No. 4 / 2010
SAS Adriatic Region Newsletter
The influential French writer and politician Victor Hugo left us many thoughts which are still popular quotes today, one of the most frequently used being his thought about the power of a good idea. According to Hugo, nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come. Even though he placed this thought in a political context, the quote is also helpful in the business world if, considering currently dynamic trends, it is complemented by the term “sustainability”.
Be it the banking or the telecommunication industry, we all agree that any discussion of ideas must also encompass business goals, as new ideas will only be relevant if they, through activity, evolve into action which is expected to bring better or more reliable results, e.g. loan granting, increase in revenues from intranet work calls … better effects which can be translated into cash.
As regards the current sales perspective and expectations of CRM, a good idea is mostly linked to a specific activity (offer, product package or promotional price) and is not sustainable as such. A good idea becomes sustainable only when it is intertwined with a sustainable process during its implementation. I am well aware of how difficult it is to launch a successful sales campaign, especially in these times of fiercer competition and lower purchasing power. I often come across situations when, after completing a successful campaign, one subconsciously lingers in a state of complacency and ceases to focus on innovation, i.e. search for new good ideas. Any idea, even the best, is of a limited duration due to the following factors: amended regulations, competitors’ behaviour, products’ lifecycle, and saturation of the target population. Campaigns based on a promotional offer are particularly restrictive due to the limited net effect on the total portfolio.
A sustainable process is underpinned by an infrastructure which enables implementation, measurement and co-ordination of successful campaigns with a minimum of effort, and at the same time makes room, time and a foundation for innovativeness in the search for and testing of new campaigns.
The ratio between operational work aimed at implementing existing campaigns and innovative work must be at least equal. I believe that the cornerstone of a sustainable CRM process is the equality of the inputs of operational and innovative activities. Consistent expectations of the sales results generated by CRM can only be guaranteed if both factors are equal, since most people run out of time and patience during the cyclical achievement of good results.
The approach and role of CRM in a business process constitute one of the main factors of a sustainable process. In my opinion, the focus should move from instantaneous individual campaigns to the development of a platform for devising and implementing campaigns in the long run. A 15−20% response rate in a specific campaign might be tempting, but I think that it is more acceptable in the long run to have a scenario with a lower campaign response rate, e.g. 10% of the population, which in turn rapidly becomes automatic and brings better long-term results through repetition and additional new campaigns.
It is not that I think those campaigns which bring short-term results should be neglected; on the contrary, their value should be accepted, they should become automatic and the expectations co-ordinated in terms of market dynamics and increasing sales goals. I personally believe that the value is most boosted if we shift from efforts spent on increasing the response rate by another 5% to efforts dedicated to development and new campaigns. Such an approach is of enormous importance considering the relentless downward trend in the success rate of every campaign during its lifecycle and the disproportionate efforts required for a first-time 10% increase in effect and all subsequent increases.
After all, this is nothing more than a game of figures, a distribution of risk – whatever we may call it. In any case, personally, I would rather underpin my sales plan with a higher number of equal factors so as to mitigate the potential negative effect of any market changes; however, this approach requires a platform or foundation as support. Consequently, a sustainable good idea does not mean one successful campaign, but rather a process generating good ideas.
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