Traditionally, customer relationship management (CRM) systems are met with different levels of enthusiasm, depending on the role of the individual within the organization. I’ve seen this over 20 years in sales and business development, from roles in both direct sales and sales management. The response to a proposed CRM usually goes something like this.
CEO: “This is great!”
VP of Sales: “This is great! I can better manage my team this way.”
Sales Representative: “What a pain in the ass! I have to enter in all this crap so my boss can micro-manage me. I’d rather just go out and sell.”
The breakdown in the third group, the Sales Rep, is pervasive in every company I’ve seen, large and small. The irony is that the CEO and VP of Sales want the same thing as sales reps do: They want them to sell.
To sales reps, a CRM is a necessary evil. The system forces them to key-in information on every account, so they often fill in as few fields as possible. They find the tricks of entering a space or an X for fields they don’t know, because it’s easier than looking it up. They don’t check to see if the company already exists. And even if it does, it’s sometimes easier for them to just type in COMPANY NAME_B so they can make sure they ‘own’ the account.
These common practices ruin data quality. Duplicates, lost account details and broken reporting capabilities all come to the forefront. How many times have you created a report and said, “Why are those accounts showing? Those aren’t mine!” So then you redo the report and figure out how to exclude accounts…and so on…and so on. Finally frustrated, you export your customer list into Excel. At that point, you’ve lost a key CRM value proposition.
So now you have a CRM system with diminished value, and a sales team that only makes updates when forced to do so. What now?
Finding a Better Way
What every salesperson really wants is to have a single environment where they can report on their sales effort, and get information they need. They want a solution that helps them research, plan, execute and improve their daily sales process. Going to three or four different sites or applications is inefficient and burdensome. It’s quite simple: If you provide more value within the CRM, the sales team will look at the environment completely differently. It can become their go-to tool, a place they know they can get better prepared for their next call or visit, they can find more prospects and they can better discover potential cross-sell and upsell opportunities.
So, you have a choice: Continue down the path of ‘stick’ motivation (as opposed to ‘carrot’), and watch your CRM adoption falter. If you check usage metrics, they will surely show how monthly user activity within your CRM steadily declines – with bursts of activity the day or hour before a new pipeline report is due.
Isn’t CRM supposed to focus on ‘R’, relationship? Building a relationship with a client is accomplished through better understanding their needs, learning about their industry, and growing the relationship through new contacts. The CRM environment is prepped and ready to enable this. It just needs information and insight to become an attractive place for your sales team to spend quality time.
D&B and Data.com
I’ve used Salesforce.com for the past 14 years. And I can say that Data.com, part of Salesforce.com, is built to put the ‘R’ back into CRM. Through a partnership with Dun & Bradstreet, Data.com delivers a pre-built cloud-based solution that naturally integrates insight from D&B, as well as contacts from their Connect platform, into the core Salesforce application.
From the first keystroke, sales reps are provided with auto-fill options, configurable and controlled via security settings. So they have to key-in less, and are exposed to more. If they get voicemail when contacting a new prospect, they can quickly find another number or email address to try. If they are contacting a prospect at a new company, they can learn more about them, including minute details like SIC (Standard Industry Classification) code, and even get a list of suggested questions using a new feature coming in Salesforce Prospector 2.0.
And while they are learning in the CRM, they become better stewards of the database. Deeper familiarity with the user interface is a natural outcome, as users seek to learn more about their customer. It’s no longer the painful weekly or monthly process. Rather, a CRM system can become a trusted resource that really does help to improve their sales relationships.
What can the sales rep accomplish now within the CRM? Stay tuned for my next blog, where we highlight some best practices for your sales team.