Nov 16, 2020 5 min read

Show Don’t Tell: Making the Shift From Spreadsheets to a CRM Solution

Highland takes the initiative to show clients the various possibilities in a modern CRM platform like Creatio.

  • Build
  • Research
Elizabeth Mankowski

Elizabeth Mankowski
Director, Business Solutions Practice

Did you ever have a teacher direct you to “show don’t tell” in your writingMaybe you’ve heard the old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” or “paint a picture for your audience”? These sayings point to the fact that humans are visual thinkers. At Highland, we’ve taken this directive one step further with our CRM implementations.

Users who are new to CRM implementation are typically accustomed to thinking in rows and columns, but now they’ve licensed a platform that represents their data in three or even four dimensions — including time! How can you lead a new client through the thought process to take their spreadsheet-based Pipeline management into a cloud platform?

Every integration situation is different, but here are some common obstacles you may face with CRM integrations, and steps you can take towards solving them.

5 CRM Integration Pitfalls (and How to Avoid Them) | Hurray! You have a CRM! Now what?

Instead of waiting to review progress to forecast once per month, Sales Managers can check progress weekly or even daily.

If you’re the professional services firm assisting with the CRM implementation, how can you guide your client through this evolution?

1. Use pictures.

At Highland, we usually conduct our project kick-off and Discovery sessions in person. In a conference room with our clients, we’ve used whiteboards, paper flip-charts, and even the back of a napkin to illustrate concepts, workflows, and data relationships. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been conducting these meetings via Zoom video conferencing. In advance, we prepare process flows based on industry norms or details from our sales cycle, using tools such as LucidChart and Whimsical. We use these visual representations during Discovery to drive conversations and uncover the nuanced requirements of our client.

Working apart doesn’t have to hinder your ability to connect with clients. Here I detail ways to cultivate personal connections despite the distance.

How to Have a Great Remote Discovery | Working apart doesn’t have to hinder your ability to connect with clients

Flow diagram on a whiteboard (Photo: Elizabeth Mankowski)

2. Create a straw dog and evoke reactions.

We don’t expect our process flow to be 100% correct on the first pass. Instead, we want to drive reactions and discussions. Eliciting engagement from the client is a necessary component of a successful Discovery session. This can be more challenging on a video call than it is in person. When you’re in the same room, you might notice someone scrolling—on Zoom people might turn off their camera and disengage, and you wouldn’t know it. Sometimes intentionally skewing a concept is the best way to grab the client’s attention and get them talking about their “right way.” Taking a SWAG, asking questions, and listening to the answers is one way we live out Highland’s core value of Curiosity.

An Opportunity Workflow with columns labeled Qualification, Presentation, Proposal, Contracting, Closed Won OR Closed Lost

3. Iterate.

We’ve taken a new approach with our latest Creatio client: Proof of concept (also known as Prototyping, which claims is worth 1,000 meetings). We’ve built out several key Sections, shown them to the client, taken feedback, and revised them. Next week, we’ll show these revisions, with the addition of the client’s own sample data, plus two more Sections we’ll demo for the first time. In this iterative fashion, we are spiraling in on the exact configuration that will drive ease of use and efficiency for the client.

4. Be agile.

Sure, iteration is part of an agile development approach. But so is flexibility. Working with a client who has been used to spreadsheets often means they aren’t sure yet what’s even possible in the Creatio platform. The more we show them, the more ideas occur to them. They begin to expand their thinking and desire for capabilities. This collaboration leads us in new directions. Because we re-visit our joint priorities often, we can pivot to tackle that new important idea that just came up.

Surreal illustration of a desktop, with three miniature people lifting a graphic off of the screen using a pulley and hook.

humans are visual thinkers.

So the next time you’re working with a client who’s been buried in the rows and columns of spreadsheets for years, show them what a modern, low-code CRM like Creatio can do!

Use visual workflows, proof of concept, and any other images you can create, to trigger their imaginations.

A glass and neon display of the outline of a person, repeated with a brain between the outlines. Reads