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Starting A New Cycle

We are on the eve of a big holiday weekend and all the good folks in my corner of New England are all about the final preparations for being out on their boats to enjoy the beginning of summer. The weather has not been all that cooperative for the last month and that has raised the stakes even higher. This is a must do situation and everything has to be in a high state of readiness. Anticipation of this weekend actually starts earlier in the spring when many of us were going through our annual ritual of nautical preparation.

There are many things required for the boat to be fully functioning so that when summer finally arrives in full glory you can turn the key and be off in the sun and spray. Back in April, weather permitting; an endless list of chores unfolds, all with the hope of being out on the water serving as the motivation. With any luck the investment will pay off and when that magical long weekend arrives with a blue sky forecast, the boat will serve without disappointment.

Those that take short cuts or procrastinate on their preparatory chores will invariably pay the price. I am not sure what is worse: never leaving the dock with a boatload of happy people and an overstuffed cooler due an engine that won’t turn over; or being towed back to shore with a boatload of irritable crew and a long-emptied cooler due to an engine that died in the middle of a far-away bay. Those visions also serve as my motivation during spring prep.

This is a seasonal activity for boaters, especially us New England types. Some cycles are annual and some cycles are longer. I have learned that CRM programs also go through cycles. They are not annual – more like every two or three years, but there is a cycle. There is a start to the cycle, comprised of planning and preparation; there is a period of deployment and enhancement; and then, unfortunately, there eventually is a period of decline. User adoption drops off, data quality decreases, managers relax their vigilance. It is a lot like a kind of CRM winter.

Snow Boat 1

Then there is talk of something new. Sometimes there is a desire for a new CRM platform. There might be a change of senior management and a direction for the business. Sometimes there is talk about raising the bar – wanting to take CRM to the next level. This, ladies and gentlemen is the CRM spring, when it is time to get the boat ready for a new cycle. While it is not always the same organizational dynamic that causes the cycle to start again, but there will always be something to drive it. You can sense the signals, just like seeing buds on trees and robins in the lawn. It is time for getting your CRM program ready for a new cycle.

The start of a new CRM cycle means that you do the same things that were required when you started for the first time. You plan for what you are going to accomplish – where are going to take the business with this revolution, what do we need to build, what actions do we need to take to get the folks ready to perform? You may already own the boat, but you need to change the oil, do some polishing, update some electronics, and maybe even upgrade the engine. Your CRM program needs the same type of attention.

So, if you are starting to witness the signs of CRM spring, think of what you want to experience when summer comes around – do the preparation to gain the benefits. And remember, don’t take any short cuts. The last thing you want is to have your CRM platform towed back to shore because it died while you were out having fun in the middle of that long holiday weekend (which would equate to the middle of your peak sales season).

Enjoy your summer!

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