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Papers Integrating the value of salespeople and systems: Adapting the benefits dependency network
Received (in revised form): 21st September, 2008

Beth Rogers
is Principal Lecturer in Sales Management at University of Portsmouth Business School.

Merlin Stone
is Research Director at WCL and Visiting Professor of Marketing at University of Portsmouth Business School.

Bryan Foss
is aNon-Executive Director, Board Advisor and Managing Director of Foss Initiatives.

Keywords customer relationship management, sales force automation, sales productivity, return on investment, project management, sales management Abstract Business-to-business (B2B) companies invest in customer relationship management (CRM), integrated with sales force automation (SFA) to achieve a return oninvestment, through improved sales force productivity, sales revenue, costs, customer satisfaction, process accuracy and customer knowledge. However, the devil is in the detail. CRM and SFA are multi-faceted. There are two main obstacles to successful implementation. One is the need for the customer to get some benefit out of the system; the other is ensuring that employees who are expected to use thesystem actually buy-in to its benefits, including what benefit they will gain as individuals. However, much planning is needed to manage the risks involved. The ‘benefits dependency network’ (BDN),1 designed to develop routes to successful implementation of IT, has been tested in CRM projects. The factors for success in CRM implementation in B2B companies, where the sales force must be involved, are manyand varied, including proactive sales management, creating champions, consultation, training, incentives and culture change. Practicalities such as incremental application of the technology and a wide portfolio of metrics to monitor progress are also critical. In the light of the special considerations of sales force involvement, the authors propose an adaptation of the BDN to suggest a genericmap for the implementation of CRM (with SFA) in B2B markets. This paper is based on the authors’ secondary research for two commercial sponsors in the utilities sector, supplemented by the authors’ extensive experience of working in this area. Journal of Database Marketing & Customer Strategy Management (2008) 15, 221–232. doi:10.1057/dbm.2008.19
Beth Rogers Portsmouth Business School RichmondBuilding Portland Street Portsmouth PO1 3DE Tel: 02392 844017; Fax: 02392 844037

INTRODUCTION Customer relationship management (CRM) systems have been around since the mid-

1990s, when they fairly quickly became associated with problems. Rigby et al.2 noted a number of contemporary analyst

© 2008 Palgrave Macmillan 1741-2439 Vol. 15, 4, 221–232 Database Marketing & Customer StrategyManagement www.palgrave-journals.com/dbm/


Rogers, Stone and Foss

reports quoting high levels of failure, escalating implementation costs, and dissatisfaction from managers, customers and users. Wilson et al.3 noted that failure rates were still ‘obstinately high’ (p. 771). The technology has been around for some time and the consultants that work for the software houses have a great deal ofrelevant skills and experience.4 So the cause of failure usually lies deeper. The history of company systems has been a focus on product, operations and the movement of money. The intricacies of customer knowledge and how to leverage it have been left to the salesperson’s intuition. Changing all that without damaging knock-on effects is a significant challenge. To many, CRM is the strategy andprocess supporting a ‘relationship vision’ for a company,5 but most commentators focus on practicalities. Ling and Yen6 observe that CRM is a process for using information about customers. They conclude that the primary purpose of that is to improve sales productivity and efficiency. The bottom-line focus is also strong in the literature; for example, Bull7 argues that CRM must make a contribution to...
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