You can poll virtually any salesperson, especially one who has worked in B2B sales. If you ask them about CRM, you’ll get an almost unanimous response: “It sucks!”
Why is that?
A Walk In Their Shoes
Put yourself in a salesperson’s shoes. You have a traits and skills that many others don’t have. You can talk to someone you’ve never spoken to before, gain rapport, and interest them in a product or service. If they’re qualified and they have issues that your product or service will solve, you can eventually close that sale.
Like many sales reps, sales is in your blood. You really wouldn’t want to do anything else. You’re willing to withstand all the risk that comes with it. You’re entrepreneurial, you realize that if you don’t make sales, you don’t get paid. Fine with you, because you’ve experienced the upside to that rule: the more you sell, the more you make.
Now you come to work for a company where everything looks good. Commission structure is nice, the product is decent and easy to sell, the company has a solid market position, and you even like your sales manager. You start selling and it’s going well right from the outset. Looks like this will be a good gig
Then Wile E. Coyote Goes Splat!
As you are making sales, you’re required to record facts and figures about your sales into this thing called CRM. It’s a complicated software product that the company insists you enter data into, so that sales and company management can keep a firm eye on what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.
It takes a chunk of time out of each and every day or, worse, after hours — because your days tend to run long and it eats into the time you could be prospecting, setting up appointments, taking a look over the new leads you’ve just been forwarded, learning more about the product you’re selling, or heck, just chilling out.
Once in a while you blow off CRM because you just don’t have time or you’re just too tired—and boy do you hear about it. You learn quickly to just shut up and enter that data. You heard about that other rep that actually received a written reprimand for being too skimpy with CRM
And Adding Insult to Injury….
Entering all that data into the CRM doesn’t seem to serve its stated purpose: keeping management informed about your sales activities. You know this because despite all that data you faithfully input day in and day out, your sales manager still calls you, emails you, or pays you personal visits to chase up sales data and figures. On top of that, there’s a weekly sales meeting that takes several hours, during which you must once again present all this data.
So, how do you keep track of your own sales? You have your own trusty little spreadsheet — your personal “book of business” that works on your laptop, your tablet and even your smart phone. It’s pretty basic, and sometimes vital info gets lost, but there you can at least keep the most crucial facts about ongoing sales so you can refer back to them and get the information reliably and quickly. You use Outlook to schedule and remind you of appointments, and to get (hopefully) forwarded vital emails from prospects and customers. You really rely on these tools, so on top of all the data you must enter into CRM, you have to enter data into your own tools as well, so you’ll have some idea of what you’re doing from day to day.
Of course, your sales manager isn’t thrilled with this CRM solution, either. It’s up to your sales manager to constantly hound you, track down data, use up time that is better spent coaching and mentoring. Beyond all that, your sales manager knows all this enforcement doesn’t make for a happy team, and most likely isn’t real enthused about making everyone miserable.
What’s Wrong With This Picture?
Now why can’t you just use CRM for tracking and controlling your sales? Because even though you liberally enter data into the company’s CRM solution, getting it out again or utilizing it to track your own sales is next to impossible. CRM is anything but intuitive, and you can’t get at the data you really need in anything like a timely fashion. So this CRM thing is extremely one-sided—all for the company and less than nothing for you.
Looking at it that way, can you now see why salespeople think CRM sucks? Let’s be brutally honest: For a salesperson, what is there to like?
Stand Up for Eliminating the Suck Factor!
Insist on a CRM solution that is the antithesis of traditional CRMs. Those are outdated, a mistake from the start. They were designed to oppress and control. They are run by data entry police. Rebel and demand a product that makes you happy! A good CRM solution is an agent of happiness!
Demand a visual CRM. The language of visual is a universal language. Humans absorb visual information faster and more efficiently. In fact, a picture is worth 1000 spreadsheets! You should be able to see your entire pipeline at a glance and understand what you need to do next.
Additional bonus for visual information — it saves a slew of time! Time salespeople can use to sell, and sales managers can use to coach and mentor. S
Ask for a product that’s simple enough for everyone to use (and even enjoy using!) because it’s a true empowerment instead of a hindrance and an admin chore. Everyone should be able to look at the same data and find what matters to them. Search out a CRM that is a sales tool you’ll live in. Look for a product that other salespeople adopt with enthusiasm.
Imagine if all those extra hours spent inputting data were returned to your day for more productive use — the sales manager would be able to get a firm, rapid grasp on everything, so they aren’t harassing the sales rep for data they’ve already got. Those constant written and verbal updates — gone! — and sales meetings can look toward the future, instead of playing constant catch-up with the past.
Sales is obviously crucial to every business. No sales, no revenue. Both the sales manager and the sales rep are highly motivated to make revenue. The right sales CRM will make all the stakeholders happy.
For many years, CRM software has sucked. But now salespeople and their managers can go toward the light and stay away from that quicksand.
- The New and Ancient Art of Data Visualization
- CRM Proficiency: A Top-Qualified Skill for Sales Managers
- CRM Survey: Key Findings To Help You Choose Wisely