Thank you everyone for joining us for today's call, the evolving role of CRM systems in the wake of COVID-19. Shawn Windle is our speaker for today. Shawn is the Founder and Managing Principal of ERP Advisors Group based in Denver, Colorado. We also have a special guest today, joining us, Erica Windle, Principle of Operations at ERP Advisors Group, and on today's call we will explore the evolving role of CRM systems in the wake of COVID-19, as well as how to find the right CRM to meet your needs, Erica and Shawn, welcome.
So Shawn to begin, can you provide an overview of what we are seeing with our clients as to why CRM systems are so vital right now.
Yeah, it's the, realities of COVID-19 and the kind of the effects of people not working, the aftermath, I mean there's a lot of words: pandemic, epidemic, there's a lot of like, wow, there's a lot there. But the realities are that life has changed, right, and we'll get back to a new normal, but what does it look like? I've been able to go to my client sites, several of them, but you know, we check in advance. You know what are the protocols that are needed, and do you need a mask and what do you do with all the rest of the stuff that goes with it right? And so imagine if I was a salesperson, who used to go on site and I knock on the door maybe there’s a little sign that says “no solicitation” maybe. But I'd still knock on the door, which I've done in my life, absolutely, and I've actually offered free accounting assessments, at one point, I wasn’t selling anything but I was offering something for free. It was great.
But if you're coming into a business to visit and you're not invited everything's different. so that change, as well as calling into a business, is interesting, because you know you dial the 1 (800) number and you ask for a certain person and that person is not there at that phone number. They’re at home, and they're on their cell phones, so there's a lot of adjustments that people have had to make, especially from a sales side, and when you see the behaviors need to change that's when the software has to change. Software is just a reflection of how people do things and helps to do it better. And so customer relationship management, specifically around on CRM, specifically around what we call Salesforce automation. Which, what are the tools that help the Salesforce to be more effective, they've had to kind of evolve. We talked about e-commerce solutions not that while ago. We weren't in person, so it's nice to be back in person for that. I think we've got some sterilizer around here somewhere, we'll kind of wipe it down when we're done, don't worry.
But now you know e commerce makes sense because that's right in front of the customer it's the website in there, but now in terms of managing the customer relationship from a marketing automation, from a sales force automation, customer service. So with a distributed team, right, if you have an internal organization that has sales people here and there, you have customer support people that are all around the marketing teams all around; to not have those centralized tools where you're managing exactly what's happening can really be a disaster. like talking to a client a couple days ago.
Used to very much having their salespeople get least get together in person, a couple times a week. And, being a salesperson myself, I like to talk and I don't necessarily like to type. So it's helpful when you can sit down and sit across the table, we do a lot of sales meetings, and a lot more happens when we talk versus looking at a pipeline report. So putting more rigor and emphasis on the CRM tools now is especially important the bigger that the sales team gets, so we don't want to be cliche and leverage the COVID-19 experience about why companies have to get CRMs in place, but the results of the change in behaviors that everybody's having to go through, whether it's external customers and who you're selling to, or an internal how we share information. It's just made those functions more important to do it right, and to get everybody on board with going through those processes. You know, there's a lot of great tools out there, but actually using them is the most important thing. That's probably the biggest thing that I'd say right now.
Juliette: Because they were important before but just that much more important.
Shawn: That's right. That's exactly right. Yep.
Juliette: So, Erica thank you for joining us.
Erica: Thank you for having me.
Juliette: So considering CRMs what functionality should we reasonably expect from any CRM?
Erica: Yeah. Yeah, that's definitely a really good question. I am the front line for our sales team and I field the incoming calls from any of our prospects, who are interested in changing software. Lots of times that revolves around their ERP, but it does a lot of times, spread up this upstream to the CRM or downstream to other parts of the organization software. So when you ask that, it makes me think of lots of different use cases of professional services firm like ourselves versus like a really inventory heavy company where they're doing a lot of order management, purchasing, inventory shipping. So like most basic sales tools I think irregardless of what kind of industry a person is in there's a ability to quickly access all your contacts in one place, and that you have a contact record, and that you have a company record, and you can detach the contacts from the company because, even in the five years I've been here, we have contacts that change. They've changed jobs, not routinely, but we’ve had several clients who have been in several companies, so you want to be able to preserve the company as a somebody want to be able to preserve the contact because the companies.
You have a relationship with each, so as I vetted CRM software in the past that's actually been really important. I need the contact and the company, and I need to be able to marry them up or take them apart; that's just super, super basic
Shawn: But even that though Erica, just getting the basics in helped you to be more effective right? Even though it's like a basic it's like really super important.
Erica: Yeah, because you know John Smith, who was at ABC Company and now he left ABC Company, but I have all the history of the different interactions on John Smith’s contact record and now he's now he's at XYZ company. And I can remember, usually I can remember, but sometimes you start to forget. Oh yeah, that's right, we talked about this situation when he was at his earlier company so that you have a trail to kind of keep the keep things going; which is also helpful as you're expanding and get bigger. Or somebody gets promoted and somebody else is coming in, life in business is moving too fast to go and get a download from the person who held the post before you to find out what's all the details about John Smith or ABC Company.
Things that are indispensable to me as the main person kind of driving the sales interactions has been honestly a scheduling tool and maybe I'm not fortunately not had to do the door to door knocking on the doors for this line of work and we definitely have clients who do, but if they've had to shift to a different mode of operation, like being able to rapidly and easily schedule somebody for a meeting. Because expecting to reach somebody on the phone the minute you call them I mean, at least with our prospects and our clients, you're not going to just reach people.
So, making it easy for your prospect to be able to interact with you by providing a very easy interface of a meeting link that is that is a key because I have looked at almost every meeting link out there and they are not all very easy to use, so being able to provide that so people can get on your calendar. “Yeah, I want to talk to you about that statement of work or I want to place that order.” And so they know that they can reach you, and they're not playing phone tag, because there's a little exhaustion that happens over playing phone tag and the sales process. Like the thought that the person has it in that second that they want to do something about it and if they run into an IT barrier or a phone barrier, you might have just lost it.
Or even through email. Like, I know that I've experienced like 12 emails can be taken care of in 2 if with a good scheduling app that someone has access to
That's such a good point because you know we've got clients and have like 100 sales people, Right, And we're worried about kind of this, “Okay, how do we do the reporting and the pipeline, and how do we break up all the different qualifications for the leads and opportunities and duh duh duh duh dah,” but if they can't schedule there, they're shot. So, and it's even more important; that's such a great point..
Great, so there it is, like Shawn just mentioned, that the deal tracking are the stages and opportunities and that's kind of part and parcel with any CRM, but like having it in a way that works for your organization to visualize it and to administratively keep up with it is key because I bet at a lot of CRMs and they aren't always that visually… you don't want to use it. I'd rather just keep it on a notepad or a whiteboard. So it does need to be something that you're sales people are willing to administratively keep it up so that the managers or the VPs or the Execs do have the insight into it. So a lot of times when we meet our clients that the sales software has already been handled a long time ago, and they're coming to us for the ERP and the back office software is a little later down the road to invest in, where a CRM software like that's your Salesforce and they've already invested that up front.
So there's usually like a culture already in place and so if you are in the mode of changing software and the Execs think it's time to change the software it is a big change management point to make sure you're not going to pull away what successful for the existing people just because you want to have the CRM now, all in the ERP so we definitely, definitely, definitely see that with the clients. No you're like Salesforce is a very common one, and you're not going to take the Salesforce away from the sales people who don't care if it will be better in the ERP; just something to keep in mind if you're the one picking the software.
I think ultimately for like a 180 degrees, different from our kind of company which I haven't personally used but definitely talked to hundreds of prospects about is, is being able to access the inventory and seeing the status of the customer's account, like if you're selling to somebody regularly and it turns out that they're 90 days behind on their payments, or they haven't paid in a while and you don't want to call them and like make the next sale and like maybe your commissions are dependent on them paying or something along those lines. Maybe you need to be making a customer support call like “Hey what's wrong? And I noticed that we haven't gotten payment.” So the salesperson can help facilitate that if they have the insight into the order system and maybe that's not the culture for every company, but definitely has been something lots of clients have wanted to see. Some, like we just talking to a company right now who put in a very robust order management and accounting system and literally spent millions of dollars just to have the sales people be able to put the order in and go into accounting and it doesn't even work right.
Yeah, they want to build their sales, they have hundreds of salespeople; they want them to be able to look in and see what's in inventory, what's not. The salesperson actually puts the purchase order in to get the items in stock for the customer, so depending on your company's culture, maybe other companies have sales people don't go that far, but that could be something necessary for your CRM if you're trying to get a lot of orders in and out quickly. They were up to 200 orders a day, now they can only do about 100 orders a day because system’s not working right.
Shawn: Kind of come into and we're hoping to help them right? It's a prospective client to us to come in and help them understand what happened like what's the breakdown. So you get like these behaviors that you want your sales people to do when you need them to do, but then the system prevents it, it's like that's not okay. Like, that's unfortunately when people get fired and when the implementation partner gets sued. So we're going to come in there, we're going to get a lot of sanity and hopefully, if they hire us, we'll figure out exactly what happened, and we'll just get through it and just figure out what's happening. That's great.
Good, anything else?
You know just one other thing, more of our technology oriented clients, they probably do have a need in their CRM to track the contracts that the customers sign like a renewal items, renewal dates, and like adding on extra software items or extra users or those kinds of things, and so that's always a little tricky like is that in the CRM, is it in the middle-ware, is it in an accounting is it… so those are depending on your culture and like how responsive the sales people need to be about, you know, maybe they needed to be in the CRM maybe it's just in a document storage, but that sometimes is, like maybe more advanced in the life cycle of the CRM, we need to have all that in the system so we can monitor the contract items.
It is capable of being done.
Exactly. Yeah, like if a customer buys software, if you sell software and the customer buys software and there's a maintenance contract. Well that maintenance contract renews and like you know 1,2,3 years so to remember to call the customer back and say, “Okay your contract is going to renew” Yeah, creating an opportunity, even when you close the upfront sale, but an opportunity for a year from now, so that that kind of cues the salesperson to look 10 months from now to get on top of that, so that's a great point.
Juliette: Thank you for that Erica. So kind of speaking to that, I know on our recent calls we've spoken a lot about data hygiene, but it seems like it gets overlooked often when it comes to CRM. Can you speak to that a bit.
Yeah, yeah, you know, data hygiene is sort of like, I can think of many analogies and they're not very good, I'm getting a little bit older, as a man, and there's certain things that need to be checked as you get older, you're like, What are you doing right now?! Okay, fine check it ugh. It's sort of like that but it is like data hygiene for CRM is everything like everything. Right, we sadly, even through our own migration that you were a part of where we went from one app to another, and we're now in HubSpot, and you know, even now after six months, like, wait a minute, what is that, oh, that's just bad data. But there is a reality with data hygiene that is, that's why we do these calls, this is exactly why we do these calls because I wish people understood this.
Just on a call today on CRM helping a client migrate from their existing systems to CRM and a whole bunch of other stuff right and we're talking about data and I know because I've experienced great projects and freaking hellacious data migration projects. Like one we're in the middle of right now, not the one that we're talking about today but another one that's happening. Yeah we can get the data done and six months later, we're still in the middle of it. And now we're talking about payments and who's going to pay the cost and everything else. And we're doing the right thing on that one, which is great. But, here's the key thing is that you have to do data hygiene on a gradient, and what I mean is, and I really hope that everybody's getting this, is it seems so simple to say “I got all these contacts I want to just clean them you know somebody go clean them.” Okay, good. So you get somebody who starts cleaning them and there they know the data only as well as they do. And then they may pass it to somebody else who knows less about the data, but they have the time, because the sales people don't have the time to do this cleanup right I mean if I went to Erica, “Hey, Erica, you know, we've got maybe 5000 contacts. Can you clean those up, please?” She said “Ok do you want me to close deals or you going to clean the data?” Right? that's just a reality and it's not because sales people are a certain way or whatever, even though they kind of are, but there is a truth to it, even one of our non-profits that we're working with right now where we're pushing requests to the fundraisers, and it's impacting their ability to raise money.
So, what do we do with data hygiene and data migration in this? You focus on the 20% of the data that's going to give you 80% of the value. So if you're if you're looking at, let's just say a contact list, keep it super simple right, and you're in an old system or you've got some contacts somewhere today, right, usually you can export that stuff into an Excel and there's all kinds of fields that go with the contact. Usually there's a field that says last contacted date, we have that in ours; a lot of these apps do. Sort it; so sort that newest to oldest and then if you look at that “You know, most of these contacts we haven't touched them for a while, but this 20% we talked to these guys all the time,” let's get those right. Focus on getting those dialed in, and perfect; and even if you got to call some people and find out what company, they're at or where they've gone to, or do they have new address like a physical address, cause we send a lot of fun stuff.
So I'm going to put in a little plug here, when people refer us to other folks that are interested in our services. We give them a gift, Juliet, you run that whole program and it's amazing; and we give things from popcorn, to wine, to Buicks to, no little Buicks. Not really like a virtual trip to Hawaii right like zoom trips. But we do something, it's really nice for folks. And I think getting a physical address is not easy. We’ve got a couple people that refer us a lot and so, having those physical addresses is vital. So get those right so you can't look at data as you know, boil the whole ocean right you basically have to say, “Okay, this is the most important part, let's kind of take this over here to the side, do whatever we need to do to get 80, 90, 95% correct.”
Get it correct, and then over time you'll start working through some of the rest of it. It's so important. Yep.
So we have certainly learned that from us. So Erica, can you share with us some guidelines for determining what CRM is right for your organization.
Yeah, yeah, sure. You know, I think it does depend a little bit on the stage of your organization. So if you're kind of in start up mode, like I had somebody just this week contact me, and he's got a small professional services company I'm sure he's the one be running the CRM. Like you know when it was just, Shawn many years ago, he wasn't going to run a CRM and he could barely get to the emails at the end of the week, you know, much less okay we go put everything in a CRM over here. So, I would say if you're in the very initial stages, literally Excel is just fine; you just need to keep an Excel or like a Google Sheet to track your contacts and the potential opportunity and the demographic data and start to see what it is that you're using, so that you know what you want the system to do. Because if you don't even if you don't really have a feel for anything it is a little hard to go and look at different vendors and be able to differentiate them.
And we definitely help our clients with that, like we have startup Greenfield companies that come to us, “We're going to be manufacturing and we don't know what the processes are we need somebody to help us.” Okay, we can do that. If you're out there you know solo practitioner just starting you're not going to use our help for that. So that's the very, very, very most rudimentary thing, then you know, usually what happens a CRM, you kind of just find some little best of breed app that works good for a couple users and now you get bigger and you sort organically grow in the Salesforce and so you just end up with what you what worked in the beginning. But if you need to circle back and actually see what does the CRM need for us in this current strategy we're in or growth pattern or geographies, then you need to even just take a step back from the brand of software and like what is the type of solution.
Like, I need a type of solution because we're getting a ton of full of forms from the website and we need a CRM that can process a lot of contact information coming in through our website and route it to different sales people. So you might need more of a marketing automation that goes right into the Salesforce automation tool. But maybe you're more e commerce oriented and so maybe there isn't a, I don't know if there's like, usually a salesperson associated with the e-commerce orders, but then you need something that can work well with e-commerce tool. But then there's just more, like some of our clients they have like the same five customers.
You know, they're not getting a bunch of new customers, they're not going out and, maybe they have opportunities with those five customers, they just need to make it easy for those existing customers to order over and over and over.
So they don't even need all that pipeline tracking and marketing automation, so maybe they just need to get an ERP that has rudimentary CRM so you can just look at the customers contact information, what they ordered last, do you want to order the same thing again, would you like to add something to it, so it's really simple, like they just need…a history of sorts.
Yeah, right, because they could have those five customers that each do 10 to 20 million dollars a year with the organization. These can be big orders, but do you need the ability to track a lot of leads and individuals. That's a great point.
So it does just depend on the businesses. You know how robust, like are you doing one a few customers to a lot of big orders, or do you have a lot of leads you need to process and come down the funnel to get like a few and have a lot of Inside Sales people processing that so really just depends on how you're using the software.
A fantastic answer - you might see Erica on the next CRM selection. Actually, that was amazing, but it really is important, like you said that you know, let's just kind of call a spade a spade in this space right when you hear CRM you think, Salesforce. And Salesforce is a great product, we have many clients that use Salesforce, but it's not the right fit for some clients. We have some clients on Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM. We have other clients that are on different apps like HubSpot, and even some other best to breeds that that are in the marketplace like Sugar and that
And it really, CRM is such a funny place, I have to dovetail on what you're saying that unlike like ERP that's very process centric, it's very data centric like rrrahh, you know, we got to get this invoice and we got to get it approved and then we got to get the… Okay CRM is a little more touchy. I think that's why Salesforce has done so well because they treated their customer as an enterprise sale different than it's a different sale for HCM or for human capital management or for ERP. So with that, I think you're exactly right that just know there's lots of good tools in the market, but you do have to understand your needs and what it is, how your interactions with your customers and prospects looks like. And then you still may end up with a Salesforce, but it's optimized for the experience that you have and things change over time, too, and so having a platform that's flexible, kind of like you said, it's important to have that in mind too. But that's perfect. You're hired. Okay.
You get to keep the job, and we'll see on the next project.
Well, thank you guys for joining us. It was a lot of good information. And everyone thank you again for joining us for today's call. We appreciate you taking the time, please let us know if we can answer any questions you have. We're happy to help. Be sure to join us for our next call Thursday, July 16 internal control over financial reporting with ERP, we will discuss ERP and financial solutions. For Sarbanes Oxley Compliance, including automated internal control compliance testing and how to minimize the cost of such tests; please go to our website ERP Advisors Group.com for more details and to register.
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