The Importance of Choosing the Right CRM
Trivia Question: Which ubiquitous business tool do half of US businesses use as the world’s most expensive digital paperweight while the other half utilize it as a vital growth-building sales tool?
Give up? CRM software.
Indeed, about half of America’s businesses either do not know or care how to use their expensive CRM systems. The reasons for that are far-reaching, but boil down to a straightforward question:
Is CRM driving your sales process, or is your sales process driving CRM?
It should be the latter—and if it isn’t, someone has some explaining to do. CRM should be seamlessly integrated and improve your sales process. But what if your CRM is driving the sales process? You need to define your process, which means finding a CRM to align with the process or redesign how you are using your CRM.
Chicken and egg conundrum
In writing this article, I wanted to avoid going into great detail about what Executive Management might be doing wrong. Instead, I wanted to talk about how to prevent this issue from the start. First, you must acknowledge that there is a problem. A sloppy sales process, coupled with a complicated and hated CRM, will lose your company money.
The main problem is counterintuitive in and of itself; smaller companies implement a CRM because they are following the lead of their larger capitalist counterparts—and conventional business wisdom, which says that a CRM is a necessary sales tool for those who want to succeed.
This thinking, while valid, is flawed from a planning and implementation perspective. Many companies see CRM as a magic bullet that will shoot sales through the hole in the roof created by CRM.
Executive management often looks at it from a chicken and egg scenario: “I’ll get CRM, then have my sales president build a process around it.” But that is the wrong end of the chicken/egg paradigm—and that’s what makes it a losing investment for half of this country’s businesses.
This thinking is fatally flawed. Companies go and buy a CRM without having a solid sales foundation in place, which defeats the purpose of having a CRM. A successful CRM is nearly invisible; it works seamlessly in the background and provides an intuitive experience.
The responsibility of researching and purchasing a CRM falls on the Sales President and CEO; neither individual will ever use it. Causing a severe disconnect with the frontline sales staff that will be up to their necks in CRM daily. It is this stakeholder group that must first be recognized and then brought in to help with the design or choice of the CRM platform.
CRM should be a support tool. If I am a sales rep, I should feel like the CRM is a tool that is aiding me; it should not be a chore. Salespeople need to be involved from the beginning when it comes to design, sales requirements implementation, and feedback.
Your end-users—in this case, the sales rank and file—must have a deep and influential voice when it comes to feedback and input once the system is implemented (and throughout the process of doing so). If they do not, you will have to fight an uphill battle—and a silent one, because your end-users will not use the system, and since they do not have a voice, you will never even know that they are unhappy.
A camper on a racetrack
On paper, the CRM issue seems like a bit of a silly problem that our best and brightest business leaders should be able to navigate quite easily. However, CRM is viewed almost as a commodity; you have to have one. In reality, it is a lot like buying a car. If you do not research what you need and do not need, you will end up with air conditioning in the Arctic Circle and an RV on a racetrack.
Like buying a car, you need to define your CRM requirements before going out and buying one—and it is not all that complicated. It shows that CEOs and Sales Presidents do not understand the benefits of the CRM itself, and how customizable and wide-ranging the options are.
When you are considering purchasing a CRM, it is critical to define your sales process so that you do not end up paying for functionality you do not need. From a Change Management perspective, the less complex the CRM is to use, the more likely it is that the sales team will use it. This is one thing that People Stretch can do; we bring in a new set of eyes to look at things from 30,000 feet and put together a beginning to end Change Management plan.
Ultimately, a CRM should help you build more business, improve data analytics, reporting, nurturing existing customer relationships, seamlessly roll out an email campaign, identifying opportunities for up-selling or cross-selling and feed into the marketing loop. Among many other 5-star benefits.
If you first define your needs and develop a robust sales process, you will be on the right track to buying and rolling out a CRM to help your business reach its sales goals.