This isn’t consistent in every industry, but the challenges of choosing, implementing and managing CRM is a conversation that I have been involved with many times over the last 10 years.
Where did we go wrong?
- This one is easy – too many businesses use CRM as a big stick when it should be a communication device.
What is wrong with our sales team?
- Fit for purpose, sales people love the autonomy of being out on the road and helping people. They are often excellent communicators and negotiators but sometimes do not have writing skills or administrative ability – they are human after all.
- Clarity, often CRM is implemented without management sharing with their teams on why they are doing it and what they are looking to achieve, they may not even know themselves.
- Cultural acceptance, I have worked in a number or companies where CRM system was not used at all by Senior Management, they had no idea how it worked, what the challenges were nor made any attempt to learn – the hypocrisy was palpable, front line teams tried but the culture could not support it costing them millions of dollars and lost productivity.
What is should we do?
- Good question, many answers depending on where your company is at.
- Objectives, What are you looking to achieve? Why are you not achieving it with your current structure, systems and culture? Share and solve these problems with your teams.
- Collaborate, involve the right people in research and testing including (most importantly) front line people who are going to have to use it, day in and day out, not just procurement and the IT department who do it from an office with cable or strong Wi-Fi.
- Investment, be careful about the “cost”, in one company I worked with the CRM was “free” with a larger IT platform, most of us have been around long enough to know you get what you pay for, in this case you could not quantify the lost opportunity cost.
- Be Realistic by supporting your best sales people with office based administrative support. For a third of their cost the return on the investment will be worth it as you free them up to do what they are good at – finding and developing business. Don’t hamstring by having them do something that drains them of energy, they’ll do it for a while (poorly) but eventually they’ll leave. There is a better way, we just need to be more creative.
- Not every organisation needs a CRM program, maybe not now or maybe even ever. If your senior leaders aren’t with the program, spend your money on something else.
**Charlie is an expert in developing external sales teams and people, particularly where relationships and solution selling are the key differentiators.