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STRATEGIES
 


CRM Best Practices
By Jennifer Schiff

July 25, 2005

Tip 4: Make sure your CRM solution will keep your data safe

Many small businesses often don’t think about all the critical customer data that sits on the typical salesperson’s PC just waiting for someone with a floppy disk or USB drive to download it and walk away. So when considering a CRM solution, make sure you think about security and discuss any issues you may have with vendors.

As Tien Tzuo notes, you don’t store your money under your mattress if you want to protect it, you put it in a bank. Similarly, for some small businesses, keeping your critical customer data off site, à la Salesforce.com, can make good security sense.

Tip 5: Hire experts to help with implementation and training

“We recommend that you bring in somebody to do the initial implementation,” says Salesforce.com’s Tzuo. “We have a network of regional partners that can help you do the rollout. I suggest this because small businesses are time strapped. It’s not like they have an extra two hours a day to do [the implementation and rollout]. Having somebody come in to help you get through the process lets you do it in a one-, two-, or three-week time frame.”

Similarly, NetSuite customers can choose to have installation and training taken care of by someone from NetSuite’s professional services team, a certified NetSuite partner, or they can do it themselves. Not surprisingly, “About 85 percent choose to have NetSuite or a NetSuite partner help them on the initial roll out and training,” reports Nelson.

Tip 6: Set realistic goals and periodically measure your progress

Many small businesses, in their impatience to generate more sales, set unrealistic goals, starting with the amount of time it will take to install and roll out their new CRM software to the entire sales force, as well as other users.

“It all depends on how much of the software you’re using,” says NetSuite’s Nelson. “For very simple CRM it could be a month. For more complex CRM, including order management, Web site management, Web site hosting, it could be three months. There are three steps to implementing the software: One, what’s my business process? Number two: How do I take that business process and implement the software? And then number three: How do I train my people to use this new software? This all takes some time.”

Once you have the system up and running and you’ve trained your people, “Start with a few quick wins,” counsels Tzuo. “Know where you are going, but start with a few quick wins to help you get there.”

Lastly, make sure you have a way to measure success. Periodically check to see if you are meeting your pre-defined goals. And above all, remember, your CRM system is only as good as the information that’s in it.

Additional resources

For additional information about CRM best practices, visit Salesforce.com’s CRM Success site. Siebel also has a public CRM Best Practices site. To compare the leading CRM packages for small and mid-sized businesses, go to 2020software and click on “CRM Solutions.” There you’ll find stats on the different software packages as well as pricing information and free demos. Also be sure to visit each vendor’s Web site.

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff writes about business and technology.

Article adapted from Small Business Computing

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