I was looking back through old notes & scraps of ideas, when I came across some musings in support of an interview a few years back -

I had been approached by Peri Shawn, to speak about the leveraging a company's CRM system in supporting of Sales Coaching programs.  The book, Sell More with Sales Coaching, is available with the final chapter containing interviews with myself as well as other CRM industry representatives.  It's a good read, very visual in language, with checklists & program ideas that can be put to work in almost any business - I'd encourage you to take a look at it.  

Like most interviews, the end result was edited down to fit the publication but, having found my "interview musings", I thought I'd share the questions & answers Peri & I talked through.  I trust there are learnings within that will be valuable.

Peri Shawn: How can company leaders set up their CRM so their sales teams sell more?


David Beard: It's important to understand & align the setup of a CRM initiative to the measures of success for company performance.  By way of example, these could be revenue, existing account growth, new account development, etc. Then, putting those measures, or METRICS, "front & centre" so that users & the company alike can review performance.  I believe, too, that the metrics for monitoring  (perhaps through dashboards, reports, etc.) are understood & shared across all relevant teams so performance is transparent to all.  That introduces an element of competitiveness but, more importantly, engagement by the workforce with the CRM system - right from data capture to reporting.

Peri Shawn: What are the key elements for successful CRM set up?

David Beard: For me, establishing links to a business' strategy to CRM program design demonstrates the business' commitment to the CRM program.  Early socialisation of the BENEFITS by groups of users -- both in design & rollout stages + workable data from day 1 (nothing ruins a new system like bad data) can help drive early understanding & acceptance.  Also, having user training that parallels the user testing of early system prototypes is a good idea, so users understand the basics and can see the evolution of the CRM system ahead of "official go live".  It's also important, too, to set realistic expectations of "what is now" and "what is later" - showing the evolving use & staged business returns of CRM. I still see companies & employees who expect "everything on day 1"  which is hard to do as a project AND doesn't reflect the true, EVOLVING, nature of good CRM. Like business strategy, a CRM program is never really finished

 

Peri Shawn: What can a company leader do to make it easier for or more likely that salespeople will use the CRM “properly”?

David Beard: One thing I have seen done with great effect is to pick the "ugly things" (often internal processes) in a company that nobody likes doing or where they are too labourious. Deconstructing, checking for validity and then working to simplify & take away the pain can offer a great boost for a company. Paying attention to what data matters also helps - moving critical lookups (e.g. what are my "must do" tasks today, who must I call today, etc.) or data feeds (e.g. current sales figures, last purchase price, etc.) help stop the lost hours & impatience that builds in trying to do the "simple stuff".  Making these part of the early socialisation of the benefits for users - linked to simple, MEASURABLE benefits that speak not only to CUSTOMERS but also to INTERNAL PROCESS simplification will help sales team members see the value.

 

Peri Shawn: What can companies do to set up a CRM so salespeople improve the quality of their sales interactions?

David Beard: INTEGRATE much more of the information that you SHOULD know about a customer into one place. For example: Who else in the company has spoken to the customer & about what recently? What (e)Marketing has the customer received lately?  Have we been talking to them about a service issue? What recent products have they purchased & taken delivery of? What about their competitors & their industry trends?  You need to make it easy to response to any question, ADDING VALUE to the interaction and draw in relevant information from anywhere.

 

Peri Shawn:  How has technology changed the way people buy?

David Beard: Due to the web & ease of research, most buyers know what their options are, WHERE ELSE they can source them and the likely quality (products & services), before they pick up the phone. Companies, if not already aware of this, need to move from salespeople who call prospects regular to inquire on current needs to the salespeople who educate their prospects with relevant content. In support, systems need to be in place to be able to CONDUCT business smoothly (info at their fingertips), be able to make decisions SWIFTLY and deliver on the promises made around supply, price & delivery.   For Sales Managers, this means a coaching mentality that gives more latitude to people OWNING a customer relationship and all the steps (metrics of performance measurement, etc.) that this entails.  For many companies, this breaks traditional (internal silos) of "marketing, sales & service" and is why a company-wide CRM system is so critical to success.