CRM-PM integration: The fix to the sales team-professional services relationship

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In most professional services organizations, there is an inherent tension between the sales team and the services team. Why is this?

Sometimes, the professional services team perceives that the sales team has over promised on the capabilities of the product. Other times, the services team may feel that the sales team misrepresented the scheduling or the timing of the implementation. Worst, the services team may uncover that the sales team has underpriced the project.

From the sales team's perspective, they may perceive that the professional services team does not give them updates as to the progress of the project. Or, the sales team may feel that the services team cannot deliver projects on time. How can organizations successfully resolve this two-sided tension?

The core issue at play is communication, and, because sales people are most often mobile, traveling and out visiting customers, a good CRM strategy needs to be employed to facilitate communication.

Similarly, the professional services team is often out of the office, at the client site implementing the solution, product or service that the organization sells. This team needs a decent project management solution to track project progress and milestones and to report on project status. It helps greatly if both solutions are Web-based and therefore accessible to both teams from remote, whether that is the customer location, the airport or home.

If both teams are utilizing good point solutions, CRM for the sales team, and PM (project management) for the services team, then the next step is to get these best-of-breed solutions talking to each other, so that each team can live in the appropriate software application. That is why I recommend integration between the two solutions.

The sales team wants to know the status of their customer's project, so the PM should pass information to the CRM. That way, the sales person can inform the customer about project progress directly from his or her CRM.

The project manager and resource manager want to know when a new project is likely to be launched, so the CRM should pass over any sales opportunities that are 75% likely to close. This can initiate a project in the project management solution so that the services team can start planning the project and mapping out resources in anticipation of the new job.

Even with just these two data points passing back and forth, the communication will be improved between the two teams. The services team can start planning in advance, lessening the tension of having too much work and not enough time to fulfill it.

Sales can deliver the right information to their customers at the right time. The organization will move forward a unified purpose: satisfying customers and enhancing revenue and market share.

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