Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Getting To Know You - III: How to select a CRM system

In this blog, I will provide you with a couple of links to white papers on the subject of selecting a CRM application that is right for your organization.
There is no magic, most of the reputable vendors have developed their own version of a "how to guide.." and these are available for the simple cost of registration on their respective websites. The point being is that if your company is truly serious about implementing or upgrading a CRM system, it is wise to listen to the experts. My experience is that most vendors, although passionate and bias about their products, are quite professional when it comes to fairly representing the functionality of their offerings.
I would like to emphasize that the single most important evaluation tool is the references provided by the vendor. Some questions:
  • How close is the operation of the reference site to that of your company?
  • Willl it be used mostly for sales or for post sales, customer service?
  • Does it truly reflect and/or facilitate the sales process and/or the interactions with customers for that company?
  • How difficult was it to adapt or customize?
  • In the same light, how flexible is it to modify after initial installation?
  • How well has it been accepted by the users, specially the sales team?
  • What was the selection criteria? Investment? TCO? Total Cost of Acqusition? Time to deliver/implement?
  • Does it allow for self-service?
  • Is it premise based or web based?
  • Is there a demo version available for download?

I am sure that the reader will probably have many more requirements than these. CRM buyers have written, if not thousands, of RFPs that can be used as templates for developing a selection criteria. Any reasonable CRM vendor can provide you with one or two without violating the confidentiality of their clients.

Ok. Links:




These three should keep you bussy for a while and good luck.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Conflict Between Managers

Due to an error on my part, there was a misunderstanding between an employee from the in-country partner and my employer. The mistake resulted in a temporary loss of trust and in an escalation process to higher management. The severity of the incident was exaggerated as result of a lack of trust between the parties.
Fortunately, it is not a situation that can not be resolved among emotionally intelligent people.

The event could have resulted in an interesting phenomena that occurs more often than not: in a conflict between organizations, be that departments or companies, managers first reaction is to unconditionally support their people and go to battle against the other management or organization. The results can be disastrous.
For the perceived offending party, loss of face and discredit.
For the offended party, loss of time and credibility with the customer.

I happen to report to a seasoned and professional management team. I was asked to explain the situation from my point of view. I was asked to propose alternatives to my behaviour and to explore ways to handling the situation in a more effective manner.
Unfortunately, we have not had the opportunity nor the benefit to talk to the other side. At this point, my requests for conversation have gone unanswered prompting me to believe that there is something here that is more than meets the eye.

The end result is that the sales process is either not progressing or not taking place with the contribution of my company.

So what can a manager do in a case like this?

I propose mediation. Invite a third neutral party to call on the parties to air their differences.
The atmosphere of mistrust is typical of what Stephen R. Covey talks about in his latest book: The Speed of Trust. I won't tell you the lunch line. I urge you instead to check out Mr. Covey's website and read his book.