It never ceases to amaze me how many sales people dislike using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. I do feel your pain, because I’ve used, installed, and modified many CRM systems over the years. Many of those CRM tools are quite good, though some are not. Here are the most common complaints I hear:
- Entering a lot of data is time consuming
- Management wants constant updates, but they don’t even use the system
- The system is overly complex and not user friendly
- We have had very little training on the system
- The system wasn’t well thought out when initially setup
Certainly, there are other legitimate issues as well. But, CRM systems are here to stay and, if you’re in sales, they are now part of your job. But I’m a firm believer that they don’t have to be a burden or time consuming. Actually, they can be a huge benefit to your productivity and sales success. What are some of the fundamental reasons why organizations need a productive CRM system?
Why Organizations Must Have a CRM System
- Plain and simple: data is powerful. Your sales data (accounts, contacts, opportunities, forecasts, etc.) are as important as the financial data in your accounting system. Really. Sales is the lifeblood of the company. Imagine one of your company accountants refusing to utilize the financial system because it was “time consuming” or “not-friendly.” “I’ll just give you a verbal update on how the financials are going, but don’t make me use the system,” he says. Would you allow this behavior if you were running the company?
- A single source of truth. All of the sales data for the company should be in one central database. Data should never be in personal databases or spreadsheets. Of course the centralization of data will help greatly with reporting, visibility and reliability.
- I write often about knowing your customer and the customer journey, which are vital to growing a customer-focused business. Without the data you maintain in systems like your CRM, you are missing an opportunity to add real-life interactions to your buyer profiles and journey maps.
The main person needing visibility into sales activity is you, the sales person! If you’re as busy as I think you are, you can’t possibly remember all the hundreds of details you deal with in a normal week. An efficient method of capturing your sales activities is vital for sales success as you advance each deal through the pipeline. And yes, your management needs visibility also for planning, coaching and accountability purposes.For sales management, let me challenge you to focus on using the data for coaching purposes and creating success for your team. Evaluate trends to understand each individual and their needs. Search for insights that will allow you to add value to their sales pursuits.
- If your CRM is configured correctly, planning your week should be very straightforward. Your calls, tasks and appointments should be right on your home page. Need more detail on an active opportunity? The activity history is there in the opportunity record with great notes and suggested next steps in the sales cycle. Are you literally trying to remember what happened in your last interaction with your prospect without notes? You’re good, but probably not that good (at least I’m not)!
- Also, your dashboards and reports should show you exactly where you are for the week, month and quarter. There are numerous important metrics you can track easily and quickly with dashboards that are setup correctly.
- Finally, there are many easy to use features that will help keep you organized. Think about your sales process and where you need help and there is probably a feature that will benefit you.
There are many ways that CRM systems can help increase your sales and marketing productivity. Here are just a few examples:
- Sales status updates – the overwhelming number one issue we hear from sales people and sales managers is the request for current updates on opportunities. We suggest that expectations for the timely update of data by sales people are well defined and clearly communicated. Then, we ask that sales managers first go to the CRM system for their update to eliminate emails and phone calls to their teams.
- Many CRM systems also have the ability to interface with popular email programs, such as MS Outlook. These plug-in apps allow for a very efficient interface between your CRM and your email, calendar and tasks. For example, emails sent or received can automatically be saved under the contact record in your CRM, so there is no duplication of data or extra data entry. And, you have a complete, easy to find record of all emails with your contacts.
- Another great example is the ability for CRM systems to generate complex quotes and proposals. If you have a product assembly with many variable combinations, many CRM systems can be configured to support your quoting process, bringing you untold productivity and eliminating errors.
- Visibility to customer service and other open issues is vital for your sales team. Utilizing the case management function of your CRM system can provide real-time updates for those dealing with the account which increases communication and sales credibility with the customer.
And remember, CRM systems are a living entity which must adapt to the on-going needs of the business. By continually adapting your system to your users’ and customers’ needs, you can absolutely realize the benefits mentioned.