This post was most recently updated on February 25th, 2019
Needs Analysis Process
This process is especially designed to help small business (those with less than 100 employees) select a CRM solution that will help you take better care of your customers and grow your business now! After testing this process on over one thousand sales professionals, I have found it important to go “back to the basics” before jumping into all the various technical issues. So, please bear with me as we explore some fundamental issues of your sales situation. Please try to answer each question as honestly and candidly as possible (Remember, this is just between you and me!) It is probably best if you quickly scan through all of the questions first, then go back to the top and start writing your answers. Now, let’s get started!
A Solid Foundation
Please take some time to introduce me to your company, products, customers and sales environment. This information forms the foundation that I will keep a priority as we examine individual facets of your customer relationship management challenges.
Please Tell Me About Your Company
- What are the vital facts about your company?
- When was the company started?
- By who?
- What is the primary business?
- What is your specific business?
- Can you provide some financial background? (Whatever you are comfortable sharing – Sales, growth, profitability, etc.)
- How many employees do you have?
- How do they break down by department?
Any other information you can provide that will give me a good picture of your company will be appreciated.
Please Tell Me About Your Products
- What do you sell? (If possible, please include a brochure and sample information.)
- What is the typical price of these products?
- What information do your customers expect you to have immediately on hand about your products?
What other information would it be nice for me to have about your products?
Please Tell Me About Your Customers
- Who buys your products? Please describe your typical prospect for me in some detail.
- How do you make initial contact with these prospects? Cold calls? Sales leads provided by the company? Sales leads provided by some other source?
- How do you get these leads today?
- If an initial literature package is sent, who sends it?
- Can you prove your sales leads result in orders?
- If so, what percentage?
- Do you know which lead sources result in the most orders?
What is your customer buying cycle?
When I look at different sales cycles, I find that they fall into three broad categories:
- Short buying cycle
- Long and complicated buying cycle
- Continuous buying cycle
So, now please think about your typical sale. Do your best to describe your typical customer buying cycle and the typical steps along the way.
Please Tell Me About Your Competitors
Who are your competitors? Please provide a thumbnail sketch of each. What are their strengths and weaknesses?
Price: In your product category, are there lots of choices at relatively low prices? Or, are there just a few high priced alternatives?
Product Category: In your product category, is this an optional (perhaps, luxury) purchase? Or, is your product something most people really need to solve a specific problem?
Marketing Channel: Do you sell through the same marketing channels as your competitors? Or have you identified a possibly unique marketing channel?
Marketing Position: Are you the leading brand, with great market share and brand recognition? Or are you a minor player trying to compete? How do you rank relative to your competitors? Are you aware of any CRM projects efforts at your competitors? If so, what are they? Have you given any thought to how a CRM solution might help you defeat a competitor? If so, how?
To shed some more light on your competitive environment, how would you characterize your total industry in terms of: (please “X” One Box)
|Total demand?||a) growing||b) stagnant||c) declining|
|Competition?||a) fierce||b) moderate||c) mild|
|Threat of new competitors?||a) high||b) moderate||c) low|
|Supplier power? (how powerful are suppliers in your industry?)||a) high||b) moderate||c) low|
|Buyer Power? (how powerful are buyers in your industry?)||a) high||b) moderate||c) low|
|Availability of substitutes? (buyers’ ability to substitute your industry’s products)||a) easy||b) somewhat difficult||c) very difficult|
|Threat of substitute technology?||a) high||b) moderate||c) low|
|Dynamism? (upgrading of products/technology)||a) dynamic||b) stable||c) in-between|
|Major basis of competition (how do various firms try to increase sales?)||a) product innovations||b) pricing /promotion||c) better service|
Please share any comments that this exercise reveals.
Please Tell Me About Your Management Team
Please provide a detailed organization chart of your management team.
- Thinking about the key members of this team, what information, potentially available from the sales team, would permit these managers to do a better job in their areas?
- Consider the flip-side, what information do you think your sales team wishes they had from these functional managers?
- Think about the people your sales team routinely communicates with at your company. Who are they? Where are they? What information does the sales team send them now? How do they send this information? What information do they get from them now? How do they get this information?
- Are there other people the sales team might regularly communicate with? Who? Where? What about?
- To help them close more orders, what information does the sales team wish it had at their fingertips?
- How is order entry handled in your company? How much of this work does the sales team personally do? Do they have any after sale accounting responsibility, bill collecting, etc.?
Please tell me more about your marketing team!
- Do they currently work well (and closely) with the sales team?
- If not, what are you doing to improve this situation?
- What opportunities do you see where your marketing and sales teams might work together to take better care of your customers?
- Is this CRM project being launched in conjunction with any new marketing projects?
- If so, please provide as many details as possible so that we can explore how the CRM system might enhance these efforts.
Please Tell Me About Your Computer Experience
Do you have a corporate IT manager?
If so, it is essential that you get their input for this section! If you do not have an IT manager, please get the support of the “designated computer guru” on your management team.
- Do you have a corporate computer system at this time? If so, what is it? Specifics please: processor type & speed? Memory capacity? Disk capacity? Operating system?
- If you do already have a computer, must we use it or can we scrap everything and start fresh?
- Are you currently using a contact manager, sales automation package, or some other CRM solution now?
- If so, what program are you using now?
- What don’t you like about it?
- What have you liked about it?
- What do you really wish this program would do that would help you take better care of your customers now?
- If so, what program are you using now?
Please Tell Me About Your “Back Office Systems”
- Is your accounting or manufacturing system already automated?
- If so, what accounting/ERP software do you use?
- Details, please: company, program, version.
- Do you hope to interface your CRM solution with your back office software?
- If so, what do you hope to accomplish by doing this?
- If you have an accounting system, who did you buy it from?
- Who installed it and performed your on-site training?
- Were you happy with their efforts?
- Are they a potential source of support for a CRM system?
Total Customer Relationship Management
At this point, it is necessary to introduce the concept of a customer relationship continuum. When you first discover the name of someone who might be a candidate to do business with you, this person is just an unqualified suspect. You may have some useful information about this person. For example, they might be a referral from a trusted business colleague. However, you do not have a relationship with this suspect. This “unqualified suspect” defines the starting point for our customer relationship continuum.
Now, think of your best customer. These people are your “raving fans.” They love your products, your company and do not hesitate to recommend you to everyone they know! These are your happy, repeat customers – your best and most profitable customers. I assume that, in a perfect world, this is the level of relationship you would aspire to with all of your customers. This “raving fan” defines the “ultimate” target level for our customer relationship continuum.
The goal of most customer-focused businesses today is to efficiently move people along this customer relationship continuum. You do this through a series of interactions that engage your customer in a dialog to establish a meaningful customer relationship. So, the next step in my exploration of your CRM requirements is examine the different interactions, appropriate at any point in the customer relationship continuum, that you currently perform. More importantly, those interactions you might not perform that you know you should!
To help you think about some of these issues, please tell me your most critical business needs?
- Internet Enable Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service Teams
- Enhance Customer Interaction and Communication
- Improve Lead Generation Management
- Improve Sales Forecasting, Revenue Predictability and Reporting
- Shorten Sales Cycles
- Increase Revenue Through Accurate Quoting, Pricing and Order Generation
- Maximize Call Center Effectiveness
- Reduce Call Center Expenditures
- Implement e-Service Solutions to Decrease Call Volumes
- Improve Customer Retention by Improving Customer Satisfaction
In our traditional definition of an organization, different departments are responsible for the interactions at different points in the customer relationship continuum. For this reason, the next several sections of this Needs Analysis Process examine your requirements from this departmental perspective. We begin with the Marketing Department, responsible in most organizations for developing the unqualified suspect into a “warm” lead. Then, we progress through the other typical departments that would be responsible for nurturing the precious customer relationship.
NOTE: You don’t need to attack all of the following functions at the same time! However, for this process, it is helpful to tell me whatever you can about your challenges and goals for each function.
Marketing Support Capabilities
Any application claiming to provide total customer relationship management capabilities must also address the lead acquisition and management stage of the customer life cycle. Here you should detail any capabilities you would like to see that will help you improve your marketing.
Tell me what you can about your existing Marketing Campaigns and marketing programs.
- How do you manage Lead qualification and distribution?
- Do you conduct Events and Seminars as part of your marketing effort?
- How do you currently handle Collateral fulfillment?
- Do you regularly Survey customers and prospects?
- Do you conduct Online incentive promotions, sweepstakes and contests
- Can you clearly define your Customer segmentation/profiling?
- Do you monitor Product Performance (revenue and profitability)
- Do you know the real effectiveness of your marketing investments?
Field Sales Support Capabilities
- How many people are on your sales team?
- What is their typical background (education, work experience, etc.)?
- What sales training do you provide for your sales team?
- If you currently follow a specific sales methodology, please provide complete details for my review.
- How is your sales team currently organized?
- Exactly where are these people located?
- Will this stay the same?
- Where does your sales team actually do their work (home, office, car, customer site, etc.)?
- What are the primary responsibilities of your sales team, please include actual job descriptions if they exist?
- Does this work still make sense as you ponder your future corporate objectives?
Of the following items, what do you think your sales team would personally hope to achieve from this CRM project? Check all that apply:
- To improve productivity
- To improve frequency of contacts with customers
- To improve frequency of contacts with prospects
- To increase closing rates
- To shorten selling cycle
- To increase personal earnings
- To decrease time spent on grunt work
Now, go back and rank these, in order of importance. When would you hope to achieve these objectives?
Give me some idea of your company commission plan.
- Is your sales team on a straight percentage or some other formula.
- If they were to double their sales in the next year, what impact would this have on their personal earnings?
- Have you standardized on a SmartPhone yet? If so, which one (iPhone, Android, etc.)
- Does your sales team have computers now?
- If so, what is it? Specifics please: processor type & speed? Memory capacity? Disk capacity? Operating system?
- If you do already have a computer, must you use it or can we scrap everything and start fresh?
- If they do not own a computer, have they ever used one in the past?
- If so, what was it? What was it used for? How long was it used?
- Do your sales team currently have a working knowledge of a word processor or spreadsheet?
- If so, which ones? How are these used?
- Do you already have the support of the sales team for this project, or is it being “suggested” to them?
- Would you say that your sales team is a happy and productive group of people? Or, are there some other problems you need to deal with?
If so, what are these problems? Details, please.
Sales Management Capabilities
One of the reasons customer relationship management efforts can have such a profound impact on the overall results of a company is because of the tremendous potential leverage of the sales team. Increase the performance of your “average” sales person, and the results generally flow right to the bottom line. So, when I evaluate customer relationship management requirements, I look for any special opportunities that might help sales management increase the overall performance of the sales team! This is where you should describe, in detail, any challenges faced by your sales management team.
Planning & Deployment
- How do you currently plan and optimize sales territories?
- How do you manage a territory reorganization?
Quotas & Forecasting
- How do you currently set quotas?
- How do you currently manage your sales forecast?
- Are you happy with their accuracy?
- How do you roll-up sales forecasts?
Sales Process Management
- How do you currently perform Opportunity Management?
- Do you currently use any Structured Selling Methodology?
- How do you currently perform Sales Cycle Tracking?
- How do you currently measure Progress toward sales objectives?
- How do you currently perform Comparative analysis – individual sales people vs. the entire sales team?
- How do you currently help sales managers optimize their compensation plans?
Please clarify any other sales management issues you face.
Call Center Support Capabilities
Many organizations find a call center, whether they have 10 agents or 1,000 agents, an effective tool to take better care of their customers.
- Do you currently operate (or, desire to operate!) a call center.
- If so, how many agents staff this call center?
- Do they handle inbound calls, outbound calls, or both?
- Do you want your staff to communicate via:
- Multiple Touch Points
- Live Chat
- Collaborative Surfing
- Shared Whiteboards
- Streaming Video
- Do you require Remote Agent Support?
Computer Telephony Integration
Do you need this solution to integrate with any existing telephone equipment?
If so, please detail your current telephone equipment.
Partner Management Capabilities
Do you sell through a distribution channel? If so, this is where you should describe, in detail, whatever partner management issues that you face. Key points to consider include:
- Partner Acquisition
- Lead Distribution & Management
- MDF & Co-op Administration
- Partner Profiling
- Channel Program Management
- Extended Team Selling
- Channel Forecasting & Reporting
Please clarify any other partner management issues that you face.
Customer Support Capabilities
In these days of total Customer Relationship Management, strong customer support capabilities are also important. So, lets explore the customer support issues that you face. Please detail your customer support challenges by addressing the following issues, as appropriate.
- How do you manage support calls now?
- Can you reassign calls to an individual or a group of people?
- Can you automatically assign issues to queues based on product?
- How do you track support escalations?
- Can your support reps share customer information and work on the same issue?
- How do you track who worked on the problem?
- Do you track contact methods used (i.e. phone, voice-mail, e-mail, etc)?
- How do you track how much time was spent on the phone and beyond for each event?
- Do you have the ability to e-mail customer/others contents of call record?
- Can you ensure a call is covered by a service agreement before providing support?
How do you track what products the customer owns? (Versions, serial number, license number, expiration dates)
How do you manage product registration?
Can you easily identify customers who need upgrades?
How do you manage Return Material Authorizations (RMAs)?
- Can your customers access your support information, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?
- Can your customers enter/update their own support issues?
- Do you provide web access to a useful knowledgebase?
- Can customers register products over the web?
- How do you communicate the problem resolution to customer support issues?
- Does your support knowledge base provide Boolean or natural language searching?
- Does your support knowledge base offer both case-based and tree searching?
- Does your current system provide automatic Escalation/Workflow?
- How do you keep track of your service agreements? (Amount of Time, Amount of Money, Number of Calls, Blanket service agreements)
- How do you ensure that your support team is meeting your service level agreements?
- Can you provide proactive customer service as well as reactive?
- Can you bill customers at different rates for different levels of staff that work on issues?
- Can you support Service Agreements at a product level as well as an organization level?
Please clarify any other customer support issues that you face.
eBusiness Support Capabilities
Even if you primarily use a “classic” sales and marketing approach to serve your customers, every business must plan an electronic commerce strategy to assure their long-term survival! So, here I examine the specific e-commerce capabilities you wish to provide.
- Do you currently sell any products over the web?
- If not, do you have any products that you could sell this way?
- Does you web site support the efforts of your sales team?
- Or, is it still mostly a collection of online brochures?
Please clarify any other eBusiness support issues that you face.
So, why do you really think you want to automate your sales effort? What are the real business issues you are trying to solve?
Too many of the companies that I work with decide to implement CRM without really stopping to ask why they are doing it! Please don’t make this mistake. CRM is a means to an end, not the latest “silver bullet” solution to all of your problems.
Realize up front that CRM is an ongoing effort. This will surely be a project that will change over time as you re-examine your sales processes and discover the power of the computer technology. Don’t expect to get everything “right” on your first try and please budget realistically to assure the success of the project.
The sales team and and other players on your CRM team are different groups with different needs. However, for any CRM project to be successful, it must ultimately meet the needs of all these groups. In the initial phases, my recommendation when in doubt, give the nod for any capability decisions to the sales team. These people are the best sources of much of the information marketing, support and management might be interested in! Give them tools that simplify their lives and help them sell more and they will use the system!
Very quickly, your CRM solution will change the way you do business. As with any such change, senior management commitment is essential! Publicly committing to the use of the system for key information is the best way to illustrate commitment and get results.
Remember, this is not a test!
There are no right or wrong answers!
You don’t even have to answer every question. Though the more information you do give me, the better the recommendation I will be able to make.
Don’t worry about making your reply look like anything special! Just grab a pad and start writing your replies. If I can read it, I will work with it.
Send your completed NAP back to me along with any other information that I might find useful.
If you have specific questions that you feel need special attention, please ask them here.
I will study everything that you send back to me and suggest the programs that I think will work best for you. I will send you my In-Depth Reviews of those programs, along with any other suggestions that I think will help you take better care of your customers and sell more now!
This whole process usually takes 7 to 10 days. Don’t forget, I include 30-60 minutes of telephone consultation as an important part of this Corporate NAP process. If you have any follow-up questions, you can call me to discuss them after you review the materials that I send.
Proper use of Customer Relationship Management technology will help you take better care of your customers and blow next year’s quota right out the window! I know that with all my heart. So, if you still haven’t found the time to find the right software and get on with more effective selling, let me help you now.