by Vantage Point

CRM - Sales Management

Part 1 of a 4-part series
Why do we invest in CRM?

It’s an interesting question, and when I ask it to sales leaders and sales ops executives, I tend to hear back answers that focus on “making it easier for our reps to sell” or “improving rep productivity.”

But the REAL reason we invest in CRM is actually quite different.

In fact, do me a favor. Close your eyes for a moment (well, at least pretend that you are closing your eyes as you continue to read…) and imagine that you’ve rolled out your CRM successfully to the field.

And now – with this CRM system, you now have:

  • complete visibility of front-line sales rep activities
  • better and more predictive data

And with this information, you can:

  • make more timely decisions
  • shift resources around in advance of market trends, and
  • accurately anticipate revenue flow into your business.

I mean, this is nirvana, right? All provided to us by our CRM system!

Now, open your eyes. And take a look at the bullet points above. If we’re honest with ourselves for a moment, the bullet points above have nothing to do with making our reps’ lives easier.

Instead, the reason we are investing in CRM is simple – WE WANT MORE CONTROL! The promise that CRM offers us as sales leaders and sales ops executives is to give us better control of our sales organization.

But now we need to face reality – because for companies that have experienced failed CRM rollouts, they let this euphoria get in the way of understanding – and focusing on – one critical fact.

And that is – we can only achieve the benefits we so desperately want from CRM if (and only if) our sellers enter and update the right information into the system.

And that is where things break down – because the reality is that the front line views CRM very very differently than we do. Why? Because sales people see CRM as yet another way for their manager (and their manager’s manager, and so on) to inspect them. And there is a certain (and real in some companies) fear that they will be punished with the information they enter into CRM.

This is the great divide between leadership and the field. We see the PROMISE that CRM can provide; while our sales people focus on the PERILS. We want as much information as we can get to make better decisions, while our sales people will enter the minimal amount; just enough to be compliant and stay out of trouble (and to be paid for deals they close).

So how do we solve for this? How can we align our interests to use CRM to have better visibility with our sellers’ interests to make their number? How can we bridge this great divide between leadership and the field?

This will be the topic of my next article, which will discuss how to align CRM to enable managers and reps to identify and focus on high impact activities.

For now though, a few quick questions:

  • How has this divide affected your CRM rollout?
  • How have you managed this misalignment?
  • Are you struggling to get the “right” information into CRM?