What we know about a prospect or client is the heart and soul of CRM (customer relationship management). Publicly traded company Salesforce (symbol CRM) is one of many enterprises addressing this process. This is not an endorsement to buy or sell Salesforce nor a comment on its products, but rather an observation that CRM and its competitors’ robust technologies create a process that uses what is known about a client to drive marketing, sales, retention, and loyalty.
For me, the more vital question is, “How well do you know the client?” The boxes you check when entering information in a database are the “What?” questions. No “What’s?” no boxes to check. But how did you come about that information? Was it gleaned from a complicated algorithmic formula that captures consumer behaviors? Did someone gather data from sidewalk surveys in major cities? How was social media used? Were polling services enlisted? And if all the profile sections of a database were complete, added to thousands of other completed surveys, how might the data collected speak to productivity, sales, loyalty, brand recognition, and more? These are the questions CRM aficionados love and are the data-driven world in which they live.
Now the haunting question: If we check all the boxes, validate all the data, and exhaust all search capabilities, what have we learned about the person behind the data? Are there boxes to check that discover:
□ At age 10, parents divorced after father lost his job.
□ Client struggles to face fear when investments have a losing month.
□ Enjoys reading fiction and participating in a book club.
□ Not sure about trusting another person with her life story.
The list could go on, but you get the idea.
What we know about a client is important, but how we learn that information and the person sharing it is vital.
In the Preface to their widely used textbook, Customer Relationship Management: Concept, Strategy, and Tools, professors V. Kumar and Werner Reinartz claim: “This book provides all the necessary steps in managing profitable customer relationships.” Yes, the book is an encyclopedia of the history, development, and highly nuanced discipline informing all aspects of the CRM discipline. Studies of varying complexity have crunched the numbers and spit out reports. But the boxes checked and the data compiled on every client in your business will never tell you about the things that matter most to you and the people you serve.
Now check these boxes:
□ Advisor is in touch with his personal story and how it informs practice.
□ Advisor continually learns more about the client’s life story and dreams.
□ Client and advisor feel increasingly safe with each other while creating greater trust.
It is those boxes, those indispensable streams of data gleaned from asking questions from the heart that differentiate us from the finest CRM software in the world.