As the co-inventor of ACT!, the product credited as the catalyst for the customer relationship management industry, I’m surprisingly not a champion of the concept of “managing relationships.” I don’t think entering data, scheduling activities, or even communicating with someone amounts to “management” in any meaningful way. Even if the concept of managing customer relationships was the premise for the industry, the actual result is really a tool for management to oversee an employee’s activity, communication, and progress with their customers and prospects, not the employee’s tool for building or maintaining meaningful relationships.
CRM Isn’t The Answer
According to a study by Gartner, the leading Information Technology research firm, only 50 percent of Fortune 1000 companies using CRM systems reap a significant return on their investment. Hence, it’s time for a new perspective! I wholeheartedly believe meaningful relationships lead to success in business–in our personal lives, too, but that’s a subject for a separate article. Without meaningful relationships, our chance of success wanes, perhaps to the point of nonexistence.
Manage Your Reputation Instead
If you can’t manage others to achieve success, how do you get there? By managing yourself! This new perspective requires a very slight shift, from customer relationship management to customer reputation management. You can manage the ways in which you build and maintain the perception of your reputation with customers and prospects. When you demonstrate professionalism, concern and commitment to helping others succeed, trust is the result. Trust that the other person is important enough to you to record the details you learn about them. Trust that you will do what you say that you will do. Trust that may even earn you that all-coveted referral.
The Deciding Factor
You may not be able to manage another person simply by entering information in an application. However, if you use those tools to remember details others forget, you’ll stand apart from your competitors who may or may not offer a better product or service. With each interaction, you can prove that all things being equal, your reputation is the deciding factor.
The quality of your reputation, good or bad, will be reflected in your success. Looking at it from that perspective intensifies the reasons to use relationship management and organizational tools. After all, who doesn’t want to put their best foot forward? Especially when it impacts your bottom line! CRM systems can only help you to manage contacts, calendars, and communications, but when you do so with diligence and professionalism, the natural result is a good reputation.Read more