Monday, August 2, 2010

A walk through a client's frustration to a sale

CRM stands for what? Or better, what do you think you get for a CRM system?

I posed this question to a client a few days ago and the Executive was like a deer in headlights.

Some background first. This is a client we have worked with in the past, but for various reasons was unable to commit to a larger project last time we worked with them(just before R8 came out) and they are on 4.6!, but not for long :-). IT is on our side, loves Lotus and wrote their apps they use that EVERY person in their organization uses for EVERY client.

Problem is he no longer has time to do updates and as you will see, this created some issues that possibly could lead to them dropping the system. Unbelievable really, but it gets worse.

The organization has limited IT budgets to beyond minimal...for maybe 10 years.

Yes i know what you are all thinking, why waste your time with this no win scenario. They have no money, budget, they have an older server (running quite fine I might add thanks to us) use Exchange for email(not going this post), and supposedly the "employees" use rolodexes, not digital ones, physical ones on their desk.

We walked into our meeting and were joined by the IT, head AA, executive VP and a AVP. My type of meeting. Oh and of course they want to move to one unified system.

We were asked about and shown some documents that must get fixed immediately. Nothing broken, but some federal or state mandating reporting requires changes and well, as the customer put it, all the other Business Partners they contacted refused to work on Release 4.6.

When I asked about the changes, the EVP started pointing out all the issues they have and that they will be getting a CRM system, sometime down the road.

I asked in my usual way, what will you get from the CRM system that the existing application doesn't do?



Deer in the headlights...almost. I don't think anyone had ever asked the question to the EVP.

A short list followed of things the app obviously COULD do, but no one either ever asked or made an effort to learn how to do it. This last part probably sounds familiar to many that have been in similar situations.

After the list was done and it included simple things like agents to run to let people know when a new request came in or that 30 days have past, reports(monthly/annual/weekly), better way to capture inquiries from the web into a core system(did I mention they use a 4.5 app),and some other bits of importance, I proceeded to explain how each either already existed(although maybe needed some slight edits) or could be added with some development work. They didn't even ask about web use or devices. I found out later that they really are not a very technical savvy organization and we will help them with that too in time.

It was like they won the lottery if you could see their faces as we walked them through not only what they wanted but what they didn't think was possible.

We got on the subject of reporting and how it takes between 1-3 hours(?!) to create a graph or pie chart of their data because they do it all manually. They nearly fell over when I let them know there is a much simpler way to perform that task.

The questions just need to be asked and people will let you know what they need...once you can manage their frustration and bias.

The AVP wanted more flexibility. Again, this is a matter of some questions and inputs to understand the requirements but still nothing impossible.

However I countered with our view of flexibility. Flexibility to us is having a platform that can not only run on any Operating System but on any device(they are a Blackberry shop yet when I mentioned the iPhone/iPad suddenly everyone was excited) and naturally be a web client/app as well.

The client is a respected organization and one which potentially we could, if we get everything together, assist in helping them meet their annual goals on many levels.

All because we were able to paint a picture, using their words and needs in a way that encouraged them to stay with a platform that, once updated, will bring them and their field reps into modern times.

Reducing wasted efforts by roughly 25-75 hours a month.
Estimated savings in dollars per month is between $1,250 - $3,750.
Annual savings: 300-900 hours, $15,000 - $45,000

Amount of money and time lost because of indecision on the clients part for the last 4 years(so they said):1,200-3,600 hours and $60,000 - $180,000

This is a minimum ROI to work with(as more details come in this will no doubt grow). No, they are not a huge organization, but they will see an ROI from our work easily within 2-4 months. And this does not include any new business they may earn because of changes to their application.

What will it cost them to see this return for the graph/pie chart issue? Probably zero or at worst a few hours on our part to document it and test it with them, just depends on them really.

Am I backing down from my recent post about value of an Enterprise solution? Not at all, in this organization it does not take much to make something Enterprise level and we are doing just that because it is THAT important to them.

And we can still do it all for 1/2 of what the Microsoft CRM quote was.

Making a frustrated customer happy and saving them money? Priceless


  1. Nice post.
    Curious on how you would solve their reporting needs? Could you give some detail to your thoughts?

  2. @Curt, Good question, since we only have minimal info on the full reporting, I will have to hold off on a full answer.
    However, we were asked to provide some of what i call basic reporting, like how much or many a year or by week or by month type details, something simple enough to create and provide, then convert to pdf. More will be coming on this.

  3. @Lotus Evangelist, Yes, it's a shame we don't have a built in report writer/component in Lotus Notes. If we can't use a view, we have to either suggest exporting to Excel, hard coding solutions or NotesSQL driver tricks.(Which has it's drawbacks). The third party solutions are great but some companies don't want to buy more software. Just wish it was built in. Thanks and best of luck.