One of the biggest problems that have existed in the world of CRM projects since the day I started working with these technologies is the concept that Customer Relationship Management will “make” sales people better. I would argue that in a best case scenario a properly designed system will expose poor hiring choices. Don’t get me wrong….there is a lot of sales enablement but a CRM system will not change the DNA or the mentality of the person sitting between the chair and the keyboard.
Being stuck in the bowels of internal sales operations for hundreds of companies for the past couple of decades there are usually several “control” issues that will come up and need to be hashed through if a system ever has a shot at getting the proper buy in. If you are a sales manager then you probably already know that your CRM is only as good as your worst user. If you are team selling or have multiple departments dependent upon each other inthe system the problem is much worse.
Before we talk about the ways to address some of the every day issues with technology used by business development people I think we should document what I believe to be some truths about most (not all) sales structures and sales personnel:
Numbers, numbers, and numbers – No one ever got pulled into their boss’s office and was told that they had horrible sales numbers but was getting to stay because they were a mast of the CRM system. At the end of the day production is the scorecard and CRM vendors should keep this in mind during design, implementation,and for ongoing support.
CRM is Infrastructure – More than ever before what CRM provides is the ability to put structure and process around business development. It also enables the rest of the organization (marketing, research and development, operations) to have a “landing place” for critical data to be sourced as needed in order to land more revenue.
Art or Science – Being the son of someone who sold for 35 years I understand the statement that sales people are “born” and not made. I have also taken a number of people over the years and turned people that you would not call sales people into very productive business development people. At this point all I will say is that there are both types that are successful and as a sales manager there is a need to understand what people need to keep them successful.
It’s Business Not Personal – Sales is one of the hardest professions and the people that are successful quickly understand that most sales people are not.There is a lot of ego in sales organizations and there is a fair amount of distrust of management. No matter what you “intended” for your CRM implementation the word on the street from your sales team is probably a much different perception.
Count on Change – However you sell what you sell today it will be different six months from now, next year and the year after that. The keys to successful businesses are the way they adapt to the changing landscape in the marketplace. If you think about this in the way that you design and use your customer facing systems you will create a flexible environment that adapts to the need of the organization over time.
When you go back to the title of this post I hope that you can see why I don’t think a piece of technology can “make” people better. It won’t take away their laziness, insubordination, bending all of your rules, or make them double or triple their numbers. There is no piece of technology that provides a burning desire and the will to succeed.
The problem as CRM implementers is that many times someone pulls the trigger on a project thinking that CRM will somehow do some or all of these things. Bad news…people are people….and until they can invent a machine that other people like to buy from they are the best option we have. Understand that a system that eliminates tedious reporting and provides relevant data without sourcing other people in your organization will create more selling time.
And, at the end of the day, if you have good products and services that are pitched by sincere and ethical sales people, you will add more top line and bottom line results.