I met with one of my clients recently, a VP of Sales, who was visibly frustrated that his sales team was not using their Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) to document critical client information and sales progress. “I had our sales funnel review with the Board,” he lamented, literally wincing as he put his head in his hands. “It was so painful. Without accurate information, we’re just guessing. We just don’t have dependable data for forecasting. Don’t they realize this impacts our operations, our production, our supply chain- EVERYTHING?!”
Well, no, unfortunately. They may not know or they may not understand how not having this data in their CRM impacts them.
Today’s business is too complex, multi- faceted, and rapidly changing to not have good, up-to-date sales data. Sales teams rely on sharing critical customer information so they can be informed and demonstrate their best value proposition with a united front, rather than a disjointed effort. As with my client, accuracy in pipelines/funnels is important to help forecast production, ordering of supplies needed for production, labor, you name it.
If this information is so critical, then why don’t more company sales forces use their CRM more effectively?
1. Sales people love interacting with people, not with a CRM.
“I’m spending too much time with paperwork when I should be out selling” is a common complaint I hear from sales people. Sales people don’t like using a CRM because they don’t see how using the system benefits them personally. Perhaps worse, some salespeople see the CRM system as Big Brother- a way for management to “police” them - rather than a tool that helps them be more successful.
- What you can do about it: Help your team see the bigger picture, that is, how this information impacts the company as a whole, and how it impacts them personally. If managers are viewed as coaches who sincerely want to help, they should have credibility and the trust of the team.
2. Lack of IT/systems knowledge
Do your salespeople know how to use your CRM? Many times the reason it is not being used is because they don't know how to use it.
- What you can do about it: Of course, you’ll want to make sure they are trained. But don’t neglect the impact of “just in time” training. Have managers work with them to enter/review information immediately after sales calls as they gain information, to get more comfortable using their technical CRM skills and also keep the system current.
3. The CRM was designed in a sales “vacuum”.
That is, without consulting the users (sales) first. CRM systems often fail because the company has decided to invest in a new piece of technology, “wouldn’t it be great to have a fantastic CRM system?”, without engaging with the users first.
- According to CRM magazine:
- 50% of a CRM initiative's success depends on getting the people component right- the behaviors you want to see them demonstrate
- 30% depends on putting into place solid customer-facing business processes
- Only 20% depends on your actual CRM technologies and applications
- What you can do about it: Start with the behaviors and processes you need for success, and only then, acquire the platform to support these behaviors and processes. Yet most companies start with the final 20% and end up with a platform that’s far too complex and cumbersome for their real needs. Which brings us to…
4. Complicated system
One of my sales clients had a simple, two page client snapshot their team was required to complete. It was short, yet comprehensive and netted out each customer’s unique priorities, business climate and strategy to help increase organizational customer intelligence. They had 90% compliance; pretty amazing. Then some IT guy got a hold of it and blew it out to 12 pages. Compliance dropped, almost immediately to 18%. If it’s too difficult to use, they won’t.
- What you can do about it: Keep it simple and stick to the important information only. Work with your sales management team to come to agreement on the critical information needed to bring value. Resist overburdening the user with detail that’s nice to have, but not essential.
5. Lack of Accountability and Coaching
Without follow up and/or strong personal initiative the team will focus on other things.
- What you can do about it: Are your managers supporting your sales team to use the system? Helping them understand why this information is so critical? Reviewing with them as they help them plan their sales strategy?
Make it Sing: Integrate the desired sales behaviors, language, sales process, and metrics into your CRM. For example, for our Counselor Salesperson Clients, require Discovery Agreements, customer business buying and personal motives and Communications Styles in the system. Tie everything together so sales people know where they are in the sales process and what they need to do to advance to the next phase. This will reinforce the powerful, consultative behaviors you want them to demonstrate, and give them clear measures of milestones and success.
With these important steps your sales team will be in a much better position to stop avoiding your CRM and start using it.
Good luck, and as always, let me know how I can help!