In most small and medium-sized businesses, employees are inert about initiatives “from above”: “well, if he wants it so, let him be”, “why resist”, “the initiative has an initiator” … Despite the fact that it is in small companies that employees have opportunity to speak and be heard. We will not delve into the roots of this inertia now, but using a specific example of CRM implementation, we will figure out who needs changes in the company: everyone or just one leader? And at the same time, we will analyze whether these are real changes or a momentary “wish”, which drives the entire company into a complex business process. In general, everything is as always: despots, dreamers, unrecognized geniuses and effective management games.
Idea of change
If it seems to someone that the leader lives his own life, plays big business and does not notice any processes, jambs, successful decisions, changes in the company, then this really only seems. If a leader has a head on his shoulders, he knows absolutely everything about the company. Another thing is that he can adhere to an authoritarian management style and require a hundred reports, he can be an anxious controller and engage in micromanagement, or he can calmly monitor indicators, the situation for the time being, and even – oh, yes! — for the latest office rumors and gossip. Accordingly, he sees the whole landscape, analyzes, perfectly knows the weaknesses and strengths of the company. Most often, he also sees the urgent changes first.
For example, a company operates without CRM systems (so what if it’s 2023, it happened). Works for himself, works, receives revenue, generates profits, introduces ideas for new products, displays old ones, serves customers. And then one morning, employees learn from a letter or other notification that the company has decided to implement a CRM system and it’s time for everyone to start collecting requirements, offering options, etc. Where did this decision come from? I’ll talk about the most basic and obvious triggers.
The manager analyzed the profitability and saw that the revenue structure is based on new customers, the rest of the customer base is “dead weight”, some customers are “stuck” in the sales funnel (if anything, I remind you that this is a common type of report, not an info business find).
The manager saw complaints and requests from clients about forgotten dialogues, letters, unissued invoices, and unproven services. This suggests that employees do not have adequately configured reminders and notifications about missed tasks and cases.
The manager learned about employee conflicts: competition for customers, luring leads, intercepting the initiative of correspondence, “squeezing out” promising customers by senior managers, etc.
We need changes. Conversations and administrative pressure help for a short time, besides, they do not bring any profit for information security. Layoffs are generally a strange thing: firstly, the remaining employees will adopt a behavioral model in relation to newcomers, and secondly, layoffs demoralize the team and lead to passivity and an Italian strike. This won’t solve anything. There is an option: implement CRM. It does not monitor employees (unlike bossware), it can collect analytics, share access rights, create a mechanism for private clients, and automate business processes. At the same time, the manager receives a well-built system of indicators that will reflect the real state of affairs (though not immediately).
CRM is becoming a change idea worth investing in because the outcome is predictable.
It is the leader who determines what the changes will be aimed at in the first place. Often this becomes a point of conflict: those very early birds who gladly accepted the very idea of automation have their own view on the development of the process in the company. They are sure that it is they who “from the inside” know better what is most important, while the leader cannot see the earth from the heavens of his office.
The task of the manager is to focus the attention of employees on the right areas and “push through” exactly those changes that are needed in the first place. The best way: to explain and motivate so that employees have no objections (questions will still remain).
CRM: for whom?
Consider what related benefits of implementing CRM can be obtained by the manager and employees.
Increasing the speed of employees, reducing the influence of the human factor, employees have more time to work with clients and fewer errors.
The routine is reduced, it is convenient to work with documents, reports, sources, clients: all information is collected and processed, there are reminders and notifications.
All the work of employees is presented in visual reports – now these are not guesses, but facts expressed in numbers. You can implement KPIs.
You no longer need to write minute-by-minute reports – the work can be seen in CRM. KPIs allow you to earn more if you work effectively and intensively.
You can control the quality and collect materials for training from call records and mail logs.
You can be sure that a real conversation with a client will be recorded, which will become an argument in a conflict situation.
A single client base has been created, which is stored more securely, all actions are logged.
Colleagues no longer have a chance to steal your lead or lure a client in the middle of a deal.
Business processes are automated and transparent.
An employee always knows when and what he must do in order to complete the work in his area of responsibility at the required level.
You can analyze the client base, make cuts and change the company’s strategy.
You can analyze your transactions and select the best patterns of interaction with customers and clients.
The company has introduced VATS, internal short numbers, convenient telephony capabilities, and communication is cheaper.
Convenient and high-quality connection with clients, a quick way to get through to a colleague, connect him to the conversation.
The manager sees every deal, if necessary, can intervene in the process and adjust the situation. The manager has control and management tools that allow him to see how the work is going.
Employees get a good working tool to help them be more efficient.
We ran through the most basic CRM functions – and you can see that the benefits are always related: if something is good for the manager, then somewhere it is easier and more convenient for employees. Part of the implementations fail or go with a creak just because the manager and other decision makers do not convey this idea of general utility to the employees, but try to force new software. The same goes for project management systems, knowledge management systems, ERP and even corporate portals: until everyone in their place realizes their benefits from new software, well-coordinated work will not work. The idea of implementation needs to be sold to the team in the same way as you sell your products and developments at beautiful meetings with clients.
The will of the leader
When I had to deal with the implementation of business utilities in companies, for example, in France, I was surprised that the implementation initiative often came from below according to the principle: “let’s implement and get rid of such and such problems.” However, even in these cases, an important condition is necessary for a successful project: the presence of the will of the leader.
The first reason is simple and obvious: employees in the company are people with different levels of training, character, focus, and aspirations. The leader, as a person endowed with power and authority, is able to level the complexity of interaction – he acts as an entry point for a problem and an exit point for solutions, thereby smoothing out conflicts and discontent. If anything, we are talking about an average, adequate leader, that is, about the one he should be.
The second reason is the budget. You may want analytics, omnichannel, and automated business processes, but you don’t pay for it. The manager pays for this, so he must carefully study the requirements of the teams and decide whether he is ready to invest in a particular service. You will be angry that you were left without a BI system, and the reason will be banal: the manager does not need such a level of analytics, he does not fit into the vision of the strategy. As a rule, if you do not give in and ask a direct question, the leader explains everything intelligibly.
The third reason: representative function. It is the manager who remains the main decision maker in the company and it is he who participates in key negotiations with the vendor. The manager has a vision of the company, goals and objectives, so it is often (but not always) easier for him to explain where the company is and where it should be due to implementation (essentially investment).
Finally, it is the manager who can directively call for the use of new software, without looking back which employee is in front of him: early birds or an inert opponent of everything new and automated. The methods are different: someone accepts reports and appeals only in the new CRM, someone forces training, someone rewards for successful work in the new system. No, well, of course, someone splashes with saliva and shouts that the cost of the software will be deducted from the salary, but this is still a rare special case.
Therefore, regardless of the self-perception and initiative of employees, the will of the head remains a key factor for making almost any serious decision in the company. There is another model: the leader relies on several strong and trusted managers who are able to manage according to goals and will not do bad things, but, unfortunately, this is also a rather rare case.
By nature, a person is set to resist change – it is easier and more comfortable for him not to change the coordinate system of his working (and life) existence, to choose the same tools, to work “in the old fashioned way”. But what makes a person different is that he is capable of thinking, of directed changes and flexible intellectual adaptation. However, going into biology and sociology, we can say that in order to accelerate all the processes described, power is of particular value. This is not the power where “stomp your foot and everyone ran”, this is the leadership and managerial will of the first among equals. If this is in the manager, then everything else will be: at least the introduction of CRM, at least the launch of the Starship spaceship, at least the renaming of Twitter to X. However, the latter is already superfluous 🙂
Chief Developer RegionSoft