Editor’s note: Fabrice Cathala has over 23 years of experience in various areas of computer enterprise. Cathala is a Co-founder of the London Salesforce User Group, Co-organizer of the Thames Valley Salesforce Developer Group, Founder of the Swindon Developer Group, a regular speaker at conferences, and a blogger for SaaS-components.
Interview with Fabrice Cathala, Salesforce Solution Architect
Trujay: Fabrice, for several decades you have been working in IT infrastructure in different roles within the CRM industry. What was the biggest challenge of working with CRM? For what type of business would you recommend Salesforce CRM?
Fabrice: For me, the most challenging part is to make sure you never ever take your eyes off the ball. There may be very interesting technical challenges but this is NOT the reason why you’re here. You’re here to improve a business’s bottom line and that is what you must guarantee to whoever is paying.
Trujay: You were a CRM consultant, as well as a product manager. Are there any specific requirements for SMBs to CRM solutions? When should small business owners consider CRM implementation?
Cathala: I’ve been advising SME-owners in my journey as well and I’d say that early on in the life of a new company, it’s important to gather a 360 view of your customer. Don’t wait until your competition out-maneuver you and get into the CRM game before you start thinking about it. Knowing who your customer, what do they need is a good approach in all businesses, of all sizes.
Trujay: Nowadays, lots of companies try to keep up with the trends of customer-centric business strategy. In your opinion, can social CRM facilitate the process of customer hearing and improve the customer experience?
Fabrice: I’d say that every time you can learn about your customer, their preference, what they like to do during the day or at the weekend can be potentially good for your business. That’s one side of Social CRM (listening). But I think the most relevant addition to the world of CRM that social is providing is adding more channels to engage with you, the vendor. So, you do need to available on your customers’ preferred social media channel and engage with them from there (vs. not force on them YOUR preferred channel). That is definitely the best practice!
Trujay: CRM enables toolset and options for effective process management. In your opinion, what processes should be set up primarily? Are there any obligatory settings for sales or marketing processes?
Fabrice: I have not been exposed to any case where an approach was forced on us, the implementation team. I’d say that historically from the pre-CRM days, SFA, Sales tends to come first as a central masterpiece to which all other enterprise-class applications are attached. Typically a CRM is meant to be adapted to a business and the role of a business is to sell (services or products). So, that’s why I see the Sales part of any CRM is the most important.
Trujay: Currently, we hear about the value of data-driven decisions and analytics. In your opinion, can Salesforce CRM solve strategic problems? What data should be collected for building real-time analytics?
Fabrice: A good question that requires a day-long response! In a nutshell though, yes Salesforce is definitively geared at answering this need. The Tableau acquisition (by Salesforce) is only an added bonus. The data that needs to be collected is typically everything that is available and, in a good Salesforce way, you would expect the users to be able to later dive into any or multiple datasets to answer their own question.
You need to be very careful when deciding what goes in, what stays out that the information staying out will not be later needed by a manager. There are ways for a consultant to identify this but again, in a nutshell, it’s better to slightly overdo things, rather than block your users.
Trujay: When the available tools fail to meet the needs and future hindrance directions of business development, vendors decide to change their current CRM. What’s your advice to manage the implementation and end-user adoption issues?
Fabrice: It’s not a simple operation like “I remove the old carpet and I put the furniture back on the new one”… There are so many points to survey that I would recommend using a consultancy service and getting a proper feature gap and training plan.
Trujay: Could you give some tips on how to choose the best CRM for a business?
Fabrice: That’s the one million dollar question. Because I’m a Salesforce specialist and have been for years I would recommend starting with this one to see if it fits the bill (the answer is”Yes”). There are multiple editions so multiple pricing as well.
Having said that, typically, I would create a decision matrix and list my must-have in the rows. In the columns, I would list various CRM solutions. In the last row, I would list the price per seat and start my comparison.
If you want to find the latest trends, information on the CRM market, you can follow Fabrice Cathala on LinkedIn.