I’ve been thinking. Instead of “Customer Relationship Management,” we should rebrand CRM to mean, “Could Really Matter.”
Why? Oh come on. You know why. I’m not even going to bother tossing out the time-worn quotes about how many CRM implementations do (or don’t achieve) their desired results. Or the stats on low adoption levels by sales reps, or the vast inaccuracy of CRM data (Garbage In, Garbage Out). In many cases, CRM doesn’t really matter (to sales performance). But it could. It “Could Really Matter.”
This is the fault of CRM vendors, right?
The technology used?
No. The technology is just a tool; an enabler.
Are you sitting down?
Well, it’s you, providing you are a senior sales leader or sales support leader (sales strategy, sales operations, sales enablement, CRM manager, etc.) who is responsible for CRM implementation at your company.
If your CRM doesn’t currently matter, it’s time for a “Could Really Matter” overhaul. It’s time to implement a DRM instead – a system that “Does Really Matter.”
Can It Be Done?
Sorry for the tough love, but it’s needed. In almost every company in which I’ve worked or consulted, there have been a host of preventable challenges that got in the way of maximizing the system investment to produce actionable data and improve sales results.
Allow me to add insult to injury. Not only are these challenges preventable, it’s not that difficult to avoid them. Okay, in fairness, I’m not saying it’s “easy,” but this is easier to do it right upfront than suffer through months or years of “not really matter” system issues. Like most other things, it requires some strategic, critical thinking, purposeful decision-making, great communication, disciplined execution, and sound change leadership.
But what if you’ve implemented already and are struggling to get value or gain adoption? Is there hope for raising the bar? Yes, it can be done.
Make your CRM Software a “Does Really Matter” Buying Support System
The old saying, “People, Process, Technology” contains deep truth. There are elements of each of these that matter, plus a few other things. Ask yourself:
- Why are you implementing a CRM (or why did you)?
- Who are the stakeholders (sales reps, sales managers, organization leaders, other functions)
- What will each do with the system (inputs, activities or efficiency metrics)
- What are the desired outcomes of those actions (outputs or effectiveness metrics)
- What is the benefit for each?
If you can’t answer these basic questions – clearly and with alignment – you aren’t ready to move forward (or fix your current problems).
Have you ever heard the saying, “Measure twice, cut once?” It applies here. Frankly, I think it’s best to do this before you engage with a vendor, so you can gauge which system is the best choice. If you’ve already implemented, you need to revisit these questions.
Avoid focusing on the technology and what the system “can” do. Instead, start with well-defined strategy and intended outcomes. Focus on the process and methodology that you want to enable, to better serve your clients and your reps’ capability to serve them, to improve sales force performance.
- How will your CRM software support your customers and how they buy?
- How will it enable and empower sales reps to navigate the buyer process and align their sales efforts to win more deals?
- How will sales managers get the data they need to analyze conversations, trends, process and methodology compliance… which can be used to determine coaching opportunities that will improve performance?
“Cease the Silly” by engaging your frontline sales employees who will actually do the work and use the system, to ensure there is a WIIFM (what’s in it for me) for your reps, and improve buy‑in.
DRM = Prepare, Clean, Easy, Matters, Policies, Change
In addition to answering the above questions, you should (preferably) know a few other key things before you start to implement or re-engineer:
- How do your buyer’s buy? What is their journey and buying process?
- How does your sales process align to the buying process?
- What are your best-practice sales methodologies which most-effectively shepherd opportunities from stage to stage in the buying/selling process?
- How do you know when an opportunity should or has moved from one stage to the next?
- How are your sales methodologies and activities measured?
Make It Clean
Scrub the data at the beginning or put efforts in place to clean it up. Because systems are implemented without a sense of the above-mentioned strategy, or without the principles outlined here, organizations often end up with a data quality issue. You’re probably familiar with the old phrase, “Garbage In, Garbage Out.”
Make It Easy
The problem with many CRM systems (or implementations) is that they are punishing to use. If you want reps to use it, you must keep it simple (per Einstein, think: “as simple as possible but no simpler”).
I believe in customization for all the obvious reasons, but we tend to get crazed about customization. Customize only to align with your sales process and sales methodology (which should be as streamlined as possible before beginning). Use the technology to enable your sales reps to implement the best practice methodology in your company that is known to shepherd opportunities through the sales process with as much velocity as possible. (If you don’t know this when you start, plan to use your CRM to analyze this and shape your usage over time, based on what you learn). The idea here is to enable workflow with your sales process and methodology, which should be aligned with how your buyers buy.
Make it Matter
How many reports are you producing from your CRM today? How many of those actually help you improve sales results or better serve your customers? Think about that. You should report and analyze CRM data to predict (lead indicators) or enable sales (empower data analysis for better coaching) and better serve customers (identify real opportunities, ensure stage milestones are met, and better manage opportunities where you have the great chance of winning deals and serving your customers well.
I’ll go back again to using the data to empower coaching. Too often, manager and reps are punished by CRM practices and outputs. It’s true that reps may need to take a leap of faith and won’t always see benefits until they use the system well (a real paradox of CRM). This can be overcome only by explanation, showing reps case studies or ways that the data will be used to benefit them. And then, you need to stick to your word.
Manage Your Policies
Policies should exist only to ensure effective usage, in line with the strategies, and in support of these principles discussed above. If a policy doesn’t assist in achieving strategic objectives, keeping it clean, making it easy, or making it matter, why are you doing it? (The only other worthy reasons of a policy, in my opinion, are to prevent legal, compliance or ethics issues.)
Lead the Change
Many system, technology, training, and business initiatives in general fail or fail to achieve desired outcomes, because of poor execution and a lack of sound change management and leadership. Books have been written about this and I’ve blogged about it before. See:
- Ensure Sales Training Success with Change Leadership and Management – Part 1
- Ensure Sales Training Success with Change Leadership and Management—Part 2
In my opinion, Franklin Covey’s 4 Disciplines of Execution™ and Richardson’s Change Management and Change Leadership framework are two excellent resources to help with effective execution and change management / change leadership. You need to get this right, or your DRM initiative will remain a “Could Really Matter.”
A DRM is Born
I’m sure that makes it sound easier than it is. It is possible, though, and organizations have done it. If 70% of change and system efforts fail to produce the intended results, that still means that 30% are successful. Why not do what the 30% do, instead of the 70%?
If you do, you might just be the proud new owner of a bouncing baby DRM – CRM software that “Does Really Matter.”
I’d enjoy hearing about your successes and struggles, and I’m sure the fine and fun people of Pipeliner CRM would be happy to help, when it seems right for you.
As always, thanks for reading, be safe out there, and by all means, let’s continue to work together to elevate our sales profession. -Mike