by Vantage Point

CRM - Sales Management

This is part 2 of a 4-part series)
In my last article, I explained a key reason for CRM underperformance, which is the difference between how sales leaders view CRM compared with how salespeople view CRM. In this article, we solve this problem by aligning business results (that sales leadership is focused on) with high impact sales activities (that our reps should focus on), and then embedding this alignment into your CRM system.



What are the right high impact activities?

To answer this question, we have to take a step back by first asking ourselves, “What activities can CRM measure and track?” In fact, we asked many companies this question as part of the research that went into our book, Cracking the Sales Management Code.

Guess how many different metrics you can track in CRM? Over 100? Over 500? It was over a thousand! No wonder sales managers and sales people struggle with adopting CRM.

So we have to bring some order to this chaos. But how? I mean, we can’t ask our salespeople to figure out what metrics they should be focusing on in your CRM by themselves. It’s just too overwhelming, and again, adoption and utilization will suffer as a result.

To figure this out, we asked ourselves one question: “Can a Sales Manager control this metric?” It’s a simple question, but incredibly powerful.

And when we asked ourselves that question, we were able to organize all of these different metrics into three distinct, but related, categories:

Creating Alignment

  • The first are business results metrics (e.g., revenue, market share) that are critical to the business, but not directly controlled by a sales manager.
  • The second are sales objectives metrics (e.g., customer retention, new customer acquisition) that can be influenced by a sales manager, but not directly controlled.
  • And the third are sales activities metrics (e.g., call volume, account plan completion).  Now these CAN be controlled by a sales manager, and because of that, a manager can proactively manage these metrics.

Aligning Sales Activities and Business Results
Now, the next step is to create linkages among these categories. Let’s start at the top.

Once you identify the business result you want for your business (e.g., $XX Million in Sales or XX% Market Share), the next step is to figure out what sales objectives (e.g., market coverage, new customer acquisition) are best suited to attain those results, and then (and only then) identify sales activities (e.g., account plan creation, prospecting calls) that align to those sales objectives.

As a quick aside – this is how we help our clients “crack the code” for their sales managers. We help our clients to identify the Objectives and Activities that give our clients a clear path to attaining Results. And we then provide an execution model in order for the sales manager to achieve those results.

Using Alignment in your CRM

After you have created the Results-Objectives-Activities alignment for your sales organization and identified the “right” high-impact activities, you now have the most important dashboard for your company to track and follow. Think about it – every CRM system can tell you how you’re tracking against your revenue number for the year (that’s the Result). But can yours tell you whether your sellers are executing the right activities each week (beyond volu-metrics like “number of sales calls/week.)? This is how to tap into the power of CRM to provide the data you need to more predictably run your sales organization.

Also, instead of your sales people entering the minimal amount of information to stay out of trouble (and to get paid for deals they close), a sales rep will use CRM to understand how they’re tracking against the right sets of activities – those that will give them the best chance to hit goal.

This is how you bridge the wide gap between what executives and sales people want from CRM.  You now have aligned the Results that are important to sales executives with the Activities that your sales people are focusing on.

This is only one step – and a critical one – to better enable CRM adoption.  But we haven’t yet touched on the role of the sales manager. If we identify the right set of activities for your sales people to focus on (those that give us the best chance of successfully attaining our business results), we need to get managers to manage those activities relentlessly.

And this is where things get really exciting – because by taking this next step, you will truly be transforming your CRM system from a tracking/reporting tool – to a coaching tool. More on that in my next article.

For now though, a few quick questions:

  • Is the amount of data in CRM overwhelming your sales force?
  • How does the “noise” affect the adoption of the system?
  • What ways have you solved for this?