“We don’t need RapidStart CRM, we are a CRM Partner”
I expected to hear this a lot before we launched, but I have not heard it once.
Yeah… I was surprised too. In fact, we did not even think about established CRM partners when we developed our Dynamics CRM Online deployment and adoption solution. Our partner profile was the Non-CRM Partner; the partner who is doing well with Office 365, probably has a MSP operation, and may be dabbling in Azure. Many of these partners, while surrounded by CRM opportunities in their own customer base, have no interest in starting a CRM practice. Our goal was, and still is, to provide that Non-CRM Partner with a way to engage in the CRM game, without having to do anything new.
The needle moved alright, but it poked us in the back
So we watched our footprint growing in our target partner profile, and things were going well, but we noticed an odd anomaly. CRM Partners were signing up as resellers also. My first thought was that it was just curiosity, but then they started transacting. Obviously, I jumped on the phone to see what was going on. I mean, I am looking at these partners’ websites and they already offered some sort of JumpStart, QuickStart, FastStart (basically, all of the “Starts”). What I ultimately learned was not so much surprising as it was obvious.
The infamous “[adjective]Start for CRM” loss leader
Okay, so I talked to about two dozen CRM Partners who signed up as RapidStart CRM resellers and learned a few things. About half of them offered some sort of low cost ramp-up program, some were promoted, and some were obscured, and only mentioned as a Plan B. Almost all of them shared these components: a boxed set of hours at a discounted rate, and a list of objectives. When we were a customer-facing partner, we had never approached it that way, and after talking to these partners, I am glad we didn’t. One of the key things I learned early in my career was, that a seller’s real job, is managing the customer’s expectations. Without a clear scope, price and time frame, it is nearly impossible to keep the customer’s expectations in check. I heard from many CRM Partners who offered this sort of service that they ultimately ended up with a choice of “make money” or “happy customer”. Of course, happy customer always wins, so most of these “starts” became loss-leaders.
The Goal is beyond the Goal
Unless you have built an ISV business whose sole purpose is to provide a RapidStart CRM solution at scale, your own similar efforts are really just a means to an end. Here’s what we know about the CRM customer, particularly the SMB customer: If we can get them happy with CRM at a basic level, the sky is the limit; if we can’t, then we just wasted our time. Standing between the CRM Partner and the lucrative CRM consulting projects, sits this annoying little onboarding and adoption step. Literally, getting that brand new customer up to a foot off the ground. Seems like it should be easy, but you know that it is not. Wouldn’t it be great if you had new customers coming in your door, that were already a foot off the ground, happy, and ready to spend some real money on CRM? Well, that is exactly what many CRM Partners are using RapidStart CRM for. Not just eliminating loss-leaders, but actually making a little money on this step for a change.
Here’s how CRM Partners are using RapidStart CRM
Some CRM Partners are deploying new customers with RapidStart CRM and setting automatic follow-up sessions for cross-sell and up-sell conversations; basically, planting seeds. Some CRM Partners are using RapidStart CRM to go after the growing SMB space where they could not be price competitive before, again, planting seeds. Some CRM Partners are using RapidStart CRM to quickly grow seat counts and recurring licensing revenue, hmmm, sowing seeds. Some CRM Partners are coordinating with us to create unique RapidStart CRM deployments that include the Partner’s IP, under their own brand. Lastly, some CRM Partners are using RapidStart CRM with new Enterprise customers for Pilots and POCs.
Here’s what one of our CRM Partners recently told me “RapidStart CRM worked exactly as expected, we spent less than 2 hours with the client reviewing the wizards and the customer received their customized online CRM system within 2 days” Ahhh, music to my ears…
[info type=”info”]Non-Confidential Information Notice. This post was written by Steve Mordue who is a member of multiple Partner Advisory Councils and is therefore subject to an Enhanced Microsoft Non-Disclosure Agreement regarding information conveyed to PAC Members. All opinions expressed are solely those of Steve Mordue, and no information provided herein is subject to the NDA. Basically, Steve knows a lot more than he let’s on; He’d tell ya, but then he’d have to kill ya.[/info]