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The Perfect CRM

Trying to define the perfect CRM is a lot like trying to define the perfect vacation, a perfect suit or a perfect meal…so much depends on so many qualities such as one’s goals, size and tastes.

Today’s Blog is a little different in that I have been fortunate to have been asked to take part in a joint effort to address this topic along with a group of my fellow A/E/C marketplace bloggers. (See Post Epilogue)

I will address my point of view from a perspective of working with companies in the commercial construction arena and with a background in lead generation and CRM consulting. Bear with me just a moment while I bore you with a bit of my resume that will, I believe, flavor my offering from a somewhat unique perspective.

The first 13 years of my career, I worked for a company called ‘Construction Market Data’ which became ‘Reed Construction Data’. As a company, we gathered project data by calling on architects, owners, developers, general contractors, municipalities and more. We entered the data into a proprietary database which was actually a very elaborate CRM.

At any one time, we would be tracking literally tens of thousands of project leads ranging from the time a building was nothing but a glimmer in a developer’s eye, through the various stages of design, the bidding process to finally announcing who was awarded the major sub trades.

In tracking a construction project through this timeline, we would include such key roles as the owner, the architect, the structural, mechanical, electrical engineers, bonding information, bid date and time, plan and addendum availability, size, scope, structural details, etc. In other words, a lot of data was attached to a ‘single entry’.

During my tenure at CMD/Reed, I was in charge of training every researcher and sales rep on the ‘in’s out out’s’ of how we gathered data, developed relationships with our sources, how the data was entered, stored and retrieved. Near the end of my time there, I was responsible for managing our national accounts which included pushing the data to their CRM systems and making sure they used this data to their best ability. Our accounts would range from small subcontractors to multi-billion dollar corporations paying hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for these leads.

Now with that painful review done, I will fast forward to today and share that I make a fair portion of my living consulting with companies on their CRM system, particularly as it relates to their sales and marketing, and have seen many companies under/over shoot the mark in their quest for the perfect CRM.

I have written about the importance of leads for building new business before and today’s topic goes hand in hand with managing past, present and future pricing opportunities. While a CRM has many, many features and benefits, I am more specifically concerned about using it to build new business.

When I am consulting with a client on how to manage their CRM, the first thing I try to get them to understand that investing in any CMR system is much like buying a Bowflex™. Buying the Bowflex™ does not get your body to look like the guy in the commercial but rather the continued and effective use of it does. In other words, buying a CRM is not a solution. How you use it is.

A CRM system is nothing more than a tool and it will be most effective when the particular needs of a company are woven into the ‘routine’ of the end user. Software is not the only part of a successful CRM system.

Whether one knows it or not, every single company in America has a current CRM system. It may be nothing more than, on the low end, index cards, filed by date for when to call a prospect/account all the way up to an enterprise wide system that integrates with accounting, production, finance, fulfillment, etc. costing several hundred thousands of dollars

To find the perfect CRM, a company needs to clearly define what it wants to accomplish by upgrading their current system. Often, a business does not even know what questions to ask and can often be mesmerized by bells and whistles that look great during the presentation though offer very little real value as far as meeting their specific goals.

When compiling one’s ‘wish list’ or even better yet, designing your ‘plan and specifications’ for your CRM consider the following, each of which could deserve an entire blog:

• Budget Reporting • Analytics Goals • Training • Expandability • Integration • Security • Success Factors • Data Storage • Implementation Plan • Marketing • Measuring ROI • Support • Data Entry Standards • Data Import • Back Office • Mobile Access • Customization • Forecasting • Pipeline Management

And more…

In short, I believe the perfect CRM system does not exist but there are some systems that are more ‘perfect’ than others. The key to finding the more perfect solution is to understand what you want from this investment.

This is a topic near and dear to my business heart and I am nowhere near a skillful enough writer to address this topic entirely in one blog. If you have any questions, feel free to ask and maybe we can carry this discussion further. In the mean time, I encourage you to read what my colleagues have to say on this subject via the links below.

In short, when it comes to investing in, and trying to find the perfect CRM, measure twice, cut once.

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Post Epilogue

The Perfect CRM is a series of essays by industry experts on the topic of client relationship management tools. Each expert draws upon years of experience to outline their vision of the perfect CRM system. This exercise provides you with new insights into what works, what doesn’t work, and what you should consider when implementing a CRM system.

The experts include:

Visit these sites to read each experts take on the perfect CRM.

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Bobby Darnell is the founder and Principal of Construction Market Consultants, Inc. An Atlanta based management consulting group specializing in business development, sales, marketing and profitability as well as executive placement for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry.

Bobby can be reached at bobbydarnell [at] cmconl.com

www.cmconl.com

About the Author

Bobby Darnell is the founder and Principal of Construction Market Consultants, Inc., An Atlanta based management consulting group specializing in business development, sales, marketing and profitability as well as executive placement for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry.

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