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Building Sales Enablement on to CRM

There is a lot of great information about sales enablement and how CRM vendors are now making it an integral part of their solution.  They understand the importance of it to successfully close deals while maximizing profits.   It certainly offers great benefits to improving the sales team's productivity and being able to respond to the customer's requirements quickly and easily.  And, with our prospects being busier than ever, we need to make sure that we can respond at the right time with the right information.

My concern is that companies will fall into the proverbial pit of excitement and anticipation thinking that now there is a complete tool to make them more successful.  A solution that will generate more sales at lower costs.  One that will solve all of their problems.  CRM already has a failure rate of ~50% (depending on which report you read).  How many of these companies that are struggling with CRM are thinking, "Here is a way that I can get us over the hump.  Our user adoption will improve and we will see the ROI that we expected."

There are so many great tools available for customer-focused businesses and these applications can, when implemented at the right time and for the right reasons, can be extremely beneficial.  Those promises made by the vendors will then come to fruition and all will be happy in the world.

Sales enablement will have great success with the right companies that have got all of their "ducks in a row".  What do I mean?  Those companies now looking at sales enablement must first ask themselves the following questions:

  1. Are my sales processes understood and aligned to my CRM? 
  2. Do I have all of the other fundamentals in place such as successful user adoption, great analytics and a well oiled CRM machine that keeps on chugging merrily along? 
  3. Have I achieved my objectives to the fullest with what I have in place?"
  4. Am I really ready to take the next step to improving my ROI?

If you can answer yes to the above questions, then sales enablement may offer you all of the benefits that the research reports and vendors are publishing.  But, we all know putting a bandaid on a problem does not get rid of it.  So, doesn't it make sense to make sure you have a good foundation first before building on that extension?

What's Happening Behind The Scenes May Be Holding Your Company Back!

I had a very interesting conversation with a business acquaintance about the importance of understanding and aligning our business process with CRM.  He then asked me a question which I had to ponder on for a moment.  “How many companies have you interacted with that actually know and have mapped out their processes?”  I sat back for a minute to think about the past conversations that I have had with business executives and realized that I have seen companies that have nothing, to those that have created complete business processes and implemented BPM (Business Process Management) strategies. 

But the truth is, in my experience, there is a significant number that do not have a business process that is shared internally, followed and used to create automated workflows to improve productivity, increase sales and strengthen customer relationships.  I remember another conversation where the VP of Sales and I started to discuss the importance of business processes when he said, “We don’t have one, it’s not a priority and talking “process” to our sales team would be non-productive.  It is not their focus”.  After a while, he did back pedal a bit and said, “Well, realistically, we probably do have a process.  We follow the same routine or procedure from lead generation to sales, through to customer support but, to start pushing it would be like sticking a needle in our sales team’s eyes”. 

I might be exaggerating a bit to make a point, but at the end of the day, if you do not conduct business in a consistent, cost-effective, productive manner internally, how in the world is a customer going to know what to expect from you?  And how are you going to identify how to improve your business and drive it forward?  You may think, “We are moving along just fine, thank you very much”. But how do you know?  It’s simple.  If you don’t measure and manage, you don’t!  You may be generating revenue but do you really know how much money you are leaving on the table?

Many companies are using CRM as an extension to Contact Management but have not spent the time to take it to the next level.  Most good CRM solutions offer a simple means to automate workflows and track its effectiveness.  With many, you can create a simple, BPM system to start measuring. 

There are many tools and resources you can use to start building your roadmap to CRM success.  Here are a few tips:
  1. Start with a pencil and paper and talk with key stakeholders:  your team and your customers.  You will find that they can sometimes give you the best insight on where you stand, and, give you some great ideas on how to improve things.
  2. Collaborate, share and make everyone feel that they are an important part of this building process. 
  3. An independent CRM business consultant can be a great asset.  Not only do they have the expertise, but they can bring an unbiased approach and dig out information that may not normally be exposed. 
  4. Use a flowchart tool such as MS Visio or an on-line BPM application like those developed by Lombardi.  They can be very useful in creating and modifying for continual improvement.
  5. Implement and leverage a CRM solution.  It will be the glue that holds it all together.

Do you think it is important to have a business process?  Read a case study from BNET, "Developing a "best in class" business process management system".

For more information on how you can build a Best-In-Class CRM solution to improve productivity, increase sales and strengthen customer relationships, contact CRM Connect at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Is There Sales Excellence Without CRM?

I read a great article by Craig Klein, CEO of SalesNexus.com which really emphasized what we, in the CRM world, live, breath and preach.  That CRM is a great enabler of "Sales Excellence".  But, companies should not stop there.  CRM is for "Customer Support Excellence" and "Marketing Excellence" as well as all other customer-focused functions. 

Yes, it is true that you can live without CRM if you are willing to accept that your sales team will not be quite as productive as they could be, will spend more time on updating, preparing and submitting those dreaded sales pipelines and forecasts every month, and not close quite as many orders as they might if using CRM.  Yes, they might have to work harder to achieve the same success as those using CRM.  But does it matter?  We all know that CRM is a large commitment (financially and in internal resources) if it is to benefit your business and its customers.  But, as more and more companies (including your competitors) use the power of CRM, those that don't, will truly be at a disadvantage.   Is there a significant ROI that can be achieved?  This is the "million dollar" question.

These questions can all be answered by understanding your business processes, your company's challenges and what your short term and long term business objectives are.  Choosing the right person within your organization that understands your customers, is business saavy, and can work with all of your departments that interact with your customers and prospects, is the first step to determining what CRM can do for you.  If you don't have the resources to commit to this, take a look at hiring a contract person or consultant with these same traits.

One last comment on "Sales Excellence".  Part of "Sales Excellence" is people.  Your sales team can strengthen their relationships by quickly responding, supporting and having face time with their customers.  This AND the ability to handle as many leads and opportunities as possible, without letting any balls drop, will differentiate those between mediocrity and excellence.   The best way to achieve this is through CRM.

Read Craig's Article

Connecting CRM and CMS

I came from the old school of content management.  My documents resided in folders.  No, not the electronic ones on my PC, but the ones in my filing cabinet.  With the age of computers, I graduated to electronic folders.  But, having no standardized way of organizing them for easy access, I was forever trying to figure out where I had put a specific file and trying to figure out if it was the latest version.  My filing system needed to change as it was a big waste of my time.  Along came Content to straighten me out and educate me on a better, more effective way of doing things.

I now have a website with web content management capabilities.  My choice of poison?  Joomla!  I have to admit, I didn’t choose it because of its capabilities but because it was open source and I had resources to help me through the learning curve.  But kudos to Joomla!.  It has been good to me and it’s one of the best open source solutions available. 

I also use Salesforce.com Content Management which allows me to manage my documents in a more effective fashion.  Using Web 2.0, which facilitates interactive information sharing and collaboration, it’s a lot easier to find the information I need and to push important documents out to my clients.

Using a content management system (CMS) has opened up a whole new world for me, and more importantly, a way to grow my business with limited resources.  I now have the means to organize my web content, publish, share my blog articles and, make it easy for me to be actively involved with social media. 

I don’t have to worry about old versions going out to my clients and if I ever want to collaborate on a web article with my partners, I can do that too.  And the best thing is; I can do it on my own.  I don’t have to worry about outsourcing every time I want to make a change or even if I want to create a completely new website with new content.  My content management system (CMS) can grow with my business.

The Evolution of Content Management

We have come a long way since file folders in a cabinet.  We have high tech and the internet to thank for that.  Our customers, prospects, and employees can access our content on demand via the web, easily and quickly. 

Our customers want all sorts of content.  Not just brochures and datasheets.  They want white papers or e-books.  They want to read articles and blogs that they can access through social media websites that they visit regularly like LinkedIn Groups and Facebook.  They want to find up-to-date information from business-focused resource websites like BNet.  They want to go to technology websites like destinationcrm.com for CRM information and Hubspot for marketing expertise.  And, we need to be there, as well as our own website.

Not only do we need to be able to offer a variety of content in different locations that our customers are visiting, we need to supply content in RSS, HTML and XML.  We need to supply documents as a pdf or in Word for downloading.  And that is just one type of media.  We also have a swarm of other formats for audio and video as well.   Software vendors must be having a heyday selling us software to be able to meet these demands.  Yes, content has changed big time since the coming of the internet and with that, the demand to manage it has become complex.

Why CMS?

I view new technologies and new ways of doing business with a perspective that many of my younger colleagues don’t.  I do not believe in technology for technology’s sake, but believe that there must be significant advantages not only on paper, but in a practical sense.  It is important to understand why you need CSM and what it will do for you.

Small businesses like CRM Connect, use CMS to organize and contain all web based content.  This makes it easy to update, maintain and distribute through all required channels. Other businesses have more stringent requirements and need to organize, review, update and control their secured and unsecured content through workflows.   The more complex their processes and content requirements, the more critical it is to make sure it is managed in a cost effective manner.  And of course, from the customer’s view point, we need to make sure it is available where they are searching and in a format that they want. 

Is the Time Right for CMS?

There will come a point when CMS just makes sense from a resource and cost standpoint.  Some fundamental questions that should be asked include:

  1. Does it significantly improve my productivity?
  2. Will it increase sales?
  3. Does it benefit my customers and/or prospects?
  4. Will it reduce my costs of doing business (sales, marketing, services, and customer support)?
  5. Will using CMS result in a positive ROI? 

The 4 C’s of CMS

Just like CRM, CMS involves people, process and technology, and many businesses have the need to Contribute, Collaborate and Circulate (share) Content.  Make sure you cover the who, what, and how’s of the 4 C’s to help you determine which CMS is the best choice.

Contribute – Who needs to contribute, how do I want them to contribute and where should they contribute.  What security levels do I need?

Collaborate – What types of content do you need to collaborate on?  How do collaborators access the content?  Is version control important?  Who do people need to collaborate with?  Do I need to implement workflows for better productivity?

Circulate and Share – How do people access the content?  Do I need to have specific content available through my website, extranet and intranet?  What format is best for sharing?  Do you want to push out information automatically by setting up subscriptions to workspaces?  Is the content going to be shared by other applications such as a web-based knowledge base, or your CRM?

Content – Consider the types of content that you have.  Is it used for marketing, sales, service, and customers?  Do you need to update it frequently?  Is it graphic-rich, multi-media, large or small file size?  How will content be maintained and by whom?

The First Steps Into CMS

It’s not surprising that the number one pitfall for CMS failure is not aligning the correct solution to the company’s requirements.  Just like CRM, make sure that you identify your objectives, create a strategy and build a culture within your organization that will help CMS succeed.   Make sure that you cover all technical, business and content process requirements.  If your organization has more complex requirements, a toolkit by SDL Tridion can help you through this process. 


I have recently been thinking about the importance of content management and CRM.  Both tools can be used to support the customer and to help make businesses more productive and lower their costs.  Integration of these two applications will help in eliminating silos by giving better visibility and making it easier to access content whether you are in sales, production, engineering or marketing or a customer looking for an answer.

Choosing a CRM and CMS solution that will allow you to listen to the voice of the customer, have access to a knowledge base and supporting content, and capture historical data through a single user interface will be a tall order.  One such solution that is going in this direction is Orchestra CMS by Stantive Technologies.  Stantive not only offers content management solutions, but, they also use Salesforce.com  which has integrated Twitter and Facebook into its application so that we can listen to the voice of the customer and respond to their needs.  Microsoft Dynamics CRM can also be integrated to CMS like SharePoint for additional functionality. 

It will be interesting to see what the CRM world will look like in the next few years as the complexity of the internet evolves and our customers rely more and more on the content that they can find in cyberspace.  But, with the right tools and the right strategies, we will be able to meet them out there and respond to their needs.

Want to know where to go from here?  Contact CRM Connect, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

The Value of Customer Loyalty

handshake1Our customers should be treated like family.  They determine how successful our businesses will be, how profitable we are and will help us develop strategies to continuously improve what we do and how we do it.   One company developed a win/win strategy by putting customers first.  The results:  They increased their customer service revenue by 300% and put money in their customer’s pockets.  Seem like an oxymoron?   

The Challenge:

Approximately 60% of FOBA’s1 sales came from their existing customer base.  Not only did their valued customers significantly impact product sales, but the service department counted on them to make a significant impact on their bottom line.  No doubt about it, the customer was pivotal to FOBA’s success, but to maximize on the potential revenue from their customers, it was crucial for them to become more customer focused.  The service department realized that they should be generating more revenue than they were.  It was a very clear signal to FOBA that they needed to make drastic changes if they wanted to be recognized as a world class laser manufacturer where customers come first.

But FOBA had to overcome one key obstacle:  Their current process was not conducive to generating loyal customers.  Changes had to be made.  They needed to use an application to capture all critical customer data which was easy to customize, would offer 360 degree visibility to all customer focused departments and was flexible enough to roll-out globally.   By using CRM, FOBA was able to move forward and launch a strategic plan to improve customer loyalty and increase sales.

The Objective:

FOBA's objective was to win back customers, improve customer loyalty and double service revenues in North America.  For FOBA to achieve this, several departments would need to participate and focus on their customer’s needs.First on the agenda was to lay the foundation which would allow FOBA to meet its objectives.  This included:

  1. Developing a standard customer service process which would then be automated using Salesforce.com.  This was crucial for the tracking of cases and returned parts and to improve communication between FOBA’s customers and its sales and support teams to ensure nothing fell through the cracks.  A process would also pave the way to collecting and analyzing business intelligence information for future improvements.  An absolute must for all progressive companies who want to grow and maximize profits.
  2. Customizing Salesforce.com to capture crucial data on customer-owned systems so that related service issues could be tracked effectively.  Developing analytics/dashboards would ultimately give global visibility to critical trends.  This would benefit not only the service group but also the R & D and production departments.   Receiving real time data could alert production of potential quality issues quicker allowing them to make the appropriate changes.  The results:  minimal impact to the customer resulting in less headaches and increased productivity.
  3. Importing customer contact and system information into Salesforce.com.  This information previously resided in several legacy applications and had to be collected and verified prior to importing.

The Strategy:

To achieve FOBA’s objectives, several activities were carried out.  These included:

  1. Integrate the standardized customer service process within Salesforce.com.  Using automated workflows would allow FOBA to quickly react to customer requests and resolve problems in a timely fashion.
  2. Create marketing campaigns focused on advertising the new call center services and corporate “Customer Driven, Laser Focused” tagline.  Service newsletters and promotional items such as mouse pads, magnets and a service calendar were produced and distributed.   All FOBA employees were engaged with, and supported these activities to spread the message, “We are here to take care of our valued customers.”
  3. Internal training of all FOBA departments to explain the importance of the campaigns and that “FOBA must be team-oriented and be focused on the customer in every business interaction”.  From sales teams to the finance department, all employees were aware of the marketing initiatives and were empowered to participate and collaborate.

The Wins:

By becoming customer focused, implementing Salesforce.com case management and developing marketing initiatives to win back customers, FOBA significantly improved customer relationships and increased service revenues by 300% after one year.  Implementing the new case management process was also instrumental in increasing their customer’s productivity through system reliability, product knowledge and preventative maintenance actions.

1FOBA Technology and Services GmbH.

The Customer's Point of View
How often do we contact customer support thinking that our problems/frustrations are going to be solved only to realize it has only just begun?  We’ve all been there.  When we call support we want to be heard, understood and we want our problems solved quickly and easily.  This is what we expect from customer service.  If we found a company that offered it, our loyalty would be gladly given and we may even become their evangelists.  But do we give our customers the kind of support that we ourselves expect?  The type of customer experience that offers more than customer satisfaction?  How can we increase our sales, reduce our costs AND offer our customers an experience that will make us heroes?

Excellence through Customer Experience Management (CEM)

Creating a superior customer experience requires that we understand the customer's point of view, states Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, Ph.D in Rules to Break and Laws to Follow. "What's it really like to be your customer? What is the day-in, day-out 'customer experience' your company is delivering? How does it feel to wait on hold on the phone? To open a package and not be certain how to follow the poorly translated instructions? To stand in line, be charged a fee, wait for a service call that was promised two hours ago, come back to an online shopping cart that's no longer there an hour later? Or what's it like to be remembered? To receive helpful suggestions? To get everything exactly as it was promised? To be confident that the answers you get are the best ones for you?" (Peppers and Rogers 2008)1.

Customer Experience Management is a business strategy that focuses and redefines the business from the customer’s view point.  It is not about managing the customer but about managing the experiences that the customer has with our business.  CEM must be embraced by the entire organization to be successful.  Just like CRM, it is a culture that must live and breathe from inside and outside our business. To achieve maximum ROI, it is imperative that business silos are eliminated, business processes are developed, customer expectations are clearly defined and that key metrics are tracked.  Only then will the foundation be set to offer our customer excellence through CEM.

Why is CEM important to my business and my customers?  Small and midsize businesses (SMBs) receive, on average, 21.5% of overall corporate profit from their service operations making customers pivotal to a successful organization2.  But surprisingly, many companies feel that they are not doing enough to ensure that they achieve this or capture additional sales from their customers. 

When one considers that it cost about 5 times less to do business with our existing customers, shouldn’t our operations be focused around them instead of solely for us? Best-in-Class organizations can achieve high levels of customer retention, increased service profitability and productivity with Customer Experience Management (CEM).  In fact, 60% of all respondents in a recent Aberdeen report2 plan on implementing CEM in the next 3 years.  The driving force?  The need to improve customer satisfaction, customer retention and increase cross-selling and up-selling.  


Best-in-Class service organizations have achieved 89% current customer retention, 28% current service profitability and 17% improvement in productivity by implementing CEM and improving performance efficiencies within the organization.  But, this success could not have been achieved without tracking and reporting customer facing metrics.  In fact, 76% if these organizations stated it was integral to this success.3

How do I go about developing a CEM to meet my business needs?

There are 5 key steps to developing a strong CEM platform.  They include:
  1. Identify your objectives –Do you want to increase customer retention by 30%, reduce service resolution time by 40%, increase service revenue by 20% or increase customer satisfaction by 40%?  Understand where you are today and where you want to be.  What’s in it for you and what’s in it for the customer?  Come up with key objectives that are attainable.
  2. Develop a strategy –Think of this as a high level plan to meet your CEM objectives.  Make sure you include how you are going to capture feedback from your customers and analyze the information received. Identify how to act on this data to improve your procedures and increase customer satisfaction.   And finally, you need a vehicle to measure what you have put in place.   If you are currently using a good CRM application, it should offer you the means to develop and implement your CEM strategy.
  3. Create business processes – This step is critical in making it all happen. Without it, maximum ROI will never be achieved.  Take some time to create your process maps and align them with you customer’s needs.  Make sure all key stakeholders are involved and are 100% behind the new procedures.  Doing this step right will allow you to automate workflows and eliminate silos resulting in increase productivity and reducing your costs.  Don’t think you need to do this?  Think again. If you and your team don’t have a process, how will customers know what to expect?   Consistency due to good customer-focused processes will bring great rewards.
  4. Track metrics – You’ve heard of the saying, “if you aren’t measuring you aren’t managing”. Analyzing how well you are doing is needed for continuous improvements to CEM.  It is the acid test on how successfully you are meeting objectives and can let you know what your ROI is.
  5. Get customer feedback – How will you ever know if you are successfully meeting your objectives, improving customer satisfaction or if you have achieved customer experience excellence without the voice of the customer?  Not sure where to go next with CEM?  I am sure your customer will have some ideas.



The Last Word on Customer Experience Management

Our customers are busy.  They want to do things quickly and painlessly.  Make sure they can engage with you the way they want to be engaged but also give them a unique experience.  It tells them that you know they are important.  Leverage customer portals so they can access a knowledge base, create service cases, view invoices and place orders on-line.  Personalize this experience by adding their logo to their portal or creating personalized messages with helpful tips. 

The voice of the customer is everywhere due to the internet and social media.  Don’t just stick with questionnaires to get feedback.  Use LinkedIn groups, Twitter, Facebook, newsletters and blogs to strengthen your relationships, generate ideas and make it easier to communicate with your customer they way they want to communicate.

Jessica Debor said it well in her article, CRM Gets Serious4.  "Loyalty is now driven primarily by a company's interaction with its customers and how well it delivers on their wants and needs."   How loyal are your customers?

Additional Resources: 

1. Peppers, Don and Martha Rogers, Ph.D. (2008), Rules to Break and Laws to Follow, Wiley, ISBN 978-0470227541
2. Zack Westenhofer and Sumair Dutta (January 2009).  “Service Management for SMBs:  Employing a Strategic Approach”.  Aberdeen Group.
3. Ian Michiels (September 2009).  “Customer Experience Management:  Engaging Loyal Customers to Evangelize Your Brand.”  Aberdeen Group.4. Debor, Jessica (2008-02-20). "CRM Gets Serious". CRM Magazine. http://www.destinationcrm.com/articles/default.asp?ArticleID=7495&TopicID=8
Customer Experience Management, The Next Frontier
coffee_cupsShaun Smith’s “Customer Experience Management (CEM) The next frontier for support centers” creates a good case for CEM.  Read how the staircase to customer loyalty and transitioning customer service from a cost center to a strategic business unit will improve the customer experience and increase your revenue.

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