CRM 101 – You Can Never Learn Enough.

selltis.jpgCustomer Relationship Management is an important part of managing and improving the sales relationship you have with your customers. One of the Six Rules In Technology Is Not The Answer is “Email is Not CRM”.

Many small businesses are stuck in a vicious cycle of communicating with their customers via email but not doing what it takes to ensure that they really know what customers have bought; what communications have been sent to customers; and how, what and when customers have communicated with them.
There are many CRM providers on the market such as Infusion CRM, Entellium, Selltis, Sage’s CRM Solutions, NetBooks, Microsoft Outlook Business Contact Manager, Microsoft Live CRM, Microsoft Business Dynamics CRM and NetSuite.
I had a lengthy interview, via email, with Selltis to give us more insight into CRM. In this interview you’ll get a taste of what to look for in a CRM product; what the process is what a “typical” CRM installation and more.

Many businesses are still stuck in using email and maybe some databases or spreadsheets. Why aren’t more using CRM?
Change is difficult for most companies to embrace. Many have become comfortable with email, home-grown database applications and spreadsheets, and view CRM as little more than glorified contact management. They don’t have an informed understanding of the functionality that CRM packages now include or the measurable value they bring to their organizations. The fog clears when companies begin to view CRM from a sales process improvement perspective to better manage the “Front End” of the business (lead, opportunity, project and ultimately quote management) and focus on sharing and leveraging critical business knowledge that can directly impact the top line.
There’s several CRM tools available such as Microsoft CRM Live, Microsoft CRM Dynamics, Infusion, Entellium, Sage CRM and a number of other CRM products. When looking for a CRM solution what should small businesses consider?
Of course, there are many factors that should be considered from the very technical to the rather mundane. We believe that, fist and foremost, companies should seek a product its employees will embrace and actually use. That may sound overly simplistic but one of the biggest problems that companies face with CRM is user adoption. Without robust adoption, the goals set for a CRM project will not be met. Prolific and proper use of a CRM product is contingent upon users recognizing real direct benefits — that dynamic can only occur by selecting a product that fits their type of business, offers ease of use and reduces effort while producing measurable results.
What are some particular differentiating factors that Selltis offers?
Selltis’ primary differentiation from competitive products is the vertical focus of its SFA/CRM and PRM software, developed specifically for its target markets. Consequently, unlike generic offerings, Selltis’ basic architecture, its features and functionality, its BPM (business process management) capabilities, its deployment, implementation training and support processes address common pain points experienced by technical and industrial sales teams as well as those in other vertical markets with similar complex sales characteristics. This focus results in a rapid, effective implementation process not generally experienced in connection with SFA/CRM projects and has resulted in Selltis maintaining an uncommonly low attrition rate.
Selltis currently maintains a price advantage over competitors offering similar, albeit not vertically focused, systems. Its subscription service is priced significantly less than major web-based competitors such as and Netsuite while offering a feature-rich, vertically focused system. Selltis gains an even more significant price advantage when customization costs are considered.
Since it was built specifically for its target market, Selltis requires minimal or no customization, thereby resulting in a much lower total cost of ownership versus other solutions, and offers a much faster implementation timeframe.
The Selltis product is uniquely “Hyperrelational”™, providing multi-dimensional, many-to-many connectivity unlike typical flat file or one-to-many relational products. Its single click “create and link” technology allows new data records to inherit all prior related information. The architecture gives users “in sight, in mind” access to multiple related items of critical information more quickly, with full drill-down, in a contextual fashion. The intuitive user interface and instant access to relevant business intelligence is a breakthrough application of existing technology and makes Selltis easier to use than other SFA/CRM products. Employing multi-view desktops, Selltis provides user interfaces that truly match and manage the complex business processes that actually occur in complex selling environments.
Unlike many of its competitors Selltis includes a complete internal quoting module at no extra charge as well as two-way linking with Microsoft Outlook for contacts, calendars and email.
Selltis has further differentiated its product and market approach by weaving strategic selling techniques and its own front-end sales philosophy into the fabric of the software providing essential BPM capabilities. Rather than being merely a contact manager and reporting tool, the product guides users through a sales process, enhancing their ability to achieve goals and obtain greater results.
The SaaS deployment model is particularly beneficial to the SMB market. SMB market companies, particularly in the industrial sector, are more likely to have limited IT infrastructure and staff. Selltis’ web-based model requires no special equipment or technological expertise on the part of the customer. Only a computer and internet access are needed.
Can you briefly overview the migration process of a customer that is moving from email or spreadsheets to CRM? What are some typical scenarios and times before they are using “true” CRM
Based on our experience with first time CRM users, the theme of “slow and steady wins the race” comes into play.
We begin the process by determining the top three to five areas a new client wants to focus on with our product (examples: Lead management, Forecasting via Opportunity manager, Call log with inside and outside sales, Quoting and Quote follow up, etc). Successful deployment of a CRM product requires that goals be set and constantly measured. Beginning slowly and simply with initially limited and well documented goals allows CRM novice companies to gain clear results which reinforce and promote meaningful user acceptance.
We determine what data will be imported into the Selltis system from the various sources that have been previously employed such as contacts from Outlook, product codes from a backend system, information contained in spreadsheets, etc. The data is reviewed, scrubbed and imported.
Selltis is vertically focused and therefore generally requires little customization or alteration to meet the needs of our customer base. Nonetheless, we review management reports, typically contained in Excel spreadsheets or other media that are being used currently as well as any unique business processes. We then design desktops or train the user champion within the client company to design desktops with an easy to use desktop management tool that replace those reports and manages those processes. This effort is initially focused on driving those top three to five areas that the client has designated as priorities prior to implementation. For example, if a company is interested in forecasting, having perhaps done so in the past via Excel spreadsheets, we will train them to focus on the opportunity manager in Selltis and design desktops and workflows that provide one click access to the desired information.
The implementation process, including user training, can take as little as a couple of days but typically requires up to two weeks. The SaaS model allows for virtually instant set up via the Web but data import, customization if required and training, determine the timeline.
Most clients are up and running on Selltis within the first 30 days in line with the initial goals. After three to six months of use, we encourage clients to review their progress and consider moving on to utilize other features that are applicable to their business.
Can you speak a bit about SaaS vs software sales of Selltis – which one are more of your customers purchasing and why?
We now only offer Selltis 5.0 under the SaaS model. The previous version of our product was offered both for purchase and under a hosted model. We abandoned that approach with the redevelopment of our product in recognition of the fact that access to the Web is no longer a serious issue and the software as a service model provides many benefits, especially the elimination of the need for synchronization of multi-user databases. Acceptance of this logic and the new version has been universal with respect to our existing clients. Since rolling out the new version, we have successfully converted over 60% of our customer base and expect the rest to be converted by mid-year. New prospects and clients seem to require little convincing that SaaS is the way to go as they tend to be more informed about the virtues of that approach.
What are some of the differences between what a larger businesses CRM needs and that of a smaller business?
The basic needs, in terms of system functionality, are essentially the same in all complex selling situations regardless of the size of the company; however smaller companies are more likely to not realize that fact. Smaller companies are typically less sophisticated from a technical standpoint and therefore very likely to embrace the SaaS model as it implies no required acquisition of resident software or hardware — only laptops and internet connections are needed. Smaller companies may also be less sophisticated from a business process perspective which requires us to take a more consultative approach to implementation and business process management. Our vertical focus and deep understanding of the industrial sector uniquely qualify us to provide a total solution in such situations rather than just a software package. Our success in that regard is evidenced by our extremely low customer attrition rate.
Larger businesses which may be more technically sophisticated often require back-end integration with their ERP systems and more customization to the base product – these are services that we are happy to provide.
One more question- the feature list of Selltis is VERY extensive – is it fair to think that a lot of the product functionality will not be used? Similar to how Microsoft Word has so many features but so little are used?
With many software packages, only a tenth of the functionality is actually used. Although we have packed much functionality into Selltis Sales 5.0, the degree of use follows a logical flow. Initially, customers may not use all the features; however, as the software begins to evolve as a valuable CRM tool in their organizations, more of that functionality is used. We certainly encourage clients to start slow and grow its use in alignment with the initial focus and related goals. We also encourage them to avail themselves of follow-on training to expand the breadth of the functionality used over time. If the situation warrants, it is very easy to hide features/functionality in Selltis Sales 5.0 and switch them on for later use. Clients appreciate the fact that they can readily access new features and functions that have previously been hidden without the expense of customization or any other form of additional fees.