The Real Value of a CRM System

Posted by Keith Jolie on Tuesday, April 30, 2013 Under: Strategies
My wife is involved in the planning and coordination of one of the top annual fundraising balls in the greater Toronto area. For the last three years she has been contacted by a company that wants to provide services (event management I think) for the ball. Every year for the last three years, the sales rep has called her about 2-3 months before the ball. At that point - The planning is done, a good part of the execution is under way and most of the tickets are sold. In other words, the opportunity is lost before the phone call is made.

Over the last 20 years working in sales it feels like I've used most every CRM/Sales tracking system out there and let's face it, this isn't new's not rocket science.  So why is my wife getting a call 3 years running at the worst time of the year?

I think there are two things at play here (assuming the sales rep isn't just incompetent). 

  1. CRM solutions rarely get implemented in such a way that they automate sales processes.   This is a result of how these systems are sold (or rather purchased).   
  2. Too little time is spent evaluating how a CRM will make the sales job more productive and entirely too much is spent on the reports the system will produce .  
  3. Companies try to accomplish too much with a CRM implementation and as a result they end up making data entry requirements onerous and complicated - this contributes to slow adoption or non-compliance with the new processes.

So what is the solution?

  1.  A CRM is meant to lubricate the process of engaging with potential customers until they are clients and with current clients to ensure that they continue to buy.  A good CRM facilitates the relationship part - so when a prospect says no and explains the timing of their event - that really should trigger the scheduling of a whole chain of events that will help the rep close that business in the following year.  Even if a new person is hired - the prospect should not be lost.
  2. To effectively implement such a system that will help a rep to do the right thing at the right time requires that you understand your sales cycles, your clients, and that you've got a tested sales process. 
  3. Finally you need to provide the kind of sales training that is specific to your products and services that will make your sales team effective.   

When building a sales organization, recognize that you hire a sales rep for their ability to engage in effective communication with a prospective customer but also realize that many of the tasks that will be a part of their daily responsibilities may not be a natural part of their working style or personality.  

So the biggest value of a CRM system?  I think that when it's implemented the right way, a CRM helps the round peg of a sales rep fit into the square hole of managing tasks so that they can focus on doing their most valuable work - talking to the right clients at the right time and advancing the sale.  After all, if you are selling and being profitable - reports suddenly are less important.

By Keith Jolie

In : Strategies 

Tags: "customer relationship management" crm sales "sales management" "sales team" 
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