We all know that CRM is a necessity in today's sales environment. This isn't a post telling you to go back to spreadsheets (NEVER!) or dial back to some other type of antiquated cave drawing technology to manage your sales process.
So obviously, we've all staked our collective tents under the banner of CRM. That's because CRM's promise is as simple as it is alluring - Learn how and why your customers buy and how you can use that knowledge to maximize the lifetime value of each customer.
OOoohh. I'm getting all shivery just thinking about it.
Now here in the real world (the world that exists outside of CRM whitepapers) the complex sales process we work in has a lot of moving parts. And to use the data in the CRM to create a repeatable process that effectively and quickly transforms a prospect or lead into a paying client is the holy grail of sales team management.
So in search of that grail, we in sales management embark on our own version of the Crusades - we call this "entering sales activities" and we create all types of meetings and motivations to get that data in the CRM. Hook and Crook. Carrot and Stick. Reward and Threat. Begging and Pleading. Yelling and Crying. Whatever we need to do.
The whole point is to get the sales team to enter the data. Right?
Now let's think about this...to get that data in, our sales teams need to sit down at a computer (like you are now) and open an app or a website and use a keyboard to enter data into fields and screens...data they've received in email, most likely, and data they've already acted upon (set a meeting, called a client, etc..)
What does that process look like? And in the real-world - not the flashy, slick demos your CRM salesperson showed someone in sales ops a few years back....
The Reality: Mr. Beans emails your rep and the email says "Let's do a demo with our Widget Department. Frank Jones in the manager and he's got 100 users." So I don't know about you, but I want my rep to JUMP and contact Mr. Beans and Frank and get that set up. So if the rep is halfway decent, he or she does just that - mostly likely via email. Having sent that email, the rep now goes on to the next email in their inbox. And the next. And the next. A little later, Beans and Frank email the rep back and this goes on for a couple of hours and eventually by the end of the day they have a date/time setup for the demo. Yippie it's 5 o'clock and time for happy hour!
Oooops! Wait, our rep totally forgot to update their activities to the CRM??? Oh noes!!!! So at the end of the day - before cocktails or picking up the kids from school - the rep dials up the old CRM webpage and navigates to Mr. Bean's company. They create a new opportunity and having the memory of an elephant they accurately document and detail the entire back and forth with Beans and Frank, making sure to document the demo, the 100 user Opportunity with updated close date, next steps and potential objections. They upload all the emails from Beans and Frank to the CRM. They also make sure to add Frank Jones as a new contact in the CRM with phone, email address and title. All of this happens with zero data entry mistakes because your sales rep is a unicorn and has magic powers.
Oh and remember all those OTHER emails your rep was going through while waiting for Frank and Beans to get back the them? Well those emails had a bunch of actionable info in them that needed to be documented in the CRM as well, so the rep also updated all THOSE accounts and opportunities and contacts with the data mined of out those emails. Why? Well because you told them to and like all sales reps, they blindly listen to your direction and do everything you ask them to do.
And that's just email. All the other work your rep did that day...customer meetings, phone calls, virtual meetings...all that got into the the CRM too because life always works out the way we want it to.
Isn't that the way if works?
Salespeople today spend 80% of their time in email. Most customer interaction comes from email. Prospecting happens in email. Deals are proposed and closed in EMAIL.
So why are we constantly expecting our reps to eagerly go to ANOTHER APPLICATION or WEBSITE to document the sales process that's going on in email?????
And if "because I said so" doesn't work on a five year old, it's not gonna work on a 45 year old, million dollar quota, President's Club winning sales rep.
And let's be clear, no sales manager has ever said "Hey, it looks like you're putting TOO MUCH data in the CRM...can you cut back a bit please?" That's because whatever the amount of data is going into the CRM, sales ops and sales leadership wants more, more, MORE!!!!! So even if our reps miraculously enter all the required data in today, by tomorrow there will be more fields, screens and objects to update.
So what's the end result? The data in the CRM - the thing that promised to be the engine of sales process - is flawed, incomplete or just bogus. So all those fancy pipeline dashboards and multi-color forecast graphs you look at every day? Like a beautiful cake made of particle board and paint, nice to look at but useless for sustenance.
Here's the rub - none of what I talked about above is How Your CRM is Killing You.
What's killing you is much more insidious, more heartbreaking than what I've documented above.
What's really killing you?
You already know all of this.
63% of all CRM initiatives fail. And if you're like me, after a lifetime in sales, I feel like I've worked on every single one of those failed CRM initiatives. If I had a nickle for every management meeting I've been in where "CRM activity management" was mentioned, I wouldn't need my 401k.
And in every single one of those meetings, without fail, we concentrated on "bringing the rep to the CRM." Incentives, threats, training, etc... The entire focus was always how to get the REP to the CRM.
And we failed every time.
Not once did we focus on how we could "bring the CRM to the rep" - integrating the CRM with the sale process where and as it actually exists.
Would that work? Is that the answer? Could it be that simple?