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Director of Online Marketing for Salesforce Work.com. Fascinated with all aspects of digital marketing and social business. David has posted 99 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Want to Boost CRM? Start at the Top

05.10.2013
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Want to Boost CRM? Start at the Top

I don’t know of a sales organization anywhere that isn’t scrambling to find an edge to help them drive more business and close more deals in today’s highly uncertain economy. Everyone I know is pulling out all the stops and working harder. That certainly goes with the territory these days, but I’m sure you have also heard that working smarter is just as important as working harder. If you are looking for ways to work smarter, one of the smartest things you can do is to start using your CRM as a sales revenue tool instead of a sales accounting tool.

CRMs have been around for years now; every sales organization has some version, ranging from something as simple as Outlook to highly sophisticated programs like salesforce.com, Oracle CRM, Microsoft Dynamics, Siebel and more. However, in the vast majority of cases I have seen, sales organizations too often use these systems mostly for sales accounting and to store customer contact info. There are two huge problems with this. One problem is that sales reps, uncomfortable with the fact that the CRM may be used against them, often don’t use it. However, the bigger problem is that many executives and managers don’t realize the true power that a CRM can deliver.

At CCI, we learned a long time ago that one of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of achieving full CRM adoption is the failure to gain the support of executive leadership. Why is this such a key issue? Think of it like this: The sales rep is measured on how well they meet their quota. The sales manager is measured on how well the entire team meets its quota. How is executive leadership measured? That’s right; they are measured on how successful the entire organization is at driving revenue. In order to measure this performance, executives are accustomed to acting upon information as it flows up through the organization in the form of static reports that are typically generated about once a week. Executives then push the appropriate buttons to trigger better performance across the board. The difficulty with this process is that, in order to generate these reports for executives, sales managers are often required to go into the CRM and perform what amounts to accounting gymnastics to harvest the information and put it into the form the executives are accustomed to receiving. Unfortunately, this creates a lot of extra work for the sales manager without providing the sales manager any real benefit or time savings, so the sales manager may be slow to adopt the CRM, or even become resistant to using it altogether.

So, as the CRM is rolled out, executives will need to adapt to a new way of receiving information. In reality, there is no longer a need for static reports produced once per week, because the CRM is designed to deliver rich, detailed reports – usually much better than the static reports the executive has been receiving – and instead of being available only once a week, the data is now available in real time, all the time. These reports may vary in format from what the executive was accustomed to receiving pre-CMR, but it only takes a modest adjustment on the executive’s part to learn how to work in and leverage the new format. Soon, the executive can have better information, delivered in a faster and more actionable style that is much more effective than the old weekly static reports, without requiring any extra work from the sales manager at all. With this more timely and richer information at their finger tips, executives can make the kind of just-in-time decisions that the organization needs to more effectively improve performance and drive more revenue.

Remember, the only reason executives care about sales accounting is because they need the information to measure performance so they can make adjustments that will drive more revenue. Revenue is the name of the game. Therefore, once the executive leadership team gets the vision for using the CRM to drive revenue, they will own it, sponsor it, and push it across the entire organization. That will change the culture of sales management, which will change the culture of sales reps, and that will drive revenue for everyone.

Published at DZone with permission of its author, David Austin.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)