By AVON COLLIS
The business environment
Figure 1 – Creating a CRM strategy (Hutt Speh 2014, p.59).
Figure21 – CRM Flexibility Conceptual Framework (Shalender & Yadav 2019, p.39).
A CRM implementation done properly can be an expensive exercise and requires, guidance, assurance, training and redesigning of processes and culture. All of which are much easier if there is a strong relationship with the firm. If this is done progressively it can also create a culture of change and use of the CRM which enables the client to continue the development and evolution of the CRM even after the implementation team has completed its work.
Relevate clients are generally happier with a guided process and yield better results than the typical turnkey implementations. Clients that chose the prebuild solution save money but do not yield the same transformative results, do not have as high employee adoption and do not have the depth of collection and understanding of data.
Most successful firms have a unique selling proposition, a unique way of doing things and require a system that is flexible enough to meet their needs. Smaller firms typically to look for software tools that they can fit their business into, and larger firms look for software platforms that will fit their business. Larger firms have larger budgets and are more willing to invest in bespoke systems that will give them a competitive advantage but delivering services to these firms can often require a larger team.
Relevate’s target market is a business that wants to move beyond buying an off the shelf solution that is not configurable to one that they can customise to their business. These firms often have a marketing team, perhaps do not have a CRM or have a basic off the shelf platform, have a database of customer data consisting of more than 2000 records and are not required to conform to any specific industry standards like a finance broker, bank or insurance broker would as an example. The target market for Relevate is Small to Medium Business (SMBs). Companies do not purchase CRM systems frequently and implementing one is a significant undertaking however there is an opportunity for ongoing engagements.
New B2B Marketing Strategy
Figure 4 shows the relational elements of the B2B Elements of Value as described by Almquist et al. (2018). These elements will be used to shape the marketing strategy for Relevate.
B2B Elements of value
Firms want to have their questions answered and their issues resolved in a timely manner. Many software firms build a project and move on, they are not on hand to assist and help the customer. Software implementation firms commonly use the sprint methodology of project management, this requires a backlog of tasks to build up before tackling them in batches. While this is an effective way of using developer time it is not necessarily customer centric or solutions focussed. Higher response times lead to higher customer satisfaction. SMBs identified high quality, excellent customer service and having a unique good or service as the three main factors driving customers to purchase their goods or services (Deloitte 2017, p.11). While this is a statistic on consumer sales, the article by Almquist et al (2018) discusses how B2B buyers behave more and more like consumers.
Many firms seek to breakdown work packages and attempt to get low cost providers to build each of these elements. This works to bring down cost but also disconnects the process from the customer. The intent of the feature or build needs to be connected to the customer and can often require a deep level of experience in the effect on the business. For example, a small security setting in a CRM build can make a big difference if the lack of that setting caused the company to be sued or fined for a data breach. As previously mentioned, a skilled implementation team can consist of team members with specialisations in Accounting, Marketing, IT, Change Management and others. Expertise gives the client firm confidence that their investment is a good one and that they are more likely to achieve the desired result with less risk.
A proper CRM build is a large undertaking and requires a deep understanding and commitment to the result. Client firms also need to be committed to the outcome and need to play an active role in building toward the result. They need to commit to using the platform frequently, it cannot be a completely hands-off service that the CRM Implementation firm produces. Commitment is an integral part to a successful CRM Implementation. Similarly, the client firm looks for an implementation firm that will guide them through the entire process, will stay in business long enough to see the project to completion and will be able to take the time to understand the complexities of the client firm. One of the main goals of Implementing a CRM is to increase the Life Time Value (LTV) of the customer. This effectively generates a form of commitment from the customer to the company. If the CRM Implementation firm is aligned in this goal of committing to the client firm in achieving this goal, then the client firm feels as though they have a partner in achieving this goal.
Because of the depth and duration of a CRM Implementation project and of the deep understanding of the client and their business, it is not suitable for the CRM Implementation industry to be highly competitive with tight margins, firms need to be profitable and stable. Firms that undercharge reduce the likelihood of being able to see a long project from start to finish without going broke.
5. Cultural fit
There needs to be an alignment of culture, specifically in the area of best practice for CRM structure and use of customer data. The CRM Implementation firm should adhere to privacy and data laws and promote that culture the client firm. However, there are occasions when both the client firm and the implementation firm seek to exploit the data regardless of laws and ethics. CRM Implementation firms should set an example of excellent corporate culture as a way to show what the client firm can aspire to and as a way to demonstrate stability and expertise.
As a CRM Implementation firm that recommends a range of platforms, it is easy to position Relevate as a firm that has selected the best products rather than being seen merely as a reseller or employee of one of the larger software companies. Promoting quality and flexible products that fit within certain budget and feature ranges allows Relevate to promote best in class platforms. Commonly software sellers and re-sellers try to prove that their solution will fit the business and they end up focussing on selling the product rather than solving the customers problem. Relevate aims to avoid this perception by having a repertoire of products that fit a range of businesses applications, meaning that the value provided is the implementation service and expertise, and not necessarily the software product being used.
Some firms may have lower prices but they might take 3-5 times longer to do the work, this is usually due to a lack of expertise. Understanding the costs of implementing the CRM depends on the depth of implementation and customisation. One of the most significant costs is data cleaning. There can be significant amounts of data processing required to clean and map information into spreadsheets for subsequent upload into a CRM platform.
Promoting a high priced and long duration project that has a significant impact on the business and has an element of risk requires a high degree of trust. Building relationships and gaining trust is an important part of marketing a CRM Implementation firm. Relevate’s expertise and cultural fit to the client firm means that these purchasing decisions also take a long period of time to be reached, this decision time extends with the size of the firm and requires several stakeholders in the client firm’s buying centre. Every buying centre interaction and decision is different in every company (Johnston & Bonoma 1981, p.146). This allows Relevate to prove its solution and demonstrate its expertise by effectively using a CRM to track deals, relationship phases and automate the process as far as reasonably possible. This also helps to demonstrate responsiveness.
Many CRM Implementation firms tend to become quite aggressive in their approach to booking meetings, sending follow up emails and running through ‘textbook’ sales processes when trying to sell their CRM. This is commonly done by single solution firms that are there to sell their software product. This often gives the perception that they do not have wider expertise and that they are solely trying to sell their widget. It also gives an air of desperation and often does not lead to a good cultural fit in many organisations. Having a more relational approach, not following up quite as often, having professional conversations and remembering detailed facts about the business are an important part of the sales process for Relevate. Contrasting examples of this are a reseller for software company X calling, emailing and texting every day for 7 days after an initial web enquiry vs a professional consulting firm that guide you through the process but are sought after and not desperate for new business. Common forms of new business generation are word of mouth referrals and networking events.
The solutions provided by the firm are cloud based and can be provided anywhere, however Relevate choses to meet people face to face where possible to increase the level of perceived expertise. This also increases the level of trust and allows Relevate to be evaluated differently to other organisations. By using the offices of client firms to do some of the work, Relevate is responsive and accessible to the client.
Forms help you to capture information when the client is available, it can then automatically go into your CRM and commence another workflow.
Join Avon Collis, Floris Blok and Jeremy Pearce as we discuss all things sales, marketing, digital transformation and technology. We frequently have a range of guest and expertise that you can learn from. Check out the latest and other episodes by clicking below:
- Almquist, J, Cleghorn, J & Sherer, L, 2018 ‘The B2B Elements of Value: How to Measure – and Deliver – What Business Customers Want’, Harvard Business Review, March – April 2018, pp. 72–81.
- Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD). 2018. ‘Trust in the digital economy’. 21 Sep 2018. Accessed 8 Dec 2019. https://aicd.companydirectors.com.au/advocacy/governance-leadership-centre/practice-of-governance/trust-in-the-digital-economy
- Brockman, BK, Park, JE & Morgan, RM 2017, ‘The Role of Buyer Trust in Outsourced CRM: Its Influence on Organizational Learning and Performance’, Journal of Business-to-Business Marketing, vol. 24, no. 3, pp. 201–219, viewed 8 December 2019, http://search.ebscohost.com.aib.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=125434770&site=ehost-live
- Burgio-Ficca , C. 2019. ‘Hard drive for sales: Strong competition and fluctuating demand lead to revenue volatility’. IBIS World Industry Report, Computer and Software Retailing in Australia July 2019.
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- Deloitte Report 2017. Access Economics: Digital Opportunities for Today’s Small Business. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/au/Documents/Economics/deloitte-au-economics-digital-opportunities-for-todays-small-business-salesforce-220317.pdf
- Hutt, MD & Speh, TW 2014, Business marketing management B2B, European, Middle East and Africa edition, Cengage, Hampshire (ISBN: 9781408093719 or 9781473707924)
- Johnston, WJ & Bonoma, TV 1981, ‘The Buying Center: Structure and Interaction Patterns’, Journal of Marketing, vol. 45, no. 3, pp. 143–156, viewed 9 December 2019, <http://search.ebscohost.com.aib.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=4997578&site=ehost-live>.
- Shalender, K & Yadav, RK 2019, ‘Effective CRM Adoption and Implementation: The Critical Role of Flexibility’, Optimization: Journal of Research in Management, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 11–40, viewed 4 December 2019, <http://search.ebscohost.com.aib.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=138875828&site=ehost-live>.
- Soloman, M. R., 2012. Marketing: Real People Real Choices. 7 ed. Australia: Pearson.