CRM consultants can provide the insights and knowledge that will help you realise your CRM vision. The best will have relevant and recent experience of CRM projects, and will guide you away from the pitfalls and expensive errors. Working with your team, they will transfer the skills you need to assure long term CRM success. But over time, when many of us get “sick of the experts”, here are our top tips on getting the most out of your CRM consultants.
Here at Collier Pickard, we provide a range of CRM consulting services. These include product-specific technical services and product-agnostic best practice workshops showing business leaders how to “Manage through CRM”. The skills and backgrounds of our consultants include specialists with a near encyclopaedic knowledge of one particular CRM platform, and generalists with a background in business management. Getting the best from these very different types of consultants requires different approaches. Mastering the right approach to the right consultant consistently delivers improved results.
No problem too small
The best consultants are “problem solvers”. They solve the problems that you either lack the knowledge, experience or time to resolve yourself. As such, it is important that you are clear on what problems you are looking to address. Often, what consultants are asked to fix is the symptoms of a problem, not a core problem. For example, if you think that your problem is trying to decide which CRM tool to buy, then you may not have identified the real issue. What do you need the CRM system to do? If you already have a CRM system, why are you changing it? What do your clients think about the way you manage your relationship with them?
This is going to hurt you – more than it’s going to hurt me!
Having framed the problem you need the consulting services to address, be prepared for some bumps along the road to the solution. A major benefit of independent CRM consultants is that they can approach your business with a fresh perspective. They are not bound by politics or ingrained with your company best practice and culture.
This can be challenging for those within your organisation who are uncomfortable with change. Indeed, if your goal is to re-enforce the way things are currently done, then external consultants are not the best way forward. However, if you are genuinely looking at how to improve things in your business and are open to change, then a consultant’s objective view is essential.
Start with the problem, not the solution
If you can phrase your problem clearly and are willing to consider changes, then a consultancy service will help guide you to a solution. To ensure that you get the best from your consultants, take care not to give them the answer/solution you have already decided on! Using consultants to validate an approach you have already decided on can provide excellent value. You can reduce the cost of the engagement by being clear about what your problem is.
So if you are looking for a “paper trail” to show you did your due diligence, don’t commission a review of the markets options and analysis of requirements! Go straight for a “validate my approach” project, saving time, money and building buy-in across the business.
The iron triangle is clear. You can have fast and good – but it won’t be cheap. You can have cheap and good – but it won’t be fast. You can even have fast and cheap – but it won’t be good. Despite everything you see on the consultants’ website, they cannot change the iron triangle. So if you are looking at consultancy services to reduce costs, improve quality or reduce the time to deliver your project, recognise up-front the trade-off you are likely to encounter.
CRM consultancy services are not a magic wand that can make the impossible, possible. They are a way of reducing risk and improving the way you acquire, retain and develop long term, profitable customer relationships. To get the very best from CRM consulting services requires clarity of purpose, honesty and flexibility. In many ways it’s the same things you do to build better relationships with customers.