Recently it seems like the world is looking for a CRM guru. It’s all very well if you want to start a cult (I don’t) or want clients reliant on you forever (no way). But with CRM, as with most real investments, none of them work if you don’t do the work. In this case, I’m talking mostly to a small business owner, but the lessons apply in many other situations too.

Surely I can outsource that?

There are many things you can (and probably should) outsource in your business. Challenging technical tasks that you only do once (whether that is designing a great logo, installing a network, or creating system integrations) can be very effectively outsourced (or automated). Repeatable, process-driven activities that waste a leader’s time can also be very effectively outsourced (or automated).

What can’t or shouldn’t be left to chance is the design and execution of how you work with your most valuable commodity – your customers! Understanding the key touch points and conversations, designing, implementing and monitoring your CRM and the related customer activities.

Are you saying I need to be an expert here?

No! You don’t need to be an expert. There are plenty of us out there—some with deep expertise in particular products or processes or someone like me with a broad and independent view of what is out there and what is possible. The one thing I know for sure, though, is that the role of these experts is as a guide. No one knows your business, your team, and, most importantly, your customers like you.

The promise of someone coming in and making all your problems disappear is very alluring. We’ve all been there, right? I’ve bought courses and services on the promise of the transformation it will bring me. The challenge in all these cases is transformation comes from within. All the knowledge and advice in the world don’t magically make you (or your business) different.

So how does this work with CRM technology?

When I work with clients, I often can quickly tell them the type of CRM they need and direct them towards several products that might meet their needs. The surprise often comes (for me and the client) in what they choose. It is often not the “best” software, but more importantly, one they can realistically get working in their business. Whether it is because of a seamless link with an existing important system or similarity with something that the team uses already, the most important trade-offs are not only between price and functionality but also, importantly, the use and impact within the business.

If you ask me to be your guru, you will benefit from getting closer to the decision to understand the trade-offs and impact. And if you and your team end up not working in the CRM and exploring how to make the most of it yourselves you will either have a white elephant.

Does this mean I need to become a CRM nerd?

You don’t need to become a CRM expert yourself. However, you do need to own your own customer processes within your team. Whether that is having one person who loves exploring and thinking about how you can make the most of the software you buy or just a team committed to using it effectively.

There will always be experts to answer the hard questions and build the complicated things. But they need to work on things that will serve your business and customers. A guru who you hand over control to can work to their own agenda, and that is the last thing you need!

The final piece of the puzzle is the commitment to transformation. If you want to make the most of new technology, there is usually a transformation required in your own thinking and processes. An expert can guide and support you, but only you can lead that transformation in your business and yourself. Underplaying the time and effort involved is the main reason why so many software purchases are poorly used and don’t deliver the promised benefits. It is not easy, and you want to be careful what you commit to… but commit you must!

I’m always open to a conversation about CRM, and I promise no guru robes will be on show. Feel free to book in for a conversation.