‘If it is not in CRM, it didn’t happen …’ The more I work with sales leadership and sales excellence the more I understand that this is absolutely true. Most companies have a CRM system and understand that it is an important tool where they store relevant and important customer information. Companies use it to track, manage and analyze interactions with their customers throughout the customer’s lifecycle. Companies also use it to manage the customers in the portfolio to constantly improve the relationship with the customers - and to drive sales growth. Some companies even use CRM to manage their marketing activities at customer level measuring ROMI (Return on Marketing Investments) Nothing new under the sun right?
If you already have a CRM system, please have a close look at how you use it
I often meet companies who have bought and installed a first class CRM system. They struggle with a true implementation ensuring that the CRM systems is used to its full by the sales force. The CRM system is not integrated in the daily routines and as a result data quality is low or perhaps even useless. That is what I define as the gap between installation and implementation. Often the sales force continues to use Excel - preferably locally installed. They only enter the absolute most important information in CRM and often they even try to get someone else to do it for them. Perhaps you know one or two sales reps like this?
The process of moving from Excel to CRM is hard, ongoing and takes time, but the benefits are enormous. For example:
Transparency to all customer activities. If more colleagues are working with the same customer from different ankles, geographies or functions, the transparency shows the customer that you are professional and work as one team
Limits the number of internal interactions tracing information. The information is stored in CRM visible and accessible to everyone and releases more time to provide service to your customers
A full overview of the customer’s history in one system which saves time and shows the customer that they can trust you. Customer information belongs to the company you work for and should stay with the company long after people leave.
An overview of potential sales - customer by customer- based on probabilities helping you forecast future sales and estimate the need for resources in your production
If it is so simple, why does it feel so hard?
It sounds simple and it is simple, and yet management in some companies continues to ignore that the sales force have the truth about the customer portfolio stored in Excel files on their hard drives. They continue to allow that the sales pipeline isn’t up to date. They continue to allow the sales force not to register meeting debriefs or even just log the meeting. And so on.
Moving from Excel to CRM is a multiple step journey and it requires a good proportion of leadership, patience and perseverance. These would be my recommendations:
A project team with technical expertise who can translate the business needs in to CRM functionality
A solid understanding of the sales processes and technical expertise who can move as many of the processes into the CRM as possible
The right mindset and willingness to make the transformation in the business among the leadership team and the sales force
Keep it simple. To begin with you just want to capture the basics; account information, contact information, activity information and opportunity information. Moving to the next level you start integrating to other systems
Yes I agree - updating CRM is possibly not the most interesting job in the world, but the benefits are enormous. Just imagine a day at work where your colleagues are not constantly asking for updates, where your meeting preparation is limited to looking through CRM to see if the customer has met with one of your colleagues, where the systems helps you remember all the little details about your customers and reminds you when it is time to give them a call. Where you have real-time data on target YtD/YtG. Wow ….
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!