Thursday, June 02, 2011

 

Eight barriers to sales CRM success

For a growing or mature sales organization, one of the single most important tools to efficiently scale and sustain sales growth is an effective customer relationship management (CRM) system. And yet, most sales organizations wrestle with the implementation, operation and effectiveness of that system on a regular basis.

Don't blame the software. In most cases, internal factors are directly driving that ineffectiveness. Below are eight common barriers to sales CRM success we see, and how you can begin to overcome them.

1. Letting the CRM system define your sales process
Most systems come pre-set with default lead and opportunity stages, default fields for accounts and contacts, even default reports and dashboards. This is not your sales process. The sales process that works best for your customers should be determined in advance, and your CRM should be modified to accommodate it.

2. No consistent definitions
What's a qualified lead? What criteria are required to move a lead to an opportunity? And does everyone across the organization (including and beyond the sales team) understand that? Your data will only be as good as it is consistent, so ensure everyone knows how you expect to define and move accounts, prospects and customers through the pipeline.

3. Not enforcing consistent & accurate usage
It's one thing to have definitions, it's another to ensure they're being used actively. If a call is made, if a campaign is executed, and it's not reflected in your data, how can you use the system to tell what's working? How can you manage next steps and behavior? I've worked in sales organizations that have a simple rule for this: If it isn't in the CRM system, it didn't happen.

4. Not enforcing consistent & accurate reporting
I see it all the time, different sales groups or departments pulling the same data via multiple different reports. And because they all have different filters, different formats, and different ideas of what they're looking at, each report has a slightly different story. Inconsistent reporting (even if it's an innocent but small difference in a filter) will call into question the integrity of your entire process and pipeline. Create one, consistent set of reporting so everyone is on the same page.

5. Letting your data get and stay dirty
It's bad enough when you have bad data. Companies entered five different times. Leads that don't get de-dupped. But if you don't get on top of that problem right away, it's only going to get worse and more expensive to fix down the road. Put systems in place (including software add-ons and manual processes) to regularly clean your data - both on the way in as well as periodically for what's already there.

6. Reporting on too much at the wrong levels of the business
We often overthink our reporting. We include too much, show too much data to help justify the work we're doing. Lots of data may be appropriate at the front lines, to measure and optimize tactical campaigns. But your executive team doesn't need to see open rates for your email campaigns. Keep them focused on the "money" metrics, those that best reflect the output of your work. If that output isn't going as planned, you can then pull a second report (which you watch daily already) to identify what's wrong.

7. Failing to identify causality
Clean data, consistent reports and custom lead/opportunity stages aren't going to help you if you can't take action on what you're seeing. If something's wrong with your output, with your pipeline, your CRM system should be able to help you identify what's wrong. If the data isn't there, or you aren't using the data to get to the root of the problem, take time to identify explicitly what's missing and create a process (both right now and moving forward) that will give you that insight.

8. Sales & marketing don't use it consistently
By consistently, I mean both on a regular basis and in the same way. Too may B2B marketing teams have never been in their company's CRM system. They don't see the sales reports, don't know what's working once the lead gets passed to sales. Marketing leadership should be using CRM (at minimum using the reporting) on a daily basis. And both teams need to have the same rules, definitions and reports to ensure they're on the same page.

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