A CRM system is not like a Finance system. A CRM system can be ignored by users whereas a new finance system has to be used even if the users don’t like it. Invoices still have to be created and sent. Bills still have to be paid. But new opportunities don’t have to be entered into CRM in order for me as a sales person to chase the sale.
The sales area has traditionally been “IT free”. Sales people have not been given electronic data systems to help them with their work so they have most often worked without any. It is typical to find sales contacts stored on personal spread sheets or in Outlook or other Contact lists. Sales opportunities are most often recorded in the heads of each sales person. Fortunately for many businesses, this has often been enough. The combination of an excellent sales staff, buoyant market place, and a limited number of clients at a given time, have all added to continued sales.
But this is not always the case is it? We find that our market place is not always buoyant and that sometimes sales people have to juggle a large list of both existing clients and potential ones.
As a CRM consultant I have found many businesses are struggling to get the most from their usually excellent sales staff when this staff have to rely on whatever is rattling round their head on any given day. In fact it is common to find that the business is bringing in a much larger volume of sales leads than the sales staff (using their traditional methods) can handle. The result is the sales person goes after what they consider the hottest leads and the rest die from lack of attention.
This wouldn’t be so bad if these “hottest leads” always turned to sales. Sadly this is rarely the reality. Once one of these “hot” leads turns cold it is too late to try to resurrect a neglected lead. I for one know that if someone doesn’t ring me back within a day of me making an enquiry, I will go elsewhere.
So why can’t I get my sales people to use CRM? It should be obvious that a systematic approach to nurturing existing clients, and following up leads will result in more sales.
Here are some reasons to consider why:
- My manager has not made it a priority and does not use the CRM system to measure my performance.
This is the most common and most serious reason why I don’t use CRM. On the other hand it can be the easiest thing for the business to address. “Leading by example” is the most powerful change-management technique available to management.
- I am not used to using electronic systems in my job so I am suspicious of “all that extra work” I will have to do.
In my experience this reason is closely related to the first point. If I know I am being measured on the figures appearing in CRM, I will be less likely to see it as a waste of time. So if you hear this as a reason for not using CRM, look to your management practices.
- I want to use it but it all seems too complicated and anyway, haven’t been trained properly.
When a project implementation budget is tight the first thing to be cut down is training. This should be the last thing to cut. It would be better not to implement a CRM system at all than to skimp on training.
My previous blog titled Four simple CRM fields to ensure effective sales analysis hits at the core of how simple it can be for sales people to maintain effective data in CRM.
- I am on the road a lot and don’t have access to my corporate CRM system via my PC.
This can be fixed quite simply. Any good CRM system will offer both mobile and offline solutions to support sales people. Microsoft CRM provides as standard the ability to store selected data on my PC so I can look up my contacts, create opportunities, quotes, or orders and then synchronise back to the corporate system at my convenience.
The 3rd party provider CWR Mobile provides a function-rich solution for mobile phone and iPad users, no matter which phone they own. This solution can be used online and offline.
This list of reasons why I won’t use CRM could go on and on. But the bottom line is that if my manager is using it to monitory my performance, then I will use it. Every other reason can be dealt with as required. On the other hand, if my manager is not using it in this way, then all other interventions are at significant risk of failing.
It was William Edwards Deming who famously observed that 85% of all operational failures are the fault of fallible managers, not failing workers. His point is irrefutable. Managers alone have the power to establish systems, and systems largely determine the quality of outputs.