Ten years ago CRM was all the buzz and was going to change the marketing landscape forever, promising a one-to-one relationship with all prospects and customers. But CRM over-promised and under-delivered.
CRM was mostly synonymous with expensive systems, even more expensive implementations and nobody to drive the beast when it was finally installed. Everyone has heard a horror story. The company I worked for in the mid-nineties employed about 120 people and spent $500k on a system that no-one used. So is it all a waste of time?
I don’t think so. The importance of one-to-one relationship building is clearly only going to increase in the information age; to build relationships we need to be more relevant, more personal, more focused.
The good news is that the choice of “CRM” software is now far greater and no longer restricted to large corporate business. It is much more affordable, flexible and user friendly.
I have recently had a play with SugarCRM, an “open source” product that’s had good reviews online and appears to bring together simplicity and functionality at a price point that is accessible to small and medium business.
PS: Maybe CRM is not the right term, maybe it should simply be Relationship Building Systems. Maybe more on that in my next post.