The two approaches to CRM and why the Indian approach works better for small businesses
If you follow the CRM products and solutions out in the marketplace, you will know the “flavour of the season” is “Social”.
All CRMs are now focusing on managing contacts- the interactions, tracking their social media presence and activities and making it easier for engage their contacts on social media.
This is all very well and there are several folks who do this very well; taking contact management to a different plane altogether. You can now “engage” your prospective client like never before; congratulate him on a job-change, perhaps “like” his photos from his family holiday and follow his wisdom on Twitter.
All very well; but come to the point. Cut to the chase, if you will.
My experience of talking to customers over the last many months is telling me that customers (in India, at least) today are not seeing contact management as their big challenge and social media as the answer. They are looking to manage the sales process- from the enquiry (inquiry, if you are American) to close. They are looking at a B2B sales process in terms of “Account Management“- where multiple contacts take a “committee decision, past experience matters and sales follows a path of Awareness to Interest generation to Evaluation to Proposal to Close.
Has B2B sales become possible to be done on FB in US? Is it okay to Tweet a quote? Ever posted your 20 page sales proposal on your prospect’s “wall”? You tell me.
The amount of time that you need to engage your clients on social media, the amount of compelling content that you need to constantly supply- and make it individually relevant- just providing the tool is not going to work.
How many social media savvy sales guys do you know?
How many customers are on FB with you?
This long, virtually never ending courtship that the “new-age” CRMs promise, will not likely lead to consummation.
The other observation I have, and this is a more generic comment about the CRM softwares: when they do go beyond contact management, they are more into process tracking and milestones. Let me explain why I think an Indian customer is looking for more than that.
B2B Sales, in India and I suspect in many parts of the world, is a formal process.
There is a long sales cycle and your software is probably doing a great job capturing the milestones. But, the customers are looking to send a quote, a formal proposal with terms and conditions, acknowledge the PO when it comes in and point out the deviations. Perhaps even invoice at shipment.
The advantages: The “Indian approach” has one huge advantage over the CRM softwares made in the west. It is that, you do not need to do these activities (quote/ proposal/ literature mailing/ event invitation) outside, using some other software and come back to CRM only to log these activities. So, the CRM gets elevated to a level of “part of work- a tool I use to do my daily customer facing activities”. The disadvantage is of course, that this makes the software itself “heavier-more laden with functionalites”.
The balance: I do think a CRM needs to do more than Contact Management. It also needs to go beyond process milestones logging.
Remember, one of the biggest problems the sales people have against CRM adoption was having to duplicate work done elsewhere. While the new CRM softwares in the market manage the task of profile management very well, managing to keep the contact profiles updated and rich in interaction history, I am not sure if the need of a small business is really served by having a long “courtship period”/ sales cycle. When they want to “pop the question”/ send a proposal or a quote or sales literature, they want to do it from the CRM itself.
I am not a great fan of the very transactional view of the business. But, the end goal of a CRM is business generation. Click here if you want a demo or a guided tour of Saleswah CRM.