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Business Consultants are bad for business

An excellent article from our COO, Dave Tidwell, yesterday demystifies the CRM market. Dave touches upon workflow and the underlying business sales strategy in his article. It catalysed some thoughts I had on the subject. I will build on Dave Tidwells' article with some arguments here about the role that “Business Consultants” are playing in this space and the effect they are having on many businesses; including yours!

Lazy Consultants Are Killing Opportunity

LC Singh - Nihilent CEOYesterday I was lucky enough to have taken coffee with one of the most forward thinking CEO’s in the “Systems Integration” space. LC Singh is the CEO of Nihilent, A large Indian / South African Systems Integrator / Consulting organisation, partly owned by Dimension Data.
Normally, I do not enjoy such meetings, as my own opinions of “Consultants” is not great… To be brutally honest. It’s not just the old adage about borrowing your watch, telling you the time and then keeping the watch… It’s more than that.
My problem with traditional “Consulting” is that it has become lazy.
Whilst my business focusses mainly on the SME market, we do service quite a number of clients that run very large sales and marketing operations. These companies are being conned into paying large fees for teams of consultants that are supposed to be “helping them” to design their sales and marketing strategies. But in reality these Consultants are no more than sales people for large firms that have developed their own “Repeatable Best Practice Guides”. The end result of months of very expensive meetings and analysis is the delivery of a photocopy.
So, we have “PhotoCopy Phil” the Consultant that works for the large practice with guidelines given to him by his own marketing department, with the single aim to extract as much revenue from that client as possible, then to hold the door open for the next consultant who does the same. Meanwhile, the client is fed the same old tripe about “Industry Best Practice for Sales and Marketing Process”. Even the existing, widely accepted, methods of measuring customer satisfaction are bent in order to make the client feel that their new Sales and Marketing processes will change everything. Then, after many hundreds of man-hours, the new process is unveiled, ignored and nothing changes. Yes, the Consulting Firm will re-visit and attempt to show some marked improvement in profitability, but at the end of the day, it is business as usual for the client. Only difference is that they have spent their consulting budget!
So, yesterday I was amazed when I launched into my own personal rant about these subjects and Mr. Singh smiled and nodded. Turns out he has already patented a mathematical formula that describes what I am about to say.

Point 1. There is no such thing as Industry best practice when it comes to CRM and to Sales and Marketing

Every company, product, market and region (even small geographical area) is different. To develop the processes that work best for you, yo must understand all of these. Even then, it is not YOU that gives the input here.. It’s your clients. A process is only there for one reason. To give the client what he wants as quickly as possible. If your company cannot do that and do so at a cost than is lower than the price he client will pay, then your processes are broken. Do not even LOOK at the industry best practice templates. YOU must automate your business YOUR way.

Point 2. There is no link between the traditional measurements of customer satisfaction (NPS – Net Promoter Score) and customer loyalty

This is going to get bad reviews and comments. I can see it now. Why? Because these so called Consultants have been dining out on this mumbo jumbo for years. All this time, whilst delivering almost NO discernible results. The net promoter score is based around a question such as “Would you recommend us to your friends”. From here we are meant to take the answers and create a scale that somehow predicts customer satisfaction. But here is the truth SATISFACTION is not enough. Not nearly enough. Satisfaction does not infer loyalty. Loyalty is what you need from your clients, not just keeping them “Satisfied”.
When your clients buy your products and services or you are engaging with your clients to sell such items, then the client is forming their EXPECTATIONS.
When the client comes to consume your products or experience your service, they make a judgement as to the difference between expectations and deliverables.
If we then put a “Number” on each of these items such as expectation = 5 and deliverables = 5 , then an equal balance shows your client is “Satisfied”
Any balance that is greater than 1 : 1 improves loyalty.
My point is this: If you are planning to review your own Sales and Marketing processes, then please, please, please, do not do so in isolation. You must also consider your products, deliverables and service levels at the same time. When you do this, the only thing that matters is your customer. Do not be misled by the lazy best practice advocates. If you are going to automate your sales and marketing with CRM, then don’t just automate bad practice! Design a solution to your customers problems and make a decision to actually cause change in your own industry.
The aims or deliverables of a successful CRM project should be to shake up your entire industry and to make your business stand out from the crowd. By the way, Mr. Singh won’t mind me saying that it took me a while to notice that he wasn’t shaking his head “No” he was shaking his head “Yes” as we spoke.
NihilentSpeak to Nihilent about business process and to Trivaeo to put it in place. If you are going to do it, do it properly and kick those lazy consultants out before they drag you down to their level of best practice.
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