What problems does CRM solve and what problems are you looking to solve?

Igor Pauletič / / Marketing Automation

It’s part of human nature that we prefer to tackle something that is familiar, seemingly manageable, and comprehensible, rather than something that may be the actual problem that needs to be solved in a given situation. Even though we’re aware that we’re not solving the actual problem, most people tend to be risk-averse and prefer to put their energy into something they feel more familiar with – despite knowing that it’s very hard to solve the actual problem this way. But that’s how we are.

This past weekend I went to a birthday party, where I ran into an old acquaintance of mine that I hadn’t seen for nearly ten years. He just had to tell me that he’d read two of my manuals on CRM systems and that he’d been appointed head of the project for launching CRM at his company. Breathlessly, he told me that they had to do something about their sales and that this was their company’s “biggest” project this year. The added value of their flagship product was falling and sales of the new product ranges were not really taking off yet. He told me that in just a few years their customers’ buying habits had completely changed. “Interesting,” I thought to myself and listened to what he had to say.

Customers already make 75% of the purchase decision even before they contact you. Click To Tweet

This is roughly how our conversation went:

“Customers do their own research on the internet and make at least three quarters of their purchase decision even before they make a single phone call or contact us in some other way. Or any other retailer. Today customers know everything and can get all the information online. Almost everything. We don’t hide anything from them any more. Anyone who hides information doesn’t even make it onto their list.”

“But the CRM system will only help you manage those processes that involve the interaction between the customer and the salesperson. You will only be able to influence the outcome in the final 25% of the buying decision process. Until contact is established with customers, CRM can’t detect and deal with them. Wouldn’t it make more sense to invest in improvements to the part where the customer independently makes 75% of the purchase decision? If you create a system for that and bring in twice as much demand, you’ll probably earn twice as much using the same methods. Are you really convinced that you can do that only by making improvements to the last 25% of the process, when your salesperson is already interacting with the customer?”

“I’ve never thought about it that way. What you’re telling me makes sense, but what kind of system can I create when the customer is doing research on the internet? Only Google could sort that out.”

“Well, how did you end up reading my CRM manual in the first place?”

“Completely by coincidence. I noticed your post on LinkedIn that three of my business partners had liked. About three weeks ago. That was also when I learned what you’ve been doing over the past few years and connected with you on Linkedln. Your post made sense and seemed logical, that’s why I went to your blog to read the rest. In one of the posts there was a link to the manual and one of the seminars you conducted last year. After I downloaded the first manual, I received the next one in my inbox a couple of days later. Since then, I’ve been receiving weekly newsletters from your company with new blog posts. I forward most of them to my colleagues at the company. We’ve been thinking we’d ask you to deliver an in-house training course on marketing, sales, and modern CRM systems for us after the holidays. Like the ones you’ve held at Hotel Mons. Do you also do private seminars?”

“Sure. Unfortunately, they’re not for free, but this way they are much more detailed and tailored to the individual client’s needs. Great stuff, you’ll see. I’ll send you an offer on Monday.”

If you care about the overall customer experience, CRM alone is no longer enough. Click To Tweet

“Do you have my e-mail and phone number? Do you know where to send it?

“Sure. I also know what you’ve read, when you read it, which colleagues you recommended our blog posts to, what they’ve read, and so on. I also know basically what else you should read in order to become our client. You’ve been served specific reading material by a system that has been monitoring your purchase readiness and area of interest. The website, too, has gradually changed for you based on what you’ve already read. The purpose of all of this is to approach you with topics of interest to you, in an increasingly targeted way. Everything is done automatically, without anyone in the company having to deal with you at all. In addition to the CRM system, the marketing IT system we have in place deals with clients with whom we haven’t had one-on-one contact yet. This is referred to as Marketing Automation.”

(He looked at me, horrified, pausing for a few seconds.) “So why haven’t you called me if you already knew all of this?”

“I saw you on the mailing list among those invited to this party. I thought it would be easier to talk to you in a more relaxed environment. But you’ve beaten me to it.”

“Amazing … You’ll really have to show me this. I thought only Google knew what I was browsing on the internet. If our sales people knew this, it would definitely improve their approach to customers. I can’t believe you can actually watch customers look at your display window and see what products they’re comparing … That’s what we need, screw CRM!”

“You also need CRM. You’ll see. That is, if you truly care about the overall customer experience …”

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P. S. For more information I recommend reading these two quick guides. They’re free. 😉