This is an excerpt from my second book, Managing the Sales Process, available on Amazon.com. You can find a series of these excerpts in a dedicated blog category to get a broad overview, post-by-post, of the book (they are listed in reverse order in the category, so start with the oldest).

From Chapter 3 – Doing the Right Things: Is it the right sales process (Measured without a burden to sales))

Managers tend to over-complicate the idea of CRM’s. They start with the perspective that they need all kinds of sophisticated reports. Reports can be useful, but they only will be as good as the inputs that fuel them. The fuel in this case is the salespeople doing their jobs and tracking progress in the CRM.

From the sales perspective, the CRM can be a good tool if it helps them to do what they need to be doing anyway. If the CRM is designed to help salespeople get through the steps of a sales process they have bought into, and if it supports the efficient management of their tasks, then it is a good system.

So what makes a CRM a good sales tool? Let’s look at what the salesperson needs to do to get his or her job done each day.

At the most basic level, a salesperson has a group of people who might constitute future business. He or she needs a system in which the contact information for these people can be stored and where the tasks that need to be done for each contact can be logged on a calendar (calls, meetings, quotes, etc.). The salesperson should be able to access these tasks either by calendar or contact to review the calendar at any point to see what needs to be done or to view the record of a particular contact to see what activities are coming up. It should also have a place for notes from each conversation.

Extra bonuses include tying it to the company e-mail system, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system, or proposal management system. Maybe there is a pipeline report that salespeople can see to help them manage their own pipelines. These are all nice to have but are not essential.

It IS necessary that when salespeople finish an action associated with a contact in their database, they can mark the activity complete, make a note if they have to, change a status if they need to, and schedule a future event.

From this perspective, the CRM is a tool that helps salespeople do their jobs better and makes the completion of their job easier than without the CRM. If this is not the case, it won’t be used consistently; if it is not used consistently it has no value. You could enforce use, but if you do and it doesn’t support the salesperson’s job, you will instill both inefficiency and resentment. Neither is uncommon in a sales organization, but neither is particularly useful or pleasant. It is much better to work cooperatively and constructively with your team, don’t you think?

When salespeople use the system consistently, and the statuses and future events are pre-populated from pulldown menus, management has everything needed to create the most essential sales management reports.

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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