Someone asked this question in a user group I belong to, so I shared these thoughts.
The number one reason CRM is not adopted by a sales force is the perception that CRM adds no value to the sales rep, and in many cases this is true. The only way to add value to the rep is to fully understand and document the sales process, and design the CRM system to the process. Far too many sales executives resist sales process, opting instead to allow for “creativity” in the sales force. Unfortunately, when supposed creativity substitutes for process, there is very little that can be done to drive adoption of a CRM system–which is, by definition, process driven. The system is almost defined to be irrelevant in such situations.
On the other hand, a really well thought out, well-organized CRM system is an incredible tool. My small company uses salesforce.com, and I can hardly say how valuable and important it is to us. It is a backbone for everything we do in sales and marketing, and we have customized it to fit our sales and engagement process. As a result, it is easy to tell when I am where I need to be, and what steps to attack when I am not meeting my goals. But that is only because we know what we are trying to do, and have detailed maps of that process.
Clients of ours have put in Seibel, Oracle, SAP, and other systems. In every case, it is essential to have the tool reflect a carefully thought out sales and marketing system–the process–and it is equally critical to manage to the tool. If the managers don’t use it every week for pipeline review, why on earth should a rep use it–especially if it seems to distract them from their work of selling?
In the context of CRM, I always remember this little proverb: “It is better to wander lost in a dark forest than to follow a map made by tourists.” Many reps reject CRM because it looks like a map made by tourists!
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