From building castles to creating CRM forums, Duncan Muir is an innovator at home and in the office. We talked to the Head of B2B CRM at Standard Life about why knowledge-sharing and stakeholder engagement are fundamental to realising the full potential of CRM.


How did you end up in your role?

I’ve had various jobs since joining Standard Life 12 years ago: I’ve worked in propositions, marketing, and distribution. This has given me a great insight into the business and the solutions that we deliver to independent financial advisors (IFAs) and investors.

I am now part of the data and analytics division and head up a team of four. I love innovating and being creative, both in my professional and personal life. I’m constantly challenging my creative side with my six-year-old daughter, like building castles for her to play in from old cardboard boxes, and at work I’ve developed numerous solutions and services for both colleagues and clients over the years.

I recently created a Facebook group to help raise awareness about men’s mental health - it’s an issue that often gets ignored. I want to encourage men to talk about how they are feeling. We’re all busy people, but it’s important to find time to get involved in activities for the greater good. All of these have been developed or created with one common theme; understanding the audience and their needs.


Why is knowledge-sharing so important to innovation?

I’ve deliberately moved around the business so I can build up a richer and broader understanding of how we can deliver greater value to IFAs and investors. I’m always looking upwards and outwards, which can be hard as daily pressures often take over.

I believe there’s a lot of untapped CRM potential not only at Standard Life but in businesses generally. We need to do more to engage with customers, which means people have to step out of their comfort zone. I want to help everyone achieve better outcomes - I don’t see other businesses as competitors but collaborators. To help CRM practitioners connect and share success, I’ve created a forum called The CRM Crowd on LinkedIn.


How did you untap the CRM potential at Standard Life?

I took some time out to review our current CRM strategy and realised the platform business could make more of our Salesforce investment to enhance engagement with IFAs and provide a better experience for both customers and colleagues.

I read a lot of Salesforce customer success stories to get inspiration - particularly from other industry sectors - and they’ve helped me discover where we are and where we can get to. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling buttons or complex financial advice platforms – you still need to understand your customers’ needs and engage with them at the right time and on the right channel.

Dreamforce has also been a great source of ideas: I was in innovation mode from 8am-6pm every day! The sessions and speakers cemented my plans and helped to define the transition to Salesforce Lightning and our CRM evolution.


Tell us about the transition to Lightning

I’ll be honest, it wasn’t easy because of how CRM had been approached in the past. Our team of four had to remove 6,000 duplicate records as part of the migration in 2018. We were supported by a Salesforce Programme Architect but most of the work was completed in-house, which I am really proud of. I wanted to implement Lightning at top speed but soon realised we needed to slow it down to ensure everyone was ready to change their processes, approaches and mindsets.


How did you enable cultural change?

It’s important to facilitate stakeholder engagement and raise awareness when embarking on a CRM overhaul. We organised town hall sessions to make sure as many people as possible could feel involved in the project and also arranged face-to-face and shadowing sessions.

From the outset, I was focused on success - not just in terms of solution implementation but also user adoption and ongoing innovation. And we’ve achieved some great successes within the platform business: lead conversions are up by 20% and the sales team have increased their capacity by 10%.


How did you help people understand the art of the possible?*

Initially we ran an ‘art of the possible’ session with Salesforce and senior leaders in the business. From that we established a programme of work (‘CRM Evolution’) and a user working group represented by all roles in our user base across sales, marketing, and operations.

To support our plans with Lightning we used Trailhead to create personalised trailmixes based on their role in our platform business.  My team are also regular users of Trailhead – across the team we have an average of 40 badges each. I love seeing lightbulbs coming on around a room as people realise what is possible.


Do you have any advice for other Trailblazers?

Take time to define the outcomes that you want to achieve, but don’t get too carried away with the technology. Understand the users and how they interact with customer information to help prioritise what you tackle first. And make sure everyone is engaged from start to finish. Even people who don’t use Salesforce now understand its power and how it can benefit our platform business.

Read the success story to discover how evolving CRM has helped to boost performance and productivity for Standard Life’s platform sales team.