If Your CRM Could Talk – What Would It Say?

Revenue generating… easy to use… best-in-class functionality… These are all buzz words used to market 300+ CRM applications.  In fact, the CRM industry is the biggest and fastest-growing software market in the world, and in a few years will likely be a $60-billion industry.

As a sales consultant, on a first visit with a new client I always want to learn their CRM, specifically how it’s used and what people think about it.  All too often the responses are very negative.  After a while I start to wonder, “If your CRM could talk, what would it say?”

  • “Why do I live here when no one talks to me?”
  • “Why do you have so much stuff missing or that doesn’t match?”
  • “I overheard you having a great conversation, but I didn’t get the whole story.”
  • “Really, I’m not that hard to work with. But you need to give me more of your time.”
  • “I can do some very cool things, but no one cares.”
  • “Come on, that isn’t the truth!”

The Right Sales Tool for the Right Job

With a few exceptions, companies don’t grow exponentially, they grow organically with a normal growth curve.  But business owners often struggle with the CRM decision, looking for the perfect tool to catapult their organizational process and create huge growth.  CRM’s are mistakenly viewed as a key revenue generation tool and a significant company decision.  While CRMs are invaluable, they are not the be all end all of business development.  Of course, you have to actually use the CRM to reap its benefits.

Any internet search will find an almost infinite amount of research data to support both the value and challenge of choosing and using a CRM: without a CRM, 79% of leads fail; company adoption rates on CRM installs is only 26%; only 50% of companies with 10 employees or less uses a CRM tool. These are just a few examples of the staggering statistics.  But perhaps the most disappointing and critical finding is that somewhere around 50% of CRM projects fail to meet expectation.

The 6 Rules of CRM

As a consultant for small to mid-size companies, I like to follow these six CRM decision-making rules:

  1. Don’t focus on the marketing of what the CRM can do, but what do you need it to do today? Generally, as your company grows and your sales organization becomes more sophisticated, even the less robust CRM applications will meet your needs for a while.
  2. Identify a CRM that is easy to use and visually appealing. Remember, you are asking people to work within it for hours each day, so simplicity and enjoyability are key to adoption.
  3. Map your sales process first and make sure the CRM matches it. Many CRMs are designed for specific industries and sales processes.  Don’t be influenced by your owner friend – find the right fit for your company.
  4. It must be reasonably simple to install and train. If it takes more than two weeks to start running at a realistic performance level, then you have the wrong CRM.
  5. As the business owner, you need to feel comfortable using it daily or weekly. You must walk the talk and show commitment towards sales transparency and accountability, or others won’t.
  6. For today’s sales teams, it must have a mobile version. If you want your team out in the field communicating with prospects and clients, make it easy for them to keep current and accurate details.

Bonus rule: avoid the one and done approach.  Don’t buy a CRM thinking it will last the life of your business.  As your business, your sales organization and your sales team all grow, your CRM software should evolve, too.

The bottom line when choosing a CRM is to focus on identifying a tool that will do what you need.  One that creates transparency on activities centered around how you sell to your prospects and how you communicate with your current customers.  Adopt a CRM that your sales people want to use and will get value from.  This will ensure that it becomes a centerpiece to your organizational sales and customer discussions.

Follow my six CRM Rules and in just a few months, your CRM will be saying, “Wow, I love it here.  I get so much attention, and respect, and people value what I say.”  That is the CRM metric that generates success for your company.

Questions about your CRM or how to use this tool most effectively? Contact me at michael@toplinesolutions.org for sales leadership consulting and sales management.