Thank you for reading this month’s Inside Tigunia. Tigunia is comprised of industry-leading experts. Inside Tigunia features full-length, candid conversations to introduce the team to our friends and clients.
This month’s spotlight will be on Carlos Perez.
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Hello, Carlos. Let’s get to it. How did you first find yourself working in the ERP and CRM field?
That was an interesting story. I started my career when I came out of university. I started working in marketing consulting. After a few months, I moved to an advertising agency and again it was in the marketing area. There, I learned about CRM, but it was more like from a strategic point of view. As I moved forward with my career, I ended up working with a Microsoft Gold Partner. The topic of CRM came up and I thought to myself, you know what, I really want to learn more about it. So we decided to use the licenses that we had available for us and we installed Dynamics CRM on premises. I believe it was version 1.2 for an internal implementation and it went really well. The owner of the company was really happy to see all their clients and their contacts and especially all of the opportunities see the pipeline inside CRM.
In fact, he was so happy with it and that he decided to open a new business unit to start selling CRM for existing clients. I ended up leading that business unit and learning more as we went right into developing projects. We started with little ones and as I mentioned before, the first one was the internal implementation. After that, it was one of the owner’s friend’s companies. There were also a few guys in sales we helped. After that, we felt comfortable enough to just operate and market to big clients and we ended up doing several implementations in the following few years. It was a great experience. That’s how I got started.
Throughout your tenure in this field, how would you say the industry itself has evolved? I’m curious to hear your thoughts.
Well, for CRM in particular, I believe that now it’s a lot easier for more organizations to adopt CRM technology. When we started first, the only option, at least coming to Microsoft, was on premises. Other companies like Salesforce, they had already some cloud offerings, but it was still something that was very new, and many people were really not comfortable just yet. Now, we see that the trend is with the cloud and it’s easier for sure.
Let’s say, for a small business in the past you needed to have your own server, you needed to have SQL, you needed to have a domain controller and some other things as part of your infrastructure in order to be able to even implement CRM. Nowadays, if a small business doesn’t have any of that, it doesn’t matter. You can just go and provision a cloud instance and be ready to go with at least the standard functionality almost immediately. So that makes a huge difference in how the industry has become more accessible for everybody. And sure, in larger corporations, they can still do it the way they want to do. It can be cloud-based or on premises. But for small and medium businesses, it’s easier than ever to use this technology.
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. It’s great progress. I know that CRM consulting isn’t just about getting a client setup. Sometimes it’s necessary to improve or reimplement an existing CRM setup. I’m curious if you could describe a time when you and your team were able to improve upon an existing CRM solution.
Absolutely. What I like the most about working in consulting is that you start working with one company in the morning and in the afternoon got you’re working with another one. You can touch two to three businesses in a day.
So every time that we go out and sell a project, we are solving a problem. I remember working with this telecommunications company. They were selling a lot of products that included satellite phones and other satellite-based technologies and devices. Their business was very successful when but when we started the project they had a really primitive customer service system. They were struggling just to keep their clients and distributors happy because the only system that they had was ERP. ERP is really good for certain things but it when it comes to managing the customer service process, it’s really not designed for that. We used dynamics to support that customer service process, and we started by connecting CRM to their ERP system. They especially needed visibility of the orders for each client and they also needed to have a database of existing accounts and existing contacts. Around those, the customer service team was able to create cases.
So, let’s say every time that a distributor or an end customer was returning a phone, the team was able to identify the order, the regional or there and also the device based on the serial number for the for the phone. From there, they were able to immediately initiate a return process or a technical inspection on that phone or whatever needed to be done. We were able to streamline that process and it was such a successful implementation that they gave me a plaque and a hand-written card from the CEO. It was an awesome experience to see that transformation from a primitive process like was happening via the ERP and Excel sheets to having a system in place that was fully integrated. We even implemented a customer portal so customers were able to go and create their own request for returning products. I was very satisfied.
Where do you go to remain up to date on the latest information and tactics in the CRM space?
Microsoft has a learning portal for Dynamics, and I would say that that is my first resource that I use. It provides me with an official description of what is new. Every time that they release a new product, they also produce some sort of training material for that product. It’s fairly limited in terms of knowledge, but I would say that it is the first resource I use. Once the product is in the market, there are plenty of forums I reference. I really like to use YouTube, as well. There are end users and enthusiasts that makes videos about the applications or new technologies. Almost always, there is someone on YouTube who has something.
Yes, YouTube University is a real thing. Last question of a professional nature: how do you create motivation for yourself and for your team, especially as a remote workforce?
Honestly, you need to have you need to be a self-motivated individual. If you’re waiting for external motivation, then you’re in trouble. That’s the nature of this type of work. But in many cases, people are not paying attention to that, so if you need motivation, you need to find within yourself what motivates you. What is the reason why you are doing this job? Because a job is a big part of our day. It becomes a big part of our lives, and we need to be sure that we are at least working on something that we like, something that brings purpose to our day.
I see myself as someone that is helping businesses to grow. We are solving problems for those businesses. Our scope of influence is limited as related to information technology, but from there we then provide solutions to people. These are not just businesses, right? Behind a business are the families and individuals that rely on that work to support themselves and their communities.
That makes this work very satisfying for me. So when I when I feel that I need motivation or somehow I’m struggling because I’m bored or have been working for too long in one sitting, I just switch my attention to some other thing for a little while. I like to study something different that is not related to logic, maybe something that is mechanical. So I’ll just go and learn something about how my motorcycle works. Or I’ll go and play my flute or one of my other instruments. Something different than what I’m working on. After that, I can come back to what I have to do related to CRM.
Now, when I work with other people or when I’m leading something, I believe that it’s important for people first to understand what they have to do. People don’t deal very well with not knowing what is being expected from them. I like to be clear about what’s expected, what I want, what deliverables that I’m expecting, what time frame I’m expecting, and being available for them if they have questions. I also try to identify what they are doing very well and I provide positive feedback on a regular basis. I believe that the personal connection is also important because when you work with someone that is not interested in you in a personal level then it becomes just a transactional relationship.
That’s great. You mentioned that work is a very big part of our lives. What do you do to maintain a healthy work life balance?
In my opinion, I think it’s important to recognize that there is no such thing as life and work as separate things. There is only one thing. There is only life, your life is one thing. You do different things in life, but you don’t have different lives. You only have the one. I think you need to be aware of that, and know that you are using your life to do some work. I think of it more as a matter of balance. If you’re trying to achieve balance, you cannot really obsess with one single aspect of life. You need to be aware that your whole life requires that your attention and that it has to be placed in multiple spaces or multiple dimensions.
That includes that your physical aspect, so you need to be healthy to do anything because your body is the vehicle that you have to use to navigate this world. You need to pay attention to your job so that you have some resources to be able to support your life and the people that you’re connected to. You need to invest in those connections so you have healthy relationships. The key is to not become obsessed with only one aspect of your life. That’s when you get in trouble.
Yeah, that’s a fair assessment. What’s your favorite book and movie, and why do they matter to you so much?
Favorite book? I have this one book that I really like, it’s called the Return of the Bird Tribes. I really like it because I feel very connected to the ideas that are in that book. It’s more about how you see spirituality and the connections between different planes of existence. It really has influenced the way I think about things.
When it comes to movies, there are plenty of movies that I like. One I was just reflecting on the other day is James Cameron’s Avatar. It’s that start of when human beings go to this other world and they behave like they usually do, using the environment around them. In contrast, there are these other beings that live there that are totally connected with their environment, with their own planet and. It’s this contrast of different mindsets and how one mindset that is just disconnected from the environment to the point that it becomes destructive. And then you have a mindset that harmonic with your own environment. That dynamic is interesting, and it reminds you that not everything is just about money. You see in the movie they were destroying the whole planet because they want to just extract some mineral. In our real world, we behave the same way a lot of the time. We work to destroy the planet, and with it, the things that we can enjoy and the resources we can use to eat and sustain ourselves, just to get things that we can’t eat and things that ultimately do not bring us joy. All for money. So I think that movie is really well done and beautifully produced. That’s why I really enjoyed it.
Yeah, I love that movie. Alright, then this is the last question. What do you do to make life count?
I believe that your life counts if you can somehow serve other people. If you live a life that is just focused on you, on your own needs or your desires, then it’s pretty much a waste and useless for the collective. You can use the skills and talent and spirit to help others in in in any way, whether it’s small or big and whether it helps a few people or millions of people. The scale is not important. What’s important is that you are actually helping or giving to others. When you’re taking care of yourself and other people, that’s when you’ve found that sweet spot of balance in your life. And that’s when I feel like my life really counts.
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