Effective Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software provides insight to sales representatives that they can then use to improve decision-making, make customers happier and figure out the most effective ways to manage their time.
Sales reps should be looking at their CRMs upwards of 30 times per day, but half of them don’t. Why is that?
The issue often stems from a lack of buy-in at the onset. When distributors decide to adopt a CRM, they design the system without the insight from and support for the people who will be using the software day in and day out: the sales team. A foundational design criterion is that 80% of the information in the CRM goes to the sales force and only 20% comes from the sales force.
CRM Checklist for Success: The 5 Core Sales Effectiveness Processes
An effective CRM provides insight to sales reps that they use to improve their decision making around what they do and how they do it.
All CRMs provide the following:
- Territory intelligence offers insight into which customers and prospects offer the highest potential to grow at the lowest cost to grow, even as they keep changing.
- Call management helps analyze where best to invest sales calls and provide capability to adjust on the fly.
- Opportunity pipeline which allows you to pay attention to major transaction opportunities and increase close rate.
The customer attractiveness, call logging and other opportunity details are important—and all-important to sales reps. But performance measurement and coaching and feedback are the most critical elements for CRM effectiveness.
- Performance measurement helps sales managers determine whether defined activities generate the desired results by creating territory scorecards.
- Coaching and feedback by sales managers using sales metrics (even 15 minutes a month) helps them to adjust or improve the performance of their sales reps.
Building a scorecard is a required step for coaching accountability. Scorecards demonstrate whether the sales manager has done an effective job. It’s about recognition and accountability, looking at activity measures, results and investment criteria. Coaching should be done on a continual basis, reassessing actions every 30 days and should take into account the values, territory performance and opportunities for talent development.
The scorecard and coaching steps often intimidate managers; they’re too visible and vulnerable to feedback. If all the sales reps in a manager’s area meet or exceed expectations, and the area is not meeting expectations, you have successfully identified your problem.
Because CRM is a multi-year adoption process driven by improving sales effectiveness, the benefits are most impactful when all five processes are adopted; distributors should view this as a continuous loop of improvement.
Early Engagement in CRM Design is Critical
The system is meant to make salespeople more effective, yet they’re often not involved in the design – Managers end up designing the system, enforcing its use – then receiving complaints from their team as a result.
We recommend you follow this process instead:
- Have your sales team nominate the best reps (but don’t let them vote for themselves), then crown the top six to eight people the “Best of the Best Team” to design the CRM.
- Grab a knowledgeable facilitator for this team to work with. The facilitator can help them define the most common situations that they find themselves in, such as major service failure or initial sales call.
- Break the team into smaller groups and ask them to create the perfect screen of data (also known as dashboards) that they want in each of those situations.
- Ask them to list their typical tasks (like territory planning or midmonth adjustments to make quota) and identify the perfect screen of data to help them complete those tasks effectively (and hopefully more easily).
- Next, grab a technology expert to answer a difficulty scale from one to three (low to high) as well as the cost associated with each design feature. At the same time, the team should be ranking (1 to 3) the commercial benefit of each feature.
- Develop a minimum viable product (to show true senior executive commitment) and outline a phased roll-out, starting with the high-impact and low-cost requests.
Buy-in and participation creates commitment. End of story.
If you’d like to learn more about CRM best practices, check out a report I wrote in partnership with Distribution Strategy Group, available free: The State of CRM in Distribution: Best Practices in CRM – Now and in the Future
Mike Marks co-founded IRCG in April 1987. He began his consulting practice after working in distribution management for more than 20 years. Over the years, his narrow focus in B2B channel-driven markets has created an extensive number of deep executive relationships within virtually every business vertical in construction, industrial, OEM, agricultural, and healthcare.