One of the biggest challenges users have with their CRM systems is the fact that the systems, while powerful, are rarely easy enough to use. While CRM is used in a variety of industries, for the sake of this post we’ll refer to sales professionals, with the following users being considered:
- Inside/outside sales professionals. On the ground, directly connecting with customers. These could be support staff, marketing professionals, etc..
- Sales manager (focused on one sales team, typically a line level manager)
- Sales executive (responsible for several sales teams)
- IT. The internal technology team focused on deploying and maintaining the CRM.
- Customers (existing and potential).
Inside/Outside Sales Professionals
These people are in direct contact with your customers, and potential customers on a daily basis. While we often focus CRM deployments on how to gather rich data for analytics we must balance that focus on easy, low-friction, entry. Remember that you’re CRM must fit into how your team works, not how you want them to work. While many disagree (at least in their actions if not their words) you will only find success if you deploy the solution to match this criteria.
- It is often difficult to change sales people’s habits and get them into the CRM on a regular basis. These people are either living in Outlook, on the phones, or running from customer to customer. Your CRM must provide methods for lead entry from:
- Their mail client (Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes, Google Mail, etc..). Provide easy methods to shift information that lives in e-mail directly into the CRM without duplicate entry.
- Mobile Access. You cannot avoid this interface. Obvious, yes, but there are still too many organizations that err on the side of security restrictions instead of helping their sales team be successful. Provide a CRM interface that enables very simple data entry (limited # of fields).
- Look at speech to text solutions. Let your mobile workforce call a single phone number, press a couple of options on an IVR, and record the message they want entered into the CRM.
- Model your process but simplify it over the older, paper-driven, processes. I see too many organizations that want to simply mirror their processes in their CRM. As you automate, seek to simplify where possible.
- Help the sales person do their job better, do not make it just about data entry.
- Use location awareness to help the sales person efficiently map out their sales calls.
- Provide rich relationship information so that the sales person can get introductions, referrals, etc.., through friends of friends.
- Integrate social information. Tap into the dynamic nature of social media to identify potential customers and automatically feed these leads to your sales team. Do not force them to spend hours on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, give them the data they need now.
These people are responsible for hitting their own quota and for managing and mentoring a team. Oftentimes they are in this mixed job role, it is a very challenging role. In addition to the changes above, help them out:
- Provide clear reports on their strongest and weakest performers. Revenue generated is key, obviously, but make sure the sales manager can measure the other key data points (leads generated, overall sales activity, etc..).
- Provide real forecasting tools that enable them to provide numbers to the executive team, numbers that they can stand behind.
- Identify at risk deals (or customers) by analyzing a combination of CRM-documented behaviors (lack of payment, # of support tickets) combined with social data (buzz about the company’s financial stability, for example).
- Identify potential growth areas, other potential customers to reach out to, etc.. For example, show me all businesses within 30 miles of Boston that have revenue in excess of $10 million that sell high definition TVs. Give me answers even when I do not know the questions.
You want to see a stressed sales executive? Give them a sales target and then do not provide them visibility into the sales pipeline. While this can be fun to watch it is never a winning strategy for the company. Still, it happens. The sales executive needs the data the sales manager needs, but at an even higher level. In addition, they need tools that can help them:
- Understand the levers they have at their disposal in terms of the incentives sales people earn. If I change the incentive program, what is the outcome. Ideally, help me model the results so I can make intelligent decisions before I make any changes.
- You should not have to be a master of the dark arts to install the CRM. Unfortunately, most on-premise solutions require a Master’s Degree in Statistical Analysis just to run the installer.
- Data quality management should be simple. Identify potential data quality issues, don’t force the company to invest in hiring dozens of analyst to keep your system running.
Customers….. Why is it that CRM systems seem to ignore the customer?
- Provide value to the customer. If this is a support CRM system, make it easy to get answers. If it is a sales system, make it easy for them to get answers. Sounds simple.
What am I missing here? Do you disagree with anything you’ve read?