Your CRM system is the clearing house where every customer contact should be stored and made accessible to the management team, sales, ops, marketing and finance.
A good system will turn your data into information to provide insights about your customers and their habits, the market and its potential and the sales team and its performance.
But hold on a minute. The system can only analyse and report on data that has been entered in to it. If there’s no data to work on, your CRM is an expensive gimmick and, unfortunately, this is all too often the case. Why?
The answer, if your CRM system is primarily used as a sales tool, is that this means relying on the sales team to update the system and, as a class, sales people hate logging information because it eats up way too much time. The information they are asked for is often nothing to do with their goal of closing the sale and to make matters worse they probably haven’t even been told why this information is important to the business in the first place.
However, for any organization that wants to succeed, it is important that sales do embrace the CRM and input the data that they collect during sales calls because this information can only help the company to make better, more informed decisions. So, your sales team need to buy into why they are being asked to log this information, you have to make it easy for them to do so and, finally, there must be something in it for them.
So what do salespeople want from their CRM?
- They want simple
CRM tends to cater to three groups: management, marketing and sales and they each have different requirements. Managers want to know what’s happening; are the sales team achieving their numbers? Marketers need to understand how, or even if, their stratagems and campaigns are working so they can constantly tweak their promotions and tactics.
Finally there’s the sales team, and they just want to sell. Shiny, multi-coloured reports pulling together half a dozen different data streams may be just what the marketing doctor ordered but the sales person’s heart will be unmoved. What they need is a system that is intuitive and simple and that delivers fast, usable information.
A good, correctly tailored CRM is of real value to sales. Their targets are going up, sales teams are shrinking and no other tool can make usable information available like CRM. So the challenge is to encourage sales to perceive CRM as an assistant, not an additional management shackle.
The key is to choose a CRM that automates as much as possible, for example by creating as many pre-defined fields as possible that they can complete quickly and logically after the call. A good CRM will allow you to do this, and will also let you to tweak and update these fields as often as required. In addition, you should choose a system that will allow them to access the system immediately, or even during, the call.
- They want news, not history
Management use CRM to see what is happening. Marketing use CRM to see what has happened. Sales need CRM to tell them about the future.
CRM should alert and remind sales about the next stage so they can be ready for the next contact. For them, a good CRM is one where they look-up the prospect’s profile and everything they need to take the prospect forward is right there. It’s all about what’s next.
This is a simplistic view of course and there can be no doubt that history can teach us what went wrong and what went well but this will only work if you present the system in a way that the sales team care about; hitting target and earning money.
- They want CRM for them, not you.
The best way of selling your sales people on the idea of CRM is involving them from the outset. When you’re choosing a system, you should go for a supplier that builds a system around the distinct needs of all stakeholders, in other words your sales team should be involved right from the start so that their requirements can be put at the heart of the system. They can have the benefits of being structured and organized without actually having to do it themselves, but only if the CRM is built around them.
- They want flexible
A typical off the shelf or semi-configurable system blithely assumes that all prospects will dutifully trot down the process path laid out for them by the CRM itself. Anyone with any experience of selling understands that this is an unrealistic hope with little grounding in the real world.
Sales people want a CRM that matches the process flows which they and the prospect actually use. This demands a solution that will support them without too much clerical work whilst providing enough flexibility to alter the flow as required. The best systems will allow you to offer the sales team a degree of self-customisation, within a standard level of record keeping.
The last point to note in this section is the syndrome of Death By Compulsory Fields. No-one will fill out a form that requires 25 compulsory answers; try that and I guarantee you a mutiny.
- They want to win
If sales people are not interested in the information they are being asked to collect they often record it incompletely, if they record it at all. However, there is no getting away from the fact that there is information that the sales team could supply that would be genuinely useful to the business and this need can only grow in the future. Perhaps then, you need to rethink your reward structure to include recognising actions taken by sales that they currently don’t see any reason for taking.
For example, gamified CRMs that reward for compliance with a structured process that’s known to generate results will improve the performance of staff who are behind the curve. You show a sales person a league table and he or she will immediately set to work to be at the top of it.
Your sales team have got to get used to a data-driven future where the organisation orients itself along lines dictated by massive amounts of highly-analysed customer and prospect data. They have to come around to the fact that the information they generate when they make a sale, or do anything else, is absolutely vital; they can’t just shake hands and move on to the next prospect. However, if you choose the right CRM supplier, one that includes the sales department from the get go and builds to their needs and specification you can give them a tool that really is ‘sales’ software.