Bringing the Stakeholders to the Table

So last week I talked about Diving Into CRM, getting your feet wet and yet taking a methodical approach to installing and most importantly implementing CRM.  I described the six steps in creating a Design Document:

  1. Bring all the key stakeholders to the table to discuss big ideas.
  2. Take the big ideas and put them into actionable steps.
  3. Get all the Go/No Go items on the table: Is a new server needed?  Are you integrating it with any other program?
  4. Discuss the CRM Policies that tell users how and why to use the system.  This makes up 90% of a successfully used CRM system.
  5. Provide a timeline and path for training super users and regular users.  Good training makes up the other 10% of a succesfully used CRM system.
  6. Give a framework for how the actual installation and implementation will proceed. 

Today, I will discuss Step 1: Bring all the key stakeholders to the table to discuss big ideas. 

Asking the Questions

Once a customer signs on for a Design Document, I first schedule a meeting with the project leader within the customer and ask this person to invite all the key stakeholders involved.  For now, just the managers of each department that will use CRM is perfect and manageable for the person doing the Design Document.  Once I have each person around the table, either at the same time or through various meetings, I begin to ask the questions.  I usually don’t have any set questions apart from the ones listed below.  These questions usually give rise to others that are unique to each customer.

  • Describe your business model?
  • How do you get new customers?
  • Do you have a prescribed marketing and/or sales process you follow?
  • How do you satisfy current customers? 
  • How do you deal with customer issues?

As you can read, these are pretty generic but they are a good starting point for a Design Document.  I view the questioning aspect as organic and flowing rather than as a rigid set of questions I never defer from.  Each company is unique and will use CRM differently. 

I have walked into customer knowing just the generic marketing description of what they do and walking out with a real understanding of exactly what they do, how they do it, who they target as customer, and so forth.  I had no knowledge about boiler cleaning or environmental testing laboratories, but after working with these clients, I can talk – if not extremely in-depth – at least knowledgeable about what they are doing using the terminology they use.

Learning Their Lingo

Speaking of which, bringing the key stakeholders to the table does help me learn and use their lingo.  I use the customer’s terminology because I’m designing a CRM system for their use not mine.  I need them to know I understand their business and I need users to use the system.  If I don’t user their lingo, then the users don’t realize that an Account is actually a Client or an Opportunity is actual a Project.  This is their CRM system and it should reflect how they define things. 

Managing Expectations

Gathering the stakeholders together also helps me understand the expectations each department is placing on a new CRM system.  Some will have higher expectations than others and some will have unrealistic expectations.  Some may even have no expectations because they don’t really care about a CRM system or think this one will fail just like the last one.  This is a great opportunity for a good CRM consultant to begin managing expectations.  Raise the expectations of those who don’t have any and modify or temper those that have unrealistic expectations for how much a new CRM system will be able to do for them.

Understanding expectations and keeping them in a manageable range is also KEY to delivering a Design Document that meets their needs but ultimately a CRM implementation that meets the goals everyone has agreed upon.

getting buyinBuilding Buy-In

As I mentioned above, during the design phase I always find at least one department head who doesn’t care or thinks this CRM system will fail just like the last one.  I make every effort to get this person’s buy-in to the project and to see its potential for the company and for their department.  Part of getting the buy-in is not so much a science as how competent do I look.  If I’m asking the right questions, they see I’m learning their business, they hear some of the recommendations I toss on the table as another way to show that I hear what they are saying, then I begin to earn this person’s trust and even get them excited.

Building the Buy-In also gets department managers to realize what other parts of the business are doing, how they see CRM in use for their department and where any cross over and key functionality can be built in to utilize CRM as a truly organization wide customer relationship management system.  Sales can see what marketing has done against a customer and see the service call history a manager customer has made over the last months or years that may lead to more sales potential.  The more people see the value of CRM and especially the more people across departments see the value the more people will adopt to it and use it to its fullest potential.


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