Improving CRM success- Walk in the shoes

More than 65 percent of CRM projects fail to meet expectations, according to eSales Strategies consultant Jan Wallen....

So what is the problem? Why such a high failure rate?

At least one contributing factor is communication, or a lack thereof.

"I find that there is a lot of miscommunication, lack of communication, and misunderstanding between IT professionals and sales people," Wallen said. "They simply don't speak the same language."

"After a collaborative meeting, for example, the IT people will conceptualize an approach that's entirely different from what the sales people thought they articulated. Then when IT presents a prototype CRM solution to the sales people, they respond by saying 'this isn't anything like what we wanted.'"

In Wallen's experience, one of the best ways to improve CRM success is for IT professionals to gain a firm understanding of how customer support and sales processes work. Once IT people have this understanding, they can design automated processes into the system that will truly help sales people do their jobs more efficiently and effectively.

To accomplish this objective, Wallen suggests that IT people spend a day with a sales rep, with a sales manager, and with the call center operation. In addition to observing tasks and responsibilities, the IT person should also consider asking those colleagues the following questions:

In an ideal world, what would help you with your job most?
What are the top three challenges you face in your work?
What would make it easier for you to do your work?
What kind of information/support do you need to serve the customer better?
What kind of information/support do you need to close more sales?

Armed with this real world information, IT professionals can deploy CRM solutions that will directly impact the bottom line and improve employee satisfaction. Once this is achieved, the sales force and call center staff are more likely to embrace the CRM solution, instead of resisting change.

For more information about eSales Strategies, visit their Web site at

This was first published in January 2001

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