CRM is not so scary as it is painted

For over 7 years most of the leading companies in Poland takes the challenge of implementing CRM system. Other companies are waiting to see the results of those implementations to be the next in line for it. The most frequent reasons for delaying the implementations are anxieties about the human factor. The fundamental assumption is that CRM systems encompass with their functionality departments such as marketing, sales and client service.   

The characteristic feature of the above mentioned departments is considerable independence and also they generate individuality and subsequent meteoric careers. Keen rivalry increases the fear of a solution which systematizes and describes phenomena concerning contact with a client. The fear of restricted creativity and independence is the most frequent factor of aversion to CRM systems. A question appears—is CRM the end of a creative sales representatives and marketing specialists? Is restricting the one thing that distinguished our company from others on the market a safe move?     

Usually the sales department has the most objections and uncertainties. People working in that department are perceived as great individualities, freelancers, people equipped with the 6th sense for persuasion. They are the most mysterious employees. This sense mystery is a result of numerous factors. First of all, it is the fear of detecting a mistake which is very easy to make in a contact with other people (clients). Secondly, the popular system of commissions in addition to low basic salaries. The receipt for effective sales is thoroughly hidden. Moreover, there is a trend to create artificial competition inside a company. This practice allows people to be champions just for two seasons—just like in sports. These are just some reasons for the fear associated with CRM systems implementation and that fear gives sales representatives goose-bumps. One of such representatives in a company which decided for the CRM system advocated to stop the implementation. The system was to impose on him a new style of work which required entering various data and that took a lot of his precious time. His company offers costly investment goods so the selling process is long and based on official and private relationship. In such a process the leading sales representative was almost irreplaceable. Now, by implementing CRM system, he would be placed in a worse position in the company’s power relations hierarchy.                 

Successfully completed implementation changed his opinion about CRM systems.
Below I would like to present a chart of this sales representative’s actions concerning ten clients a week before and after CRM implementation.  

Before implementation

Time

After implementation

 Time

He made 30 telephone calls

  • active time of call
  • inactive time of call (the client was not present)

1,5 h
2,0 h

He made 30 telephone calls

  • active time of call
  • inactive time of call (the client was not present)

  • entering data to CRM

1,5h
1,0h
0,25h

Sending 10 offers:

  • active time of offers preparation
  • inactive time of offers preparation
  • the activity of sending the offers
  • confirmation of sending


10,0h
1,5h
1,0h

 

Sending 10 offers:

  • active time of offers preparation
  • active time of offers preparation
  • the activity of sending the offers
  • confirmation of sending
  • making a note of sending the offers in CRM

10,0h
1,5h
1,0h
0,25h

Meetings with 10 clients

  • active time of meetings
  • commuting to the meetings
  • meeting preparations
  • reporting decisions made during the meeting

15,0h
20,0h
5,0h
5,0h

Meetings with 10 clients

  • active time of meetings
  • commuting to the meetings
  • meeting preparations—fast access to information
  • entering to CRM data concerning decisions made during the meeting


15,0h
20,0h
1,3h
5,0h

Activities in the company

  • inner meetings
  • overall report
  • other

1,0h
2,0h
2,0h

Activities in the company

  • inner meetings (most of the problems were solved within the system)
  • reporting—done by system functionalities
  • other

1,0h
0,0h
2,0h
TOTAL: 67 h   59,8h

 

By the above calculation, our sales representative spent almost 3 hours a month less (average) for one client service. Subsequently, one may see that a correct CRM implementation does not overload a sales representatives when it comes to time. His work took on a whole new dimension. The sales representative became truly a liaison between the company and the client. The data he gathered during the contact with the client were entered into a joint database. The marketing department used the data to prepare grounds for his further activities. Fast access to marketing data allowed for an immediate adjustment of sales activities. The constantly expanding client database, after some time offered a wide range of information concerning other sales representatives’ experience with clients. That, in turn, led to more effective work and better salaries. The fear of disclosing information about this sales representative’s success was eliminated by the fact that in an event of failure, CRM creates a possibility to analyse all factors contributing to a failure which gives a wider perspective of the occurrence. To sum up, our sales representative’s work style did not change radically. The improvement of quality of his work is noticeable on the level of the company as a whole.                   

I, a Sales Manager…

On the management level of this company there were no fierce resistance to CRM implementation. The management understood the advantages of joining all sales representatives into one organism. Fast information about the state of sales, prognoses based on measurable and up-to-date client data (divided accordingly to department’s organizational structure) are an irrefutable proof of rightness of implementing CRM. The sales resources management improved as well. The possibility of detailed analysis of sales representatives actions allowed to allocate them to more adequate types of sales, types of products, or types of clients. At this point, a visible reduction of time needed to plan and control employees work is noticeable. There is also an increase in the range and intensity of reports for the Board. The informative role of sales department meetings was decreased and as a result the management could focus on the team’s morale and avoiding potential misunderstandings.            

CRM system implementation is certainly a challenge for every company. The implementation process is the moment of truth. Not every implementation goes as smoothly as the one presented in the example above. Many people will not be able to adjust to new conditions and requirements. A similar process took place when in the 90s we underwent computerization process in our companies. A lot of people simply could not overcome their fear of and aversion to computers. However, in the long run that influenced positively companies’ functioning. Reduction and injecting new blood into administration and finances, allocated human resources towards sales, marketing, and client service departments. That resulted in a stronger influence of the company’s offer on the market. Today, ERP or MRP II systems are perfectly natural in most of companies. In the near future the same is going to be true for CRM system if only we will not surrender to market demagogues looking for cheap fame. We are condemned to CRM as much as we are condemned to competition.   

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Adam Piętera (born In 1974)—Sales and Marketing Manager in SI-Consulting S.A. (Inc.)

Adam Piętera for the last 10 years gained his experience in the leading companies on the ERP market. He cooperated with T-Systems Polska and QAD Poland Sp. z o.o. (Ltd.) amongst others. He is the author of numerous sales, ERP and CRM implementation publications. His articles were published in Manager, Modern Marketing, and Monitor rachunkowości.