Innovative CRM strategies with business leader Scott Cundill

As we automate our interactions, are we drifting away from authentic human connection?

This question sets the stage for our discussion with Scott Cundill, a pioneer in rethinking how we make genuine connections amidst digital noise. With almost three decades of experience in the CRM and marketing industry, Scott has cemented his status as a successful tech entrepreneur, sales professional, and published author.

Scott’s latest venture, My Most Trusted Network (MMT), offers a refreshing alternative to the impersonal expanses of platforms like LinkedIn. MMT redefines professional networking by emphasizing real, spam-free interactions through warm introductions, ensuring that every connection within its network is a real person, one handshake away from another.

Who doesn’t like the sound of genuine interaction, free from spam, fake profiles, and unsolicited sales pitches? In this interview we explore the essence of rethinking CRM, moving beyond automated systems to prioritize human connections and personal introductions. Scott’s approach challenges the status quo, advocating for a CRM strategy that values quality over quantity, relationships over transactions. We extend our deepest gratitude to him for sharing his journey, insights, and innovative solutions with us. Join us as we uncover the power of putting human connections at the heart of professional networking and CRM.

Headshot of Scott Cundill, Business leader with alternative strategies for CRM.

Scott Cundill
Beyond founding My Most Trusted Network Scott is an accomplished author. His works include ‘The Captivating One-liner’ and ‘How NOT to Start and Run Your Own Business’ both of which offer invaluable insights into effective communication and entrepreneurship. His achievements extend beyond the boardroom to the martial arts arena where he has earned bronze medals at the Kung-Fu World Championships.

You’re known for your strong views on CRM systems. What inspired this stance?

The best and really the only way of getting in front of a high quality decision maker is to be introduced to them. CRMs do not facilitate this process at all. They used to get away with this because the tools and plugins that they author are significant in their ability to create outreach programs like bulk email, bulk SMS, social media plugins and now of course AI and automation.

But we need to face facts; Social media is becoming an automated, dead internet, and any other kind of outreach other than by way of personal introduction (either by networking in person or virtually) is becoming increasingly futile. However, those with extremely large budgets are able to tap into large communities and in a way own them from a branding perspective. This is a very powerful and effective strategy.

Could you share your perspective on where most CRM solutions are missing the mark for businesses today?

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Firstly people are stuck with the CRM they have. Moving or changing to another CRM is almost impossible unless budgets are high. This is the goal of any CRM company.

Secondly, the constant and continuous need for upgrades and new plugins to “stay in touch with the market needs”. This has resulted in a progressively frustrating dependence on CRM companies, with a continuous need to upgrade and learn new features.

Finally the number one way to get in front of people these days is through introductions and proper genuine nurturing of those people you know and trust. CRM has lost its way in this regard.

With many professionals expressing frustration with platforms like LinkedIn, MyMostTrusted.net offers a unique community-focused alternative. Could you share your inspiration behind creating MyMostTrusted and how it aims to redefine professional networking?

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A couple of years ago I realised that LinkedIn and social media have changed dramatically. People no longer know their contacts and connections. The impact of this is substantial. It means that relationships become difficult to build and track and manage within the social media framework. Now to align this to CRM what we end up with is CRM systems that are designed for customer relationship management that are really prospecting tools with a lot of bells and whistles designed to automate and make the relationship building process slicker and easier. Sounds good on paper however the problems start occurring when relationships are all bundled together and the communication approach is relatively similar across different audiences. The result of this is that the really strong connections, the people that you genuinely know and trust are not getting treated the way that they should because there’s a kind of homogeneous communication approach and they’re just lumped in with that.

My Most Trusted was developed because it only works with your trusted private personal connections. We do not try to compete with a CRM system. We get high quality connections in touch with each other simply through the power of personal introductions. So every single person in our global network across all our white labelled branded networks is a real genuine person that is available to be reached by way of a referral or introduction.

How do you suggest businesses approach customer relationship management differently? What alternative tools or methods do you advocate for?

I advocate for a concept called Pre-CRM. Pre-CRM is where much of the prospecting work happens before it gets into the CRM. Let’s make a clear distinction: on one side, we have automated sales tools and CRMs that primarily rely on automation, which businesses often purchase. On the other, there are human-operated CRM tools, where real salespeople and business owners actively input and manage their sales opportunities. They need to stop just shoving every Tom Dick and Harry into the CRM and only get people who are legitimate opportunities into the CRM. The Pre-CRM work means that you as a business owner or salesperson are strongly building a relationship outside of the CRM and only when that relationship is strong enough will it become an opportunity in that CRM. Until that time, and this is very important, focus on building an authentic relationship with the prospect. This goes hand in hand with the notion of soft selling. Soft selling is all about building a relationship in a non-pushy way and building trust and credibility one-on-one with the prospect over time. Let them make the decision to buy from you themselves, because you’re showing genuine care for them and their business.

What role do you think emerging technologies, like AI, should play in the future of customer relationship management?

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Well let’s start with the bad. CRM systems are now using AI to automate much of the communication that goes out on social media, email and what I call “intelligent spam.” Intelligent spam has done the research on you before the message is sent. It knows about your business, your preferences and a lot about you personally so a tailored message specifically to you looks incredibly attractive. The problem is this leads to the “dead internet” which I talked about earlier. It’s become about talking to a bot. LinkedIn and social media posts are not written by real people, and they are being read by bots and responded to by… you guessed it, more bots.

Where AI does become useful is in the pre-research required to get to know somebody and their company. This sounds like intelligent spam, but the execution is always human to human and never automated. A great relationship requires research and understanding and AI is really going to help you craft the right message to the right person in the right way. Now here comes the issue: Do you take that information and use it to simply create a form of intelligent spam, or do you take that information, get an introduction, meet that person and pick it up in a human way?

Let me tell you what is happening right now and it’s only going to get worse for sales people and businesses. Decision makers are not going to respond to any message at all without an introduction. So my advice is this: create a Pre-CRM strategy that focuses on building strong relationships with prospective customers in the human to human way. One individual that I know has been sent by his company to the Monaco grand Prix for no other reason than to mix with the influential people there. You can strike huge deals very quickly when face-to-face with the right quality people. And this is the key! You need to get one-on-one with high quality people and just throwing people into a CRM and then using automation tools is simply not going to cut it.

From your extensive experience, what are the key elements in building and maintaining strong customer relationships, with or without a CRM?

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The first step is to understand that your network is the most powerful asset that you have in your business. And when I say network I’m talking about people you genuinely know and trust. It is absolutely imperative that you work with those people you know and trust, reach out to them, touch base, go for coffee or give them a call. Reach out and reconnect with them in an authentic and engaging way. You can use AI to streamline tasks, e.g., by analyzing someone’s LinkedIn profile and job history to understand their current role. It can even draft a message for you. However, I’m not advocating for letting AI fully automate the process of research, message writing, and sending, thus eliminating human involvement. This approach is a disaster waiting to happen, damaging the relationships you’ve worked hard to build—the worst mistake in business.

Next, it’s crucial to develop credibility pieces. A credibility piece demonstrates your authenticity and deep understanding of your industry and audience’s challenges, showcasing your expertise to the world. I’m about to go on national radio to do an interview about building authentic relationships in business. The first thing I’m going to do with that radio interview is send it on to my trusted network which I’ve been building. It only takes one of my trusted network to forward it onto someone else and that person could turn into a large deal for me by way of introduction. This forms part of a larger strategy where providing your network with tools or reasons to refer you in a non-pushy, credibility-building manner proves to be incredibly powerful. We’ve completely lost touch with nurturing our networks and enabling them to nurture theirs. By supporting your contacts to engage with their networks, you create mutual opportunities for success, allowing both parties to benefit from each other’s connections.

Why has the simple idea been forgotten?

Rethinking CRM in Summary

Here are some core takeaways from our enlightening conversation with Scott:

  1. The seduction of automation and the promise of efficiency have overshadowed the foundational human aspect of networking.
  2. Lets return to the roots of networking by building genuine connections and re-engaging with our trusted contacts personally.
  3. We need to ensure a balance between leveraging technology and maintaining the human touch that forms the basis of strong business relationships.

The internet never forgets. If you spam someone today, that spam message will be in their direct messenger inbox for eternity. If you meet them in person in the future, they will look back, see that message, and that’s not great for your reputation.

A massive thank you to Scott Cundill for his time and for reminding us that at the heart of technology, its the human connection that truly drives business forward.

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