Why is the subject of CRM so contentious?

CRM is one of those subjects that always brings out the fighting spirit in salespeople, sales managers and certainly those who sell CRM systems!

But why?

Most of those who argue in favor of CRM’s talk about how the data from CRM’s helps to track and manage salespeople and the sales organization.

That seems important.

Most of those who argue against CRM’s seem to focus on the idea that entering data into the CRM is an extra task – administrative busy work piled onto an already busy day.

That seems like a pretty legitimate complaint.

The problem comes to a head because salespeople don’t get to decide if their company should use a CRM, managers do. Then the requirement to use the CRM is imposed on the salespeople – usually not a joyful event.

So who is right?

Are managers right that the data is needed, or are salespeople right that it is an extra administrative burden.

In too many cases, both.

So what’s missing?

Let me answer that indirectly to illustrate the salient point here:

Most truly effective people use some kind of a system to keep themselves organized. Certainly successful and busy salespeople do. It is impossible to believe that a successful salesperson can remember every customer, task, obligation, proposal status, etc., etc., etc.

When you look at the basic functions of most CRM systems, they seem like great tools for managing those tasks and obligations.

Where the whole endeavor falls apart is when the input requirements and task management features of the CRM and the actual tasks that are required for a salesperson to get through their day and their pipeline are not aligned.

There are two logical solutions, neither of which seems to be pursued often enough (which leads to the aforementioned contentiousness around the subject).

Sales management would be much more successful in getting the information it needs if the CRM was built as a tool to actually help the salespeople manage the actual tasks that they need to complete as a part of their normal sales work.

In other words, if the real world sales process of the salespeople in a given company is clearly understood before the CRM is selected, customized and deployed, then the CRM can be designed to capture the actual tasks and opportunities that the salespeople actually manage as a part of their day. This will logically lead to the right information that sales management needs to do their jobs – managing the aggregate work of the salespeople.

When the CRM reflects that work, salespeople are more likely to use it because it is a tool that actually reflects their work, and managers will benefit because they can use the CRM as a window into that work.

But far too often, that doesn’t happen.

So if the sales managers don’t deploy the CRM well, what can salespeople do if their company has imposed a dysfunctional CRM system on them – one that doesn’t reflect their work?

In many cases, experienced salespeople fall into habits and patterns in the way they sell. This is not necessarily bad, since those habits and patterns are often quite effective, and lead to great results.

However, when those habits and patterns are incompatible with the CRM, then the daily work of the salespeople becomes doing the job the way have always done it, and in addition entering stuff into the CRM.

I have found in my time in sales that experienced and novice salespeople alike can benefit from re-evaluating their sales activities from a macro level, using a logical framework such as the one I prescribe in my books and blogs.

When our experienced salesperson maps their actual sales habits against a macro level sales process framework, quite often the habits and patterns that they have always done can be seen in a more organized fashion.

This allows them to be more conscious about how to approach their sales work, and also quite often allows them to see the parallels between the way they always did their work and some of the features of the CRM that has been imposed on them.

Sales processes are not that different at the macro level. If a CRM system has been imposed on you, then shame on your managers. But if you need to use the tool, why not make the effort to leverage how it can help you do your work? The alternative is using it anyways, but just as irrelevant data entry and extra busy work.

By taking the time to understand how to use the tool you need to use anyways, you might just make it work for you, and might just make your work more effective along the way.

Sounds like a case of turning lemons into lemonade to me…..

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Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)

So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.

If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:

The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.

Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.

The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.

If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.

Here’s to your success!

-David