Relationships count in every business, but for a private equity firm the ability to see the extent of relationships can be the difference between a good firm and a great firm. Its uncommon in other industries to see the web of connections that are seen in private equity. A company that a private equity firm works with could be the debt provider in one deal, a co-investor in another, and could be the company that brings the next big deal to its doorstep. And that same company could also be part of a bidding group that is that is the competition in another deal. Try keeping track of this in one CRM, even one system, and do it all through a tool that everyone uses everyday like, perhaps Microsoft Outlook. And to make matters even more complicated your system has to be able to turn on a dime in order to respond to one of the most transitory regulatory environments since the New Deal. These problems are right in the wheelhouse of CRM 2011.
First, CRM 2011 is inherently designed to work with Microsoft Outlook. Other CRM essentially try and force a synchronization. I will routinely get the question of “Am I in Outlook or CRM?” in working with new users. My answer is “Yes”: especially with 2011 , the difference is blurred. This is no small concern when thinking about how users are going to interact with the system. For one thing, users don’t have to go to sign in to X other systems each potentially with its own password and, even more importantly, its own learning curve. Instead, CRM 2011 is “just” another set of folders in Outlook, and that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Outlook integration. But think about this feature in concrete terms: what if users had a Deals or Fundraising folder right in Outlook? What if you could tie Outlook appointments to a particular Deal, or even to a potential lender on that deal in 2 clicks? And of course, what if you wanted to see all this in a dashboard that shows your Deal pipeline for the year in Outlook? CRM 2011 has its own user-friendly charting tools to provide dashboards that are the three R’s: rich, relevant, and role-based. And of course, these dashboards are Outlook accessible. (See screen shot below as an example of the Outlook experience).
But even if you take Outlook off the table, CRM 2011 is powerful in its ability to surface relationships and do it rapidly. Being able to show how a given financial services company may interact with a private equity firm in the aforementioned ways is an easy feat for CRM 2011. In a world where a financial services company is always acting in many different capacities and their roles change depending on the deal, this is not by any stretch a hypothetical example. And of course, this is the kind of thing we see again and again in our work in private equity. But let’s talk about “rapidly”. Imagine being in a room with a compliance team, and they bring up a new requirement that the CRM must follow. And of course, this requirement must be followed presently. And then imagine that you prototype that change in the meeting. If only all meetings could be like that? This example is not hypothetical but very relevant. One question to ask in terms of a CRM is quite simply: can I change it if I need to?
This segues into what I think is the most compelling feature of CRM 2011 in that it allows for a private equity based CRM solution to be brought into a firm, without being locked into that solution. The regulatory environment brought about by Dodd-Frank is still being interpreted, and will most likely continue to be so for years. The takeaway here is that firms need to be able to react quickly, but have a solid foundation. That is CRM 2011.
This will be the first in a series of articles discussing the challenges faces by financial services firms and how CRM 2011 meets that challenge. If you’d like to hear more about our insights and experience in the private equity arena, and how we use CRM 2011 to solve problems like the ones discussed here, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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