Can I Use Outlook for CRM? Lots of people do so the answer must be “yes”. Just like lots of people use stickies, or whiteboards, or spreadsheets for CRM. But changing the question might warrant a very different response. Can I use Outlook for joining my processes and information in a system which really helps me manage relationships with customers. The answer changes to “not in this lifetime, or the next”. And the same applies to Gmail, and Apple Mail, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Plaxo, or any of the other applications with contact details.
The issue isn’t technology. It’s management and management means process. Without process built into the application the word “management” means you. You finding all the information you need, remembering what was done, and planning/scheduling what will be done.
Lets break down the name (description) into it’s component parts:
We don’t think relationships should be limited to customers, but that’s a different subject. For the moment just who is your customer? If you’re in B2B the customer is most likely a company, and within the company the C suite, operational management and executives. Even in a small company this might turn out to 10 different records, all of which need to be linked so there’s one view of the “company”. Add correspondence, documents and notes to the picture and you’ll see this gets to be maybe 100 different pieces of information, all of which you need linked.
Here we’re talking about points where the businesses touch – what the customer expects of your business, and vice versa. Who is supposed to do what, when, and whether it happened. Relationship is all about planning, scheduling and task allocation. And those plans are supported with more correspondence, documents and notes.
Figuring out what do. Planning resources to achieve it. Executing the plan, and reviewing the result.
These are 3 dimensions of the one sales or customer service opportunity. Each is a different view of the same information. Not individual sets of records with the user remembering where they are and how they fit together. There are many CRM software solutions around, some quite good – more quite bad – but everyone should have built in this concept of presenting all the relevant information together, and in context.
CRM isn’t about contacts. It’s about Management.
Apparently there’s something like 500 million Outlook users in the world. Most will be Outlook Express for email and not much else. Of the rest some will be bending themselves out of shape trying to use the software to do something it’s not designed for – CRM. The effort required to do that might prove their expertise using Outlook, but it doesn’t say much for their customer relationship management.
If any of the thoughts here resonate with you How to Choose a CRM might be interesting.
Why doesn’t the traditional approach to selling and sales management work so well any more? What can the modern sales professional do to stay relevant in today’s customer driven markets? Check out our eBook Reengineering Sales Management for ideas on how to embrace the new order of customer driven buyer/seller relationships.