A CRM Alone Won’t Fix the Problem
Here’s a question I’m often asked by both business owners and sales team leaders. “What’s the best CRM for our situation?” What most of those asking really want is a magic bullet to make their salespeople do the right activities to generate enough business.
I am not a highly technical person so I cannot cover the ins and outs of all the different products on the market. But no matter what the product, the answer really is: There isn’t one. I have yet to actually find a CRM that MAKES a salesperson do what they are supposed to do.
Here’s a better answer: The system alone won’t fix the problem.
Which CRM Isn’t the Right Question
I have seen very robust CRM systems with all the bells and whistles be very effective. But I’ve also seen Excel spreadsheets do the job, and of course everything in between. I have seen various systems work great to give leadership better insight into activities and determine resource allocation and I have witnessed them fail miserably. The reason most didn’t work wasn’t because the system was poor, it was because the leadership of salespeople using the system was ineffective.
Here is what I mean. A new CRM system is put in place that helps track where leads come from and who they are distributed to. This is a great start, but if the sales manager isn’t following up to determine what works and what does not with these leads or doesn’t regularly check in with the salespeople who have received them, the money invested in the system is totally wasted.
Get Your Money’s Worth
Here are some thoughts about how to get the most out of a CRM system:
- Determine why you want the system. Some reasons could be to track leads, to measure effectiveness, to get a handle on the salespeople’s activities, to predict future sales, or to make it easier for the salespeople to do their job.
- Integrate your sales process into the system. This assumes you have a repeatable sales process that your salespeople are following (if not, let’s talk, because statistics indicate you can increase sales by 15% just by instituting a repeatable sales process).
- Clearly define expectations regarding activity levels. Have salespeople use the “math of success” or what some people refer to as “backward math” to determine what they need to do, then have them commit to these certain activities, and track them in the system.
- Have standardized pipeline buckets. These should articulate the ease and probability that a deal will close based on established milestones. If your salespeople follow a specific process and use a specific selling system to qualify their prospects then this step will be much easier. Tracking leads, appointments, proposals, and closed business will also be more insightful because you can more accurately predict future closing ratios.
- Set the expectation that activities or opportunities not logged in the system don’t exist. Establish consequences for offenders, such as they don’t get company-generated leads if they don’t put the needed data into the CRM system.
- Coach the salespeople on the many benefits of using the CRM system. Help them understand that by putting absolutely everything into the system that it will make their jobs easier and more efficient. They should know that they will make more money by using the system fully.
The Best System is Solid Sales Management
Any CRM system is worthless if the sales manager is not using the system to improve coaching and to hold people accountable to the right behaviors that produce the appropriate level of success. So, you CEOs and business owners out there, if you have a weak sales manager, a system will not make them better. It will make the good sales managers’ job easier but a weak manager won’t become a strong one using a CRM alone.