Why CRM Doesn’t WorkOctober 13, 2014 | By Wayne O'Neill
Customer relationship management (CRM) software doesn’t work.
At least, not by itself.
A good CRM tool can be helpful, but it can also lull you into data-gathering mode. For data to be useful, it must be turned into knowledge, then knowledge turned into insight, and insight turned into connection.
Data Is Not Connection
So you have a huge CRM database. Pat yourself on the back because you have a lot of data about your clients – but are you really connecting with those clients?
The connection process is more complex and nuanced than any big, fancy CRM can handle. It takes time and effort to get to know who is the decision-maker in the organization – who is actually spending the money.
Data Doesn’t Identify Your Champions
A CRM won’t help you build up your network of champions either.
Champions aren’t necessarily your friends, nor are they data points in a CRM tool. They are those people who will fight for you and for the impact of your service or product for their own selfish reasons.
Data doesn’t show you who else is talking to your clients, either. People outside of your business “food chain” have different perspectives on your client’s decision-making dynamics – perspectives that can help you know your clients in a deeper way.
Data Doesn’t Identify Culture
Data in a CRM tool won’t help you understand an organization’s culture, which is fundamental to the connections process.
You have to work to find people who can help you navigate the organization – not just who works for whom, or what the org chart looks like in black and white, but how exactly the culture works. What’s the organization’s DNA?
It’s not that the names aren’t in CRM, it’s not that the data isn’t there – it’s that knowledge and insight are harder to sift out of CRM.
The Biggest Separation Between CRM and Connection
What drives decision-making within teams? A bunch of data points in a CRM tool? No. The business and political issues surrounding that that team are what drive decision-making.
A higher education client, for example, might be concerned about the cost of tuition, the issues around professor tenure, or how to make education valuable.
A healthcare client might be more soccer-mom driven, and concerned more with serviceability than politics.
All of the different industries we work in are going through tremendous disruption. It’s not that these issues aren’t being noted in CRM, it’s that these issues aren’t as obvious there.
We focus sometimes on the pain, but what you have to get comfortable with is that CRM is not valuable on its own.
Think about the difference between a doctor and a veterinarian. A doctor focuses on the pain his patients say they are experiencing and makes a diagnosis from this information. A veterinarian must use his intuition to make the diagnosis for an animal that cannot explain its pain. The best connectors and the best account developers are like those veterinarians, assessing what they see but not relying on it – using their intuition to go beyond the data.
Here’s the Bottom Line
Combine CRM with a dashboard that contains a connection strategy and related tactics, and you’ll add speed and effectiveness to connecting with clients.