Published by Packt Publishing, Copyright 2006, ISBN: 1-904811-68-X. For more information on this text or others in the series visit Packt Publishing.
Location, Location, Location
Where do you sell? Do you sell from your shop? From your office? At your clients' premises? Over the Internet? Where are your staff? Are they in the office? Out servicing and selling to customers? Do they work from a single central office or are they spread across multiple regional offices? These are some of the most important variables in your CRM equation. After all, if we are trying to manage customer relationships, we need to know where those relationships are happening! And that means knowing where your customers are, and where your staff are.
If your business only generates sales within a single location—your store or office—then clearly your communications challenges are not as great as a business with a dozen outbound international sales representatives working out of their homes.
One of the key questions you need to answer is: when you or anyone in your business with a customer-facing role is in contact with customers, are they sitting at their computer and online? If not, you may need special CRM facilities so that they can access customer history when they need it, and so that they can enter updated information as it develops.
Let's study two of the more common scenarios:
- Multiple regional offices: If these are white-collar offices with primarily inbound staff, there is not necessarily any issue. The CRM server can be located anywhere in the world and staff in all the offices can access it via user name/password access— securely and with good performance—as long as they have a fast and reliable connection to the Internet. Smaller businesses with multiple regional offices are prime candidates for CRM installations, as they are likely to benefit greatly from the improved communications plus accurate and up-to-date account information provided by the CRM.
- Outbound sales people: No matter how many offices you have, these are the most difficult people to service well. Some of the ways in which they can use the CRM other than via the web browser on their home or office PC include:
* Accessing their laptop on a hotel room's high speed Internet connection overnight to update the system with the day's activities and look up information in preparation for tomorrow's calls.
* Connecting their laptop to the Internet at any time using high speed wireless data services like EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution), available from most wireless carriers.
* Using a PDA browser for handheld access to a limited subset of the CRM capabilities.
* Using a PDA that has the appointment and contact data within its native applications wirelessly synchronized with CRM data.
* Using their notebook with a stand-alone 'offline' installation of the CRM. When they return to the office, their private CRM installation can be synchronized to the main installation, to update any new data from the trip.
Size Does Matter: Two or Two Hundred?
The size of your business affects how you manage your CRM, the features you need from your CRM, and even the importance of the CRM to your organization. In a smaller business, employees have broader responsibilities—and these narrow as the organization grows. The need for continuity of business process, communication, and documentation becomes greater as the responsibilities get narrower. A business with fifty employees also has so many more employee-to-employee information pathways within it, compared to a business with five employees. Because of this, a CRM has even more to offer the larger firm.
Also, in a larger firm where not everyone knows everyone else's business, staff turnover can create a real risk that sales leads and opportunities created through work paid for by the business may be lost when an employee leaves. With a CRM there is an element of the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) principle that the process should transcend the individual. The employee may leave but their data lives on in the CRM, and another salesperson hired in his or her place will have all the account history to work on.
The larger firm also has other issues not likely found in the smaller firm. With a certain scale of organization, information privacy becomes important. Sales leads will not be entered into the system if sales people are concerned that another sales team or person may steal their leads. In a smaller firm, there is a tendency to have everyone know everything. If a lead is stolen, everyone will know who it really belonged to. But after a point, an organization becomes more compartmentalized and impersonal, and protecting leads and opportunity data becomes a real and valid concern. All of this gives rise to a complex requirement for an Access Control model, or a Permissions Management Infrastructure (PMI), as it is sometimes called. In this sort of system, roles are defined and the permission to view certain types of data and to perform certain actions is assigned to these roles. Then employees are assigned one or more roles, and the permissions from multiple roles just add to one another to give each employee their effective aggregate set of permissions. In a North American sales organization, for example, accounts might be split into geographical areas such as the West Coast, East Coast, Central USA, and Canada. Most sales people would only see leads and opportunities within their region, but sales managers would want to see leads, opportunities, and sales pipelines for broader geographies.
Lastly, the size of a business determines what a realistic budget figure is for the acquisition and deployment of a CRM. In a firm of five people, a CRM implementation budget might be 3,000- 5,000 USD. In a firm of fifty people, that budget would more likely be 25,000-50,000 USD. Also, the smaller firm is less likely to have any internal technical support capability—and running a CRM server in the office may be beyond its abilities.
You should give some thought to your firm's needs for data security and permission management, as well as setting an implementation budget for the CRM, and deciding if you have the internal capacity to manage a CRM server.
If your employees live and work in multiple countries, the odds are that your CRM may need to support more than one language. Language support has many aspects to it, including the language used for any and all of the following:
- Information you enter into your CRM
- The user interface of the CRM application
- The online help system
- The written documentation for the CRM.
You will need to decide on the language to be used for data entry into your CRM, choosing one that you feel most users can understand, even if it is not their first language.
Many languages need to be able to use a set of characters and accents that do not exist in the English language, so your CRM will need to be able to enter, display, and print these different sets of characters if you need international support.
You should find out from your CRM vendor what languages are supported for the user interface of the application, as well as in what languages the online help system and printable documentation are published.
SugarCRM has support for nearly 20 different languages (although many languages are supported only via a non-validated user-created translation) at the user interface, but print-image documentation exists only in English, and no online help system is currently available. Another aspect of international support is the format in which dates are displayed. Your CRM should store dates in its own internal format, but display them to users in whatever format each user has selected as their preference. Common formats include 12.23.2006, 23.12.2006, and 2006.12.23. SugarCRM handles all these formats just fine.
In addition to dates, different countries have differing formats in which numbers and currency are presented. The decimal separator in North America is . and the thousands separator is ,—but in much of Europe (Germany, for example), the decimal separator is , and the thousands separator is .. Thus what in North America is 12,234,678.90 USD in Germany is 12.345.678,90 . If your CRM needs to be able to present numbers and currency values to users in the format they are accustomed to use in their country, then check that your CRM is capable of supporting this feature. (At the time of writing, SugarCRM did not support the display of multiple international number and currency formats.)
* Read the rest of this excerpt and download Chapter 2:
One Size Does Not Fit All—CRM Your Way
* Read other excerpts and download more sample chapters from our
CRM and call center bookshelf
* To view a complete Table of Contents, or to purchase this text, please visit Packt Publishing