I've always been a big fan of CRM, real life CRM, the kind of CRM where CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. Not the fake one that is online or in a desktop software which I call eCRM. The e as in Electronic is really not bringing any return on investment.
It has, so far, brought a meaningless tool for managers to prey on the knowledge and time of their sales people. To no shown effect.
You don't agree?
I bet you are one of those managers.
I'll tell you why I know.
Because I met you.
Maybe not You but your body double. Or triple.
Why I met you?
Because I have been in sales for more years than you remember. I am sales.
I know sales from the ground up.
Yes. But that is part of sales isn't it ;-)
Anyway in 1999 I joined a small startup that needed an architect to construct the user interface, the MMI, what you young people call UI/UX. The aim was the boldest, to build the only necessary knowledge management portal software ever.
Remember this was 1999 so we thought we did have all the answers. No limits. Funny thing is that there are still companies that believe that a great UI/UX will fix it on eCRM...
Except the technology available of course. Bloody mess of browsers.
So the user interface needed to comply with anything from Lynx and up; Internet Explorer was the common joke of the time, Microsoft inventing HTML tags that didn't exist in the standard. Netscape. It was hell.
We had to invent browseridentifying algorithms to direct the portal to the best possible GUI output and similar. This was to be able to present the information in a user friendly way so that the maximum engagement level was gained, to get maximum input of information done and be able to get maximum output from executing procedures interesting and easily accessible in the portal.
This was 1999. We didn't really talk CRM, we talked customer information.
Then came CRM and we adjusted to it and the portal was expanding into fields like customer hierarchy, customers customer information and hierarchy, knowledge regarding deals, partners, suppliers etc. So I wrote a paper internally about an intelligence approach on customer relationship management. This wasn't really appreciated by the British owners of the company and we were told to stay on the route of supply chain information management instead and was asked to build an auction module that would later to become very efficient in procurement procedures at various customers.
Which in the end didn't help the company that was killed by share owner battle over cash..
Anyway, the paper lay the ground for the first desktop software company focused on customer relationship intelligence or what it became to be called CI, Competitive Intelligence. The field was a +20 players of specialized software companies that supported internal intelligence operations from government, police and on to commercial companies. Big ones were i2 and search engines like Albert Inc (Hi Azeem:-) from France and Clearforest (now part of Thomson Reuters)and we came with a one cd (!) easy to install and use Windows based desktop software which we called Brimstone Intelligence.
Talk about changing the game. Or not.
Because at that point in time, early 2002 the CRM (eCRM often called) was taking over. Already two years before the players in this field had started to move from desktop to web and Salesforce that started in 1999 was gaining speed as well. Even the ERP providers started to talk customer management even if they hardly could spell it.
So Brimstone turned the other cheek and got into CRM instead of promoting its superior software in itself.
There was no endurance for that. The rest of the story I can tell you at another point in time.
The point I'm making is that CRM isn't eCRM. You cannot transform the behavior of a good or great sales person or a team into a system if you are not interpreting and incorporating each and every member of that team, his and hers sales skills, presenting methods, ethics, way of picking the right timing to contact a potential customer or follow up sales, the chain of thoughts that is going through their heads when reviewing the circumstances of the individuals they are dealing with and much more.
To ask anyone to put that into a CRM-system is like asking me to put the cheese back into the box.
It won't be done.
Even if the boxes where there.
Which they are not.
Not in a CRM-system.
In Brimstone Intelligence at least you could make your own boxes if they were not there.
In Salesforce? Get out of here...
Why not? Because CRM-systems are, with or without glam¨UI, the Managers decision and not the in the hands of the salesman or woman.
Because it is sooo nice to boxify everything in sales into small, nice boxes of information that everyone is supposed to put info into and follow all procedures and behave.
But you know what?
Great salespeople NEVER behave.
So that is why CRM as in eCRM is deader than a Dodo.
But still continues to live on as the managers are still out there to keep them alive.
I will continue to monitor this field of software. It is essential for the effectiveness of our society ;)