Magazine article CRM Magazine

A Delicate Balance: Are CRM Vendors Sending Mixed Messages, or Complementary Ones?

Magazine article CRM Magazine

A Delicate Balance: Are CRM Vendors Sending Mixed Messages, or Complementary Ones?

Article excerpt

SOMETIMES IT SEEMS CRM vendors are a contradictory lot. On one hand, they provide thought leadership for the future of customer interaction, and invent new ways to provide better outcomes for the parties on either side of the transaction. On the other hand, they use up a lot of air telling prospects that CRM software is not a waste of time and money, and convincing them to move off of homegrown, spreadsheet-driven systems. I wonder: If CRM is so necessary and so advanced, why are so many businesses still in the dark?

It's an easy question to ask (although it took me a thick introductory paragraph to do it), but not so easy to answer. I'll try anyway, because otherwise this will be a pretty short and dull column. The issue is one of managing expectations at both extremes.

Think about it. There are eleventy trillion businesses (give or take a few) in the United States alone. Some of them are long established firms, some are just starting out, and all of them have different needs and levels of sophistication. Older businesses can sometimes get stuck using old or makeshift technology because they don't have the resources to make a timely change. The newer and smaller companies might not have the experience to know that they need something better than contact management and spreadsheets--and those that manage to survive have to learn.

Not every potential CRM customer is in such a position, though. Many have risen above unsatisfactory practices and technology and can take whatever new awesomeness the vendors have to offer. More importantly, they have realized that their customers are always hungry for whatever advantages they can get.

For the former group of customers, a simple message is usually best, since they need a good deal of hand-holding. Science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke famously said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. …

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