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New challenges……but a few thoughts on the old……. February 22, 2010

Posted by Paul Walton in Business.

So last month I resigned from my current position within a global commercial real estate consultancy.  I’ve been in the Real Estate sector for just over 2 ½ years and I have found it very interesting but more importantly very frustrating!

Overall in this sector, I believe that there has been a massive under investment within technology (with no sign of it changing).  Most of my time I have found it frustrating as the business streams know that they need something, but not quite sure why.  They know that they need to have the right tools in place to make them more efficient, but not willing to spend the money.  A large challenge in this sector is people understanding the value in IT.  I have spent endless hours trying to explain the benefits of implementing CRM as a process for example. 

Just over 12 months ago, we selected the tool of choice Salesforce.com (SFDC) and initiated a pilot.  To date after many people including 3rd party consultants helping out, the company still asks “what is CRM?”.  I once heard from a senior CRM Director – “ we have never had to develop our customers – the money was just rolling in, so why do it”.  Well recession hit and everybody is and continues to be in trouble.  Maybe developing your clients for the long term, things may have been a bit better?  Basic principles of opportunity management as part of the CRM process continues to be a mystery for the majority of the company.  Continuing my theme of change, I implore the people I have been working with to be open to doing things differently and look at things from another perspective.  Research client development within other sectors and work together on how you could adapt other methods within your own company.  Be open to the change CRM can bring and the many many benefits it will bring to the company and eventually you.  Whilst working through the pilot, I could strongly sense that staff were worried about being more exposed to what they actually do on a day to day basic.  I would suggest that they should embrace that with opportunity and work out how that could benefit you within your role.  New people from other sectors and other organisations are being brought in to try and manage CRM as a process.  It has been interesting to watch them and see the same frustrations grow.  I just wonder how long it will take to get the company thinking differently?  In my view, what it needed is for remuneration(s) to be harmonised and structured differently.  Ensure that there is benefit from cross selling and that people are remunerated accordingly to their activity with the clients.  Make people accountable at all stages and at all levels.  Make the staff aware that they are actually selling services (once got a quote from another CRM manager that the company did not sell, but focused on the relationships).  When we started the deployment of SFDC, I spoke with a very large laptop provider who introduced SFDC.  They had a very big stick approach to the implementation – if it’s not in SFDC you won’t be paid for it.  After a few months of people dodging the system, after this big stick directive was sent out via email, usage went up 98% literally overnight.  I like this approach – harsh but it works.

From speaking with all levels of people in my company, through man and boy they have been in the real estate sector.  Is this a good thing?  For specialising in their industry yes.  For running a company like a business – in my view no.  Senior guys are struggling to run the business as a business.  Not once have I ever seen a business case for any investment made.  Not once has anybody and I mean anybody tell me the profit margin for XYZ client.  The guys always talk about revenue.  It has been very rare for me to come across someone to actually understands profit!  Why – well I would think it is because the way they are remunerated.  Again this needs to change if companies like this are to survive in the new world.  Not a good business model when one of the biggest pitches of the year to a major global UK based bank is going to cost them money.  All done just to save face within the sector.  Not good.com!

Anyway all of that behind me.  I really do wish them the best of luck.  With a complete new senior management team on board from a different sector after another 18 months or so, I think change will be made.

Going forward.  I am starting with Xerox as an IT Relationship Manager for their Developing Markets.  I am looking forward to that very much.  Change to me personally and I am really looking forward to the change and challenges it will bring.  Really looking forward to being part of a major global organisation again………



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