CEOs want CRM Vendors to Value their Vision

A CEO’s vision of Customer Relationship Management forms the crux of what a customer-focused organization must “feel” like to its customers.

Every company, over a period of time, builds up a unique personality which becomes the foundation of solid and ever lasting relationships with its customers. If, the vision is cloudy, neither stakeholders nor customers will comprehend what exactly to expect from the organization as opposed to competition, why they should stay around and what differentiates their experiences with that particular organization.
Also, employees will not have proper direction to their efforts, and all CRM efforts will fall apart.

The CEO’s vision hence becomes fundamental in maximizing an organization’s CRM success. The success of this envisaged vision lie in flawless planning, and perfect execution of the best chosen CRM solution provided by a capable vendor.

CRM solutions vary among organizations and need to be tailor made to suit company specifics. Vendors design their software on the basis of past experiences which is alright so long as the company already owns that particular vendor’s software solutions. However, in the larger picture, CRM technology offered by a particular vendor must fuel company success, support the company’s vision and strengthen its future.

Studies show that failure rates for CRM implementations range between 30 to 85%, and this includes discrepancies not just in mere facts but also their interpretations. It is interesting to note that in this range, if instances of the systems being completely abandoned or failure to go live is considered, then it falls in the lower than 30% range, however, if aspects like delays in production, cost over-runs, escalating post production expenses and complete failure in matching up to expectations is considered, then the actual rate of failure may jump over 80%.

One of the biggest reasons for such failure is the lack of alignment between the CEO’s vision and vendors who provide the CRM solutions. If the two are not parallel, failure is inevitable. Ironically, wrong vendor choice is also the simplest to avoid.

The Right Vendor

Every organization has various department engaged in different functions. While marketing teams focus on designing gripping campaigns and deliver them through varied channels, the sales department is responsible for productive lead follow up and juggling existing sales cycles. The top management is responsible to oversee all cross-departmental operations, and make sure that interactions with clients are professionally and responsibly managed.

The end goal of all departments, however, is to acquire, retain and continually offer support to customers – which is becoming an increasingly challenging task.

Already complicated activities are becoming even more web-like, and multi faceted procedures and workflows are becoming challenging to track, co-ordinate, and manage.

CRM is the answer to effectively manage and streamline all cross functional, cross departmental tasks and deliver the ultimate customer experience at the same time balancing it with company goals. Naturally, the “solution” itself needs to be correct, and only a correct vendor can provide the same.

The vision, goals, and overall objectives of the company should be clearly defined, following which, a weighted evaluation procedure must be designed so as to identify what is really important in the CRM solution of the business. After classification of the evaluation criteria, solutions must be chosen and evaluated from both horizontal as well as vertical perspectives.

Next, each selected vendor must demonstrate to the CEO, the superior-most level of their range of offerings and capabilities. Choices must be narrowed down to a few vendors, following which the short listed vendor list must be used to re-evaluate the objectives and vision to ensure that both are in line with each other.

To begin with, all goals and processes of the organization must be thoroughly understood by the vendor, and clarifications must be asked for when in doubt. Clarity and commonality in thoughts and ideas about execution of the vision should be in perfect sync between company and vendor. The vendor has to hand-make CRM processes in a way that they incorporate the shared goals and vision of every stakeholder, since this is what goes into better enabling of processes, yielding instant results, ensures collective buy-in, user adoption, and finally the achievement of overall success in the long run.

When stakeholder perspectives are completely understood, the long term organizational goals become as significant to the vendors as they are to the company itself. As a natural consequence, vendors automatically start taking action to ensure that objectives are achieved by all means.

Because different departments walk on different paths leading to a common destination, the journey may give rise to conflicts due to competing interests and viewpoints between different departments and the different stakeholders in question. It is the responsibility of the vendor to understand how to bridge these gaps and turn around conflicts into new solutions and enhance the CRM system further by converting roadblocks into stepping stones to success, as this is exactly what the top management envisions.

The different organizational networks, individuals who affect, those who get affected, those who are likely to have an impact on decision making - all must be actively involved in dialog and other necessary interaction with the vendors – so that there is understanding and synchronization between all people in the organization and the vendor. Only when a vendor engages with and confronts every person at every level and gauges their perspective, he can make sure that he has designed the best CRM solution keeping in mind everyone’s best interests and thereby balancing everyone’s requirements perfectly.

Training and Support

The vendor must ensure that the solution offered by him possesses the functionality to fulfill all business needs and solve problems at every level. It is wise to frame structured question sets or a check list for the vendors, to make sure that the right vendor is picked providing the right solution. A wise strategy would be to study similar customers’ buying history and check what solutions they have picked.

It is also necessary that the CEO’s requirement to ensure proper integration of the given CRM solution with other technologies or projects is met with.

The CEO will want that all individuals at every level can adopt the solution and that it is user friendly and flexible. The vendor must therefore ensure that his offering is such that it meets this requirement and incase there are complexities, proper training and support is offered to bridge the gap. The solution must also have inherent productivity and enable systems integration.


The roots of CRM success lie in well planned and powerful CRM solutions, with the CEO’s vision firmly embedded in it. The onus of providing this lies solely with the vendor after necessary interactions with all the stakeholders of the company. 

The main aim of any organization is offer an ultimate Customer Experience which is ensured when all important systems and processes are in place.

Running an organization requires strategic planning and absolute translation of the CEO’s vision to combine success with happy customers. This is achieved when the CEO’s vision takes actual shape when it is converted into tangible means through correct actions, processes and KPAs – all offered by an experienced CRM vendor.

Most importantly, CRM vendors have to realize that CEO’s don’t just want to ‘implement’ a solution, but their primary goal is to help his company march towards higher progress and this overall goal must always be in the vendor’s mind as well. Implementation must be from every aspect, completely understood and imbibed in every department and every individual in the organization – and it should not just be applied from the IT angle.

It is vital to always have a strong focus on the organization’s future plans, the related technology and changes it wishes to make in this regard. In this scenario, the vendor must make sure that he has provided such a solution which takes this into consideration and leaves room for the necessary changes.

Passion is what drives the CEO’s visions to lead his company towards unmatched success – and vendors have an upper hand of being able to view situations unambiguously. When the vendor and CEO’s vision go hand-in-hand, it optimizes relationship building with customers and progressively increases bottom line revenues.