on incremental cost increases and plan your short, medium and long-term relationship with them before signing on the dotted line. You may also want to consider an exit strategy – new technology intelligence innovations happen every day and you should consider how you will exit your relationship, should you want to.
If you have read this far and you are convinced that you can be your own CRM Consultant, go to www.smallbizcrm.com and give the free CRM Finder tool a go. It takes about 8 minutes, and will give you your top matches, saving yourself hours of looking and comparing functions, prices and service offerings. Please let us know how it works out.
We’d like to thank the following people for their contributions to this article: