1 min read

Staying Agile – CRM Goes Mobile

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Many businesses have given a warm welcome to mobile CRM – it helps them work faster and more efficiently. This useful infographic shows you how companies use mobile CRM to their advantage.

3 min read

Why We’ve Adapted Sure Step

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It is a popular notion that delivering CRM projects can be challenging mainly because that every project has many factors and variables that are difficult to predict. Is it any wonder then that CRM project methodologies are constantly evolving in order to overcome these challenges? One of the strategies that have emerged for this purpose is Microsoft’s Sure Step approach, which is arguably one of the most precise and dependable CRM project management methodologies.

Sure Step has proven time and time again that it fosters predictable, on-budget, on-time and on-spec projects. The emphasis is on a thorough pro-active approach that manages the many variables and acts as a roadmap for the client company on the way to a successful project completion.

Getting started with Sure Step

There is a range of valuable resources freely available on the web including industry best practices, technical notes, various project templates and guidelines from the Project Management Institute.

Maintaining control

With Sure Step, every project is divided into 6 parts:

  • Diagnostic
  • Analysis
  • Design
  • Development
  • Deployment
  • Operation

The emphasis is always on careful planning and implementing every requirement to make sure that progress is maintained. There are tools to help the company do this including: in-depth requirements checklists, clearly defined responsibilities and thorough risk and change management guidelines.

Executive and on-going support

By following the Sure Step methodology, gaining executive commitment and support becomes easier. Management have greater visibility of progress and expected outcomes and as a result are more involved in decision making.

The client company can also make use of training, self-support resources and access to the user community via Micorosft’s CustomerSource. After the project has been successfully implemented, Sure Step offers a range of services to maintain the successful project lifecycle on the go.

Sure Step Limitations

Sure Step has helped our professionals to implement many successful projects with its detailed guidelines and strong support tools. However, over the years we have adapted the process to overcome some limitations we and our clients could do without.

For example, we have found that Sure Step works well with a set of measures that are typically established at the outset of a project. A common issue is that the client’s perspective of what they require changes as the process evolves and additional and unforeseen resources to accommodate those changes may be required. And if this change takes place mid-way through the project, there might be “knock-on” issues affecting processes that have already been delivered.

At Redspire, we have developed our own project implementation method which we believe further enhances Sure Step. Our approach, “TrueFIT“, focusses on our clients’ business objectives, before we explore individual business units through a rigorous application of Sure Step within each unit. As a result, we not only optimise their CRM within each unit, but also for the end users and the company as a whole.

Utilising this approach means that we save time at the project’s outset, making more efficient use of our client’s budget and allows us to implement the processes which deliver the best ROI quickly.

The result? A CRM which is been developed on the foundation of core business objectives, which is widely adopted and is fit for purpose.


For more information about how we deliver CRM projects, why not watch our webinar on How to Deliver a CRM Project?

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2 min read

CRM: Making Social Media Work to Your Advantage

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It’s taken a while, but the B2B world is beginning to embrace social media in a way that the B2C bods have been enjoying for quite some time. Social media platforms give us opportunities to instantly exchange information, build contacts and engage with groups, share ideas and open dialogues. It’s changing how we talk to customers, market products and services and network professionally.

Maybe that’s why it’s taken so long for B2B organisations to latch on; the term ‘social media’ doesn’t clearly highlight the potential in the professional sphere. But that’s not to say that the potential isn’t there; now, social media is no longer just about being sociable. Increasingly, these platforms are being utilised in the corporate environment to facilitate the exchange of information amongst colleagues.

Customer data + social media = success

Can you see where I’m going with this one? Over here, you’ve got the fantastic information resource created by a CRM system like Microsoft Dynamics. Over there, you’ve got brilliant ways to share information through social media. Just imagine if you could bring the two together…

No surprises, then, to see Microsoft engaging with Yammer, the internal company communication platform. You might go as far as to say it’s a no-brainer. The new model allows teams with access to the CRM system to plan customer strategies and engage other colleagues in achieving those goals. The potential to speed responses, enhance service levels, inspire virtual teamwork and solve issues quickly is exceptional.

The real beauty of the Dynamics/Yammer connection is the simplicity. Like every great social media platform, it is intuitive, uncomplicated and open. It frees businesses to work differently and think differently, without requiring extensive training for users. So customers will see the benefits almost instantly.

It’s all up to you

Companies that already use Microsoft Dynamics will appreciate the benefits of the Yammer connection quickly. Is there a downside? Not really. The only challenge I can see is the challenge we’re all familiar with from social media. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what additional functionality the system has – it will always be defined by how individuals use it.

Some people will use it just to view news and stay updated. Others will make it an integral part of their working day, maximising the potential of a tool that can support great CRM in lots of different ways. Either way, thanks for Microsoft Dynamics and Yammer, social media has a firmer foothold in the professional sphere.

4 min read

The One Thing Marketers Need to Do in 2014

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As Laura McLellan at Gartner predicts, CMO’s budget for technology is supposed to exceed that of CIO in 2017. What does this mean for you?

With increasing budget for technology, there will be more pressure for good marketing data. So how do you make the most out of this challenge?

The answer is simple: by measuring your data and optimising your processes.

 

Why should you care?

Research shows that staggering 66% of marketers don’t measure their marketing activities and/or performance. So why should you? Well, ask yourself this question: How can you improve something if you don’t measure it?

Imagine that you’re in a meeting with your CEO and they tell you that they need more sales this year. They give you a certain budget and tell you to come back with the best result possible.

How are you going to come back with really good sales figures if you don’t know what’s most likely to make it happen?

Here are you options:

  1. Do what you’ve always done and wonder if something else would work better
  2. Keep doing things at random and hope it works
  3. Start measuring your activity and repeat what actually works

If you’re like most marketers, you’re measuring some things, but are not really sure whether they’re the right things to measure. How do you find out, and which tools should you use to measure your marketing activity?

 

What should you measure?

It’s always good to start with something simple. Start at the bottom of your funnel: track the amount of sales you achieve every month. Measuring this single figure regularly and reflecting on the result keeps you well informed of your performance.

If you want to have a better idea of your situation, the next thing to measure if the number of proposals you send each month. If you know how many sales and proposals you’ve processed each month, from these you can derive your sales conversion rate.

For example, if you sent 5 proposals and made 1 sale, that means your conversion rate is ⅕ or 20%.

Moving up the funnel, the next thing to track is the quantity of leads you’ve generated. If you know this number, you will be able to calculate your lead conversion rate. For example, let’s say you generated 50 leads, sent 5 proposals and made 1 sale. Calculating the ratios of these values will give you a great evaluation of your performance. You now know that you sent a proposal to 10% of your leads and you successfully closed 2% of your leads.

This may not seem very useful. You may be asking now: What difference does it make if I know how many percent of my leads became customers? Knowing or not knowing the reality doesn’t change anything, does it?

The answer to that question is: It does when you know what activities are bringing these results. So to complete the picture, you should measure all the marketing activity you’re engaging in. This includes e-mail campaigns, social media activities, postal campaigns, advertising & PPC, telephone calls, and so on.

Engaging in all of these activities and measuring your results should give you a picture of how well each activity is working for you. That way, you can track the link between each activity and sale and precisely measure your marketing ROI. Ultimately, you’ll be able to determine which activities are leading to most sales.

Each month, produce a report of these activities, and evaluate how well you’re doing compared to the past. Too much work? Not if you have the right tools to do this for you.

 
MS Dynamics CRM 2015 free trial

Which tools should you use to do this?

One of the most powerful tools to gather and analyse all this data is a good CRM system. In fact, a well-designed CRM system will help you track all your business activities and your customer’s journey down the funnel.

That way you can see which of your activities brought the most customers into your funnel, and which types of your marketing activities lead to most successful sales. For more information about how Redspire and Microsoft Dynamics CRM can help you measure your marketing performance, get in touch.

1 min read

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2 min read

10 Things we love about Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 has been here for quite a while now and we have already managed to fall in love with its fresh look, smooth processes and new features.

So what exactly do we love? Well, count with us.

The 5 big changes that transform the CRM experience:

  • The interface: The fact that the UI is much flatter and colourful makes it very easy to interact with and cheers up your tired eyes.
  • It’s mobile: We’re happy to see that you can access Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 from your iPad, Windows 8 tablet and even from your Android, iPhone and Windows phones.
  • Platform investments: Microsoft have reached into their pocket to develop a much better platform. The new platform is more intuitive and a lot easier to amend for the end users.
  • It’s social: The whole enterprise can now communicate via the ‘What’s new’ feed or use Yammer to share files, schedule events and organise themselves in groups. You can even click-to-call anyone in your database after installing Skype or Lync.
  • Better Outlook client: Microsoft have put a great deal of work into isolating the processes that are running in the background so that the Outlook client is faster and more stable.

 

The 5 small changes that are nice to have:

  • Real-time workflow: Now it’s easy to create synchronous (real-time) workflow without having to use any code. This is a great way for the end users to amend their processes, which reduces the system development time.
  • Autosave feature: Your system can now auto-save your work every 30 seconds. This means that if you’re working connected to an unreliable internet source, you don’t have to worry about losing your data.
  • Bing maps & client picture on the record page: These two features bring a nice touch to every record as they break the mass of text. They also serve as a quick way of reminding oneself of the particular client.
  • Quick Create: The new button for creating entities on the fly is great. You no longer have to exit your current screen to quickly add new entities such as phone calls, leads, appointments and more.
  • Recent records: And finally, what we love about Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 is having the ability to quickly jump to a recent record without having to navigate through multiple screens. How convenient!

 

2 min read

Free CRM software: Get the most out of your free trial

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Free is great! And, many CRM systems will try to tempt you to buy with a free CRM software trial. However, you must be prepared if you are to get the best out of a trial. Choosing a CRM solution can be hard work and making a mistake can be costly for your organisation.

If you already use a CRM system then at least you will have something against which to judge the new product. Even then, you should try to evaluate what your current CRM does well and what it doesn’t, you’ll want to have a baseline that you want to exceed.

Free CRM software: The opportunity

Remember that a CRM system is a solution to a business challenge, so ask yourself what questions you want answered by this new tool. Throughout the preparation for the trial and the actual evaluation involve as many of the stakeholders as possible. You’ll want input from a representative of every department who’ll actually be end users of the system; What do they need from the system? What are their specific requirements? What questions do they want answered?

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 was launched in October last year  and offers users a free trial period and Redspire are on hand to help you get the most of your Dynamics trial.

With or without our help, it is very worthwhile to watch all the supporting videos, and you should certainly review all the documentation you can before you get going. Experts also agree that using your own data will make any trial more realistic and more useful for you. Try to use your trial CRM as you foresee it actually being used in your organisation, if you have to prioritise, pick the processes that you think will make the most difference. Use processes until you’re happy with them and can demonstrate them to colleagues.

Do you need a CRM consultant?

As to whether you should use a specialist – like Redspire – to guide you, there is certainly room for debate. Clearly, you know how your operation works but a CRM specialist will be able to identify how to migrate your processes into the day-to-day operation of a CRM system.

CRM systems can be very complex, and take time to learn, so there’s bound to be a period with any new product while you’re finding your way around, bear this in mind when you’re going through your trial.

Free trials are a great resource, but they’re not free in terms of time and effort on your part and you must be prepared to expend both to get the most out of trials.

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MS Dynamics CRM 2015 free trial

[/one_third][two_third_last]Ready for your Microsoft Dynamics CRM free trial?

Let Redspire guide you through your free 30-day Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 trial.

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2 min read

We’ve all got Microsoft Accreditation

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At Redspire, we like to think that we’re unique. And now there’s one more reason to believe so!

So what’s the big deal? Here it comes: Every employee at Redspire now holds a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Certification. In other words, we’re all official experts in the Dynamics CRM application – everyone from the CEO to the Office Administrator.

So what is Microsoft Dynamics CRM Accreditation, actually? Put simply, it’s a thorough method of distinguishing experts in the Dynamics CRM product.

Since Microsoft wanted to scrutinise our knowledge inside out, the process of getting the certification was not a smooth sail. At first, we all thought that since we use Dynamics CRM every day, we should be able to pass with hardly any effort. Only after we learned about people who thought the same and failed miserably, did we start studying. And it took us a few weeks to prepare!

After being tested through and through (and everyone passing the first time around!), we all took one Friday afternoon off to enjoy the taste of success. And boy did we have things to talk about.

Nerdy? Maybe. Enthusiastic about Dynamics CRM? Absolutely. And now it’s official!

So what does this mean for our clients? Simply that no matter who answers your phone call, they’ll be able to help you with your query. And whatever customisation you request, we’re capable of implementing.

And what about the new clients? Whether you’re implementing Dynamics CRM for the first time or just switching CRM partners, you can fully rely on our experience with the product. We are all excited about the Dynamics CRM product and now we all can back up our passion with a certificate.

MS Dynamics CRM 2015 demo

See us in action.

Request a Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 demo!

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2 min read

Why CRM Should Be the Lifeline of Your Business

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CRM systems have advanced significantly. From the antiquated platforms of the past that were nothing more than glorified spreadsheets, forward-thinking technology such as Microsoft Dynamics now offers the ability to align departments, improve customer retention and, most importantly, support the objective of increased revenue.

Such advantages mean that businesses can no longer afford to consider CRM as an optional bonus; doing so inevitably provides your competitor with the opportunity to advance, leaving your business behind.

CRM as an enabler

Revenue is, undeniably, the top priority for any business. Regardless of what department you are involved with, every individual within your business is working to increase revenue in different ways. CRM can help to bring those initiatives together.

Whilst it is important to note that technology is an enabler and not the full solution, the impact that it can have on your bottom line (when working in conjunction with knowledgeable and empowered users) is striking;

  • With detailed information on a customer’s buying history and preferences so easily accessible, marketers can create more targeted, relevant content that will increase their chance of engagement;
  • Finance teams have access to crucial commercial details that allow them to accurately  forecast and, consequently, generate more predictable revenue;
  • With the ability to automate tasks (particularly those that are, traditionally, resource-heavy), sales teams can focus more of their time on selling – and consequently support the objective of increased revenue.

CRM as the long-term solution

Another business element that can benefit significantly from CRM is customer retention. From detailed customer insight that allows sales teams to easily identify their most profitable accounts (and consequently spend their time in those areas) to improved customer service (thanks to an ability to quickly view customer buying history and issues), a CRM system provides the support that businesses often desperately need to retain existing revenue.

With this in mind, it’s essential that businesses recognise the importance of an advanced CRM system. Offering the game-changing opportunity to develop that all-important competitive edge, boost revenue and improve the efficiency of your team, making CRM the lifeline of your business is a no-brainer.

Convinced? If you’re ready to take the next step with your CRM strategy, talk to us.

5 min read

How much does CRM cost?

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Deploying CRM is usually a complex project involving many stakeholders and at the outset, it can be difficult trying to work out how much you need to invest. In this article, I’ll try to help you understand what costs are involved with a typical CRM project.

In this article, we’ll talk about the cost of:

  • Scoping the requirements
  • System customisation
  • On-demand versus on-premise solutions
  • Licences
  • CRM deployment
  • Time & training

 

  1. Scoping the requirements
  2. Let’s face it – CRM projects are usually large projects that affect the whole organisation. Our experience shows that one of the secrets to a successful CRM project is the active involvement of the each department in your business.

    You will need to sit down with all these stakeholders to determine what everyone needs and expects from the system. Give these people the list of alternatives you’re considering and ask for their opinion about which system they favour the most.

    This exercise may seem to be very time-consuming but it’s just a practice of good time management: the more time you spend planning, the less time you’ll spend fire-fighting. Therefore it’s good to scrutinise your business processes and choose a system with functionality that fits your business model most.

    Time is money? You bet. Especially the time you’ll save by operating a successful CRM system without preventable let-downs.

     

  3. Customisation: Investing in the perfect match
  4. After you’ve identified what business processes needs to be captured in your future CRM system, you’ll be able to identify if you can deploy an out-of-the-box CRM or if you need to customise it first.

    If you have a fairly typical business model, it’s quite possible that an out-of-the box CRM solution will be enough for you.

    However, if you have quite a few special business rules for passing your leads down the funnel or; if you need your system to integrate with external information sources, you’re likely to benefit from customisation. This way you’ll ensure your CRM is perfectly tailored for your business processes and not the other way around.

    It’s good practice to talk to a dedicated CRM specialist who will advise you about the scope of customisation that needs to be done to the system before it fits your business processes seamlessly. Naturally, if you come to a conclusion that you need a system customisation, you’ll also need to sign off a respective budget.

     

  5. On-demand or on-premise?
  6. You’ll have to choose between and on premise licencing versus an on-demand solution. You can see the basic comparison here.

    Typically, an on-premise solution involves a one-time payment after which you become the owner of the system. This means all the expenses of your IT department that will be managing your CRM solution will be on your shoulders; but you won’t have to pay a monthly fee to the CRM provider for hosting your data and updating your system.

    On the other hand, an on-demand solution (or cloud-hosting) will not cost you as much up-front and the expenses related to upgrading your system will be included in your monthly fee. This is usually a smart way for businesses with limited financial capital to have access to a powerful CRM solution while not having to worry about the technical side of it.

     

  7. Licences
  8. This price of the licences you’ll have to lay down will obviously depend on your choice of the CRM system.

    Make sure you make an informed CRM choice after sufficient research and draw on the conclusions you’ve made when talking to your teams. This way you’ll not only enhance the performance of your business processes (which a CRM is meant to do in the first place), you’ll also avoid being charged for functionality you’ll never need.

    Understandably after you’ve chosen the CRM system, you’ll need to count the amount of your CRM users and multiply it by the price per licence.

     

  9. The project realisation
  10. Another key choice that could make a great financial difference to your CRM project is the choice of a CRM specialist to deploy the system for you.

    It’s important to choose a partner who can demonstrate a past trail of success with employing CRM systems. How to spot one? They usually have on-going long-term relationships with their clients. Why is it so important? Because every time anything comes up with your system, you can call these people up and rely on them to help you out.

    When your budget is tight and you want to make sure you’re making the right choice, this can prove to be quite tricky. Many CRM specialists are hesitant to disclose the sums they charge for implementing CRM projects. However, at Redspire this is something we want to set right by making our CRM pricing completely transparent.

     

  11. Investing in time and training
  12. And finally, the best advice we can give you is to avoid making the same mistake as those whose CRM projects already failed. The single biggest cause of CRM project failures is the lack of user adoption.

    This is why it’s so crucial to ask all stakeholders for their opinions – and also why you should consider providing CRM training for the future CRM users.

    In most cases, it’s considered one of the best investments to dedicate budget to your employee’s training. Poorly trained users leads to a system that isn’t adopted and, ultimately, project failure.

     

    All in all, there are plenty of ways in which you can choose to deploy your CRM and a diligent, considered approach is best. Just remember: Hard training = easy combat!

How much does CRM cost at Redspire? See our transparent pricing to find out.