Rumsfeld's "unknown unknowns"

Can You Afford Not To Have A CRM Consultant?

Alicia CRM

I once had a client come to me for help, distraught at the failure of his company’s latest CRM implementation. It turns out the company had spent tens of thousands on a package recommended by the IT department. Unfortunately for my new client, that software implementation didn’t take into account the needs — and abilities — of the Sales team. The client lost money on a poor software choice. And he spent even more for the replacement, reimplementation, and retraining costs of a new system.

If only my client had entrusted a CRM consultant to help with planning. He could have saved thousands of dollars — and man-hours — had  he begun with an implementation strategy in place.

Once we start to quantify the sunk costs and opportunity costs of such a restart, it is hard to deny the positive ROI of good consultant.

Unknown Unknowns

It was this client who popped immediately in my mind when I read a NYT article about the Dunning-Kruger Effect. In it, David Dunning states:

Unknown unknown risks, on the other hand, are problems that people do not know they are vulnerable to…People often come up with answers to problems that are o.k., but are not the best solutions. The reason they don’t come up with those solutions is that they are simply not aware of them.

Unknown unknown solutions haunt the mediocre without their knowledge. The average detective does not realize the clues he or she neglects.  The mediocre doctor is not aware of the diagnostic possibilities or treatments never considered.  The run-of-the-mill lawyer fails to recognize the winning legal argument that is out there.  People fail to reach their potential as professionals, lovers, parents and people simply because they are not aware of the possible.  This is one of the reasons I often urge my student advisees to find out who the smart professors are, and to get themselves in front of those professors so they can see what smart looks like.

Get yourself in front of the experienced professionals so you can see what success looks like.

business meetings

Get yourself in front of the experienced professionals so you can see what success looks like. | by thinkpanama

Making a decision without all the facts leads to failure. And the first step in gaining facts is knowing which questions to ask. This is where your friendly, neighborhood CRM consultant rushes in to save the day. For example, I know a bit about cars. I take care of basic repairs like changing my headlights and replacing my spark plugs. But I still trust my mechanic to guide me through major repairs. I would not think to replace the engine on my own. Likewise, I would caution you not to overhaul your CRM without a seasoned professional that you trust.

Selecting a CRM that aligns with your business goals is more than choosing an off-the-shelf package rated 3+ stars. A CRM expert will save you time and money by guiding you through the selection process. And, a good consultant will know the potential pitfalls as well as the questions to ask that will help you avoid those disasters.

Planning for Success

What can steps can you take to get the best results from your CRM investment? While not an exhaustive list, this should point you in the right direction.

Get stakeholder commitment. Your project’s success depends on buy-in from the various teams as well as the company’s vision leader. Mitigate user adoption challenges at the beginning; You don’t want to invest in a solution only to find your team still counting beans instead.

Align your business strategy with supporting CRM technology. Your CRM strategy should be in sync with your application software. A truly successful CRM solution is an ongoing process that aligns the technology to your business’ strategic goals.

Prepare for change. Adoption of a CRM software will involve re-engineering your business processes. A successful implementation requires a willingness to change not just internal processes, but the way your business relates to its customers. That’s why we’re doing this, right?

Training, training, training! Many implementations skimp on training, assuming a few hours of “the basics” is sufficient for their staff. Whatever your training budget is, increase it. Your employees need to know more than how to enter some data into the new system. Staff need to also know the benefits of the system and how it fits into the overall business strategy. Training builds familiarity and confidence with the application. This increases productivity — and the likeliness of a successful deployment.

A CRM solution is more than a capital investment. It is an investment in your customers, your employees, and the company’s vision. Make sure you get your CRM right the first time. Can you afford not to?