TALKING SALES 158: "A better CRM means a better customer experience, but how?"

John Smibert

CRM Cust Delight"CRM can help a salesperson from walking into a trap" - Discussion with John Smibert.

There is a high rate of failure in CRM implementations. CRM failure means enormous sunk cost but more significant is the lost opportunity cost and the negative impact on our customer experience.

Yet even if our CRM is not considered a failure most implementations do not deliver the full promise. Our delivery of a high level of customer experience is negatively impacted.  This means the lifeblood of our ongoing revenue and profitability is being throttled back.

TB Pic 300x300 Sept 2015So I asked Tony Bonanno what we need to do to make our CRM more effective.

He emphasised that the first thing that needs to be addressed is the company culture. The entire company has to be passionate about "The client comes first, nothing else matters." and everybody in the organisation has to collaborate. Every person who touches that client has to record appropriately, in the right place, so that the right reports can be pulled out by anybody at any given moment so that the customer can be served precisely the way they need to be served for optimum effect.

He said most companies need an attitudinal shift to absolute customer centricity to deliver this. Tony went on to explain how they can achieve this change

Tony provided some advice that, if adopted, will drive sustainable customer satisfaction, sales and profit. View or read the interview below for the answer.  Great discussion for business leaders, CEO's and their leadership team.


Tony Bonanno is a thought leader in sales management, sales growth and behavioural change

See more of the 'TALKING SALES' series here


John: Hello, I've got Tony Bonanno with me again - welcome back, Tony!

Tony: Thanks, John!

John: Hey Tony, I want to talk on the subject of CRM.

Tony: Touchy subject.

John: Well, it is a touchy subject. A lot of discussion about why CRM is not as effective in some companies as it should be and so on, but to me CRM, and I know it is to you too, is much wider than sales.

Tony: Absolutely. I think that's part of the issue with it, that it is wider than sales. I know salespeople who touch the CRM product so that they can feel prepared, so that they can decide who they're going to go and see and when they're going to see them, maybe even what they're going to talk about, but if that CRM doesn't have all of the corporation's information relating to that client in there, then it's not being used effectively, and the salesperson's walking into a potential meeting which might end up being a bit of a trap for them.

John: So, to make a CRM more effective, or to make us as an organisation more engaged with our customers and listening to our customers and being on top of what our customers are doing so that we can help our customers even better, what do we need to do? What's the mentality, what's the change we need to go through in organisations to do a better job of it?

Tony: Yes, that's a great question. The change isn't about the CRM itself, the change is the way we think about the customer.

John: Right.

CRM Cust Exper 02Tony: I've got one client at the moment who has multiple divisions within the organisation, and they are just so passionate about "The client comes first, nothing else matters." and everybody in the organisation has to collaborate. Every person who touches that client has to record appropriately, in the right place, so that the right reports can be pulled out by anybody at any given moment so that the customer can be served precisely the way they need to be served for optimum effect.

John: Right.

Tony: So, that happens, that attitudinal shift happens before you touch your CRM.

John: And it doesn't matter really what the salesperson does, and we're talking to salespeople and sales managers predominantly, the message needs to be across the organisation; it needs to probably come top-down, it needs to be embraced, you need a change programme where people do put the customer at the centre of everything.

Tony: Yes. And that goes a step further, because that's now looking at how do we best collaborate internally, and that opens up a new discussion. How do we collaborate, what do we have to do to collaborate effectively, what do we have to do to know what's going on, and how can we then rank things by their various levels of importance so that it gets the message across to everyone?

John: And I think collaboration's a good word, but I love the word "alignment" as well, where if you're going to align all the different areas of our company together with one focus on the customer, and that's what CRM is there to help us do. But you're right, it's a mindset in the organisation. There's not much point putting CRM in to achieve that, if you haven't first got the mindset.

Tony: It's a perfect way of looking at it. And if you look at it from the customer's perspective, my view is that that's what the customer expects.

John: Exactly.

Tony: I had an instance with one of my clients recently, where they were talking about a situation with a customer who rang up to accept a quote, but the quote hadn't been logged in the CRM, and the person taking the call to accept the quote didn't know what to do.

Frustrated businesspeople in office

John: Yes.

Tony: They couldn't answer the question, they couldn't say, "You need this much to deposit," or you need..." they couldn't answer those questions. So, if that alignment's not there, the collaboration's not in place, the customer suffers.

John: Okay. So, the bottom line message is, and this is more for executives in an organisation than it is for the salespeople or people at the customer-facing level, get the mindset in the organisation right, get the culture right, get the customer the centre of everything you do, and then you might get a CRM that works.

Tony: That works, absolutely.

John: Thank you very much, Tony!

Tony: Thanks, John!


More interviews with Tony Bonanno:



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