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Sales must use CRM!

CRM as a system ‘entity’ has been with us 20 years and ever since the early days in the mid-90s whenever the question ‘how’s your CRM going?’ is asked, too often the answer is ‘OK but, sales don’t use it’.

In many cases it is only being used by pockets of sales, by individuals or sporadic teams and not consistently across the board.  Some update but not regularly with opportunities being entered just before monthly reports are due.  In other cases, no information is added at all.

Along with poor quality data and the system being too complicated to use, low sales usage make up three of the main reasons why CRM implementations aren’t anywhere near as successful as they should be.

CRM is a strategic project which enables significantly improved client management, provides benefits to both corporate and end users and generates data-rich reports for ongoing new business and sales improvement analysis.  In addition, rollouts can be expensive, so it is surprising, that as sales are one of the main data sources and usage groups, they have been allowed to take their own arbitrary decision not to use it.

Really this should be sorted out.  The reasons for lack of use have been well aired and the apparent badge of honour for non-use which sales have acquired must be dealt with.  It’s true that the ‘system being too complicated’ point has some merit, however there is no excuse for poor data and low sales usage and this can be improved right now.  So here are some thoughts about how the latter can be improved:

  1.  Clearly define a set of benefits for sales and discuss sales usage upfront before the project starts. Involve sales fully in the process and design.  Make sure it can be used on mobile devices
  2.  CRM must be simple to use.  I have sympathy for users when system design is poor, however even if it is clunky, it should be used for all key processes
  3.  Define the ‘mandatory’ data required and key processes to be completed.  Be specific about what’s expected, i.e. the crucial information about the client or the opportunity which must be entered
  4.  Give sales ownership for ensuring data is updated, don’t necessarily expect them to enter it themselves – provide suitable admin staff.  It’s the consistent and clean data that’s important
  5.  Don’t use the expression buy in, it implies they can buy out..

After 20 years we really need to move on from here!