In an occasional series of 'being successful with CRM', I like to speak with Sage partners about their approach to business, how they work with customers to deliver successful Sage CRM installations and what CRM has meant to their own business. In this piece, I talk to Basil Malik, from WAC Solution Partners CRM, based in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the USA.

[David Beard, CRM Principal, Sage CRM] Give us an introduction, Basil to your story & how WAC Solutions Partners CRM (WACCRM) came about
[Basil Malik, Partner, WACCRM] Well, I've been a Sage CRM certified consultant for over 6 years now, though I only started WACCRM in late 2016. I worked with another partner previously but I discovered - and this drove me to start my own consultancy - was so many companies attempting to implement Sage CRM but failing to get what they wanted.  This failing usually occurred by switching all CRM features "on" at day 1 and then expecting the world of CRM to be delivered for their company.  And, sure, this ‘everything at once' – or shotgun approach to implementing CRM as I like to call it - ticks all the boxes in terms of technical implementation as well as items from a wish list. However, it doesn’t truly focus on delivering a matched return on investment with measurable benefits for a customer's specific business.

[David] Unsurprisingly, having written at length about tailoring implementations, I am in complete agreement!   Tell me though, why do YOU think this 'shotgun' approach to delivering CRM projects continues to happen?
[Basil] It's an interesting question - particularly as maturity around IT project delivery is much better than the early days of CRM.  I'd say it is for a couple of reasons - the first is that customers are used to buying an accounting system that is both essential and expect it to be installed & finished in one cycle of implementation.  That buying approach makes less sense when buying an 'across the business' tool that covers multiple data sets, processes and use cases and should evolve with a business over time. The second is - and somewhat linked to my first point - is that customers take that "install in one cycle" thinking in hope of getting a faster  return on investment (ROI) versus taking a step-by-step view over a longer program lifecycle. And, when their consulting partner delivers the big picture story of CRM (which is fine, by the way), but fails to introduce & manage the idea of change management and project return over time you end up with a shotgun delivery - it's quick, goes everywhere and is often not very accurate. I think buyers are very cognisant of points of failure - while the ‘big picture delivery’ engages people, each part of the implementation introduces a possible point of failure along with an element of risk of total project failure. Leaving those unmanaged creates the potential for your own customer to have a negative customer experience with the implementation.”  

[David] Yes, I've seen that approach too with customers saying "sure, we’ll take the whole lot" but then not understanding that the program needs planning, they need to release time for their own people to be involved & the time to deliver usually well outweighs the software cost.
[Basil] Exactly. Implementations turn into a bit of a nightmare because of all of the moving pieces, key points risk getting lost in translation/implementation and (in the worst cases) the customer is left with the concept that “CRM was a waste of resources” when it’s actually an overall failure of the implementation approach. In comparison, customers that take a phased approach get so much more from their CRM system.  I believe my skills - and why I setup as a CRM specialist consultancy - are to help guide customers through the necessary longer life cycle, as the term "business partner" truly suggests, to gain the value from their software. I am a total believer in the "connected ERP & CRM systems offering substantial benefits" narrative - it allows companies to ask provide better service to their customers in whatever role they occupy - and that is the cornerstone of my proposition to my customers.

Next time: What does CRM do for YOUR business: How you leverage the benefits of CRM in your daily operations?

David Beard
CRM Principal
Sage CRM