Good sales people aren’t lazy. They aren’t stupid, either. They just like simple sales processes – and as a CEO or other decision-maker in the company, so should you.
Sales teams complaining about their new CRM solution and requirements to track every sales call or email has become a business cliché. But salespeople aren’t tech-phobic hillbillies. I can see every day in my role doing sales consulting in Vancouver, most of them are never more than a hand-grab away from their smartphone or tablet. They know perfectly well how to run spreadsheets and CRM systems if they have to. They just think they’re better off spending less time on admin.
They want to spend more time talking with customers and less time typing into a database about how they talked with their customers. They’ve got a point.
Forbes Contributor Gene Marks gets to the nub of the sales CRM problem:
They are terrible when they are not implemented the right way. They are terrible when companies don’t appreciate that all of these magical applications are nothing but databases and don’t put the right processes in place to ensure that all interactions are entered into this database so that the data can be properly used for further sales, marketing and service interactions. They are terrible when companies don’t assign strong administrators, or cut corners on training or try to do too much at one time.
Don’t get me wrong – CRMs work very well for a lot of companies. We’ve helped implement them effectively many times. And we’d be the last ones to suggest that your sales team can just wing their sales strategy and processes. Still, there’s a reason it’s become a business cliché.
A little while back, I’m doing some sales management training with a large-scale organization that had implemented a very complicated CRM system and pipeline management system. It was a big investment for the company and it just wasn’t paying off. Sales were heading south – so the company asked us to take a look.
Even more than we’d seen at some other firms, the sales team balked at using the shiny new CRM. The sales people at this company (like sales executives at virtually all companies) were people persons. They wanted to deal with people, not technology.
Why fight that sentiment? My job wasn’t necessarily to get the sales people to like their new CRM system, or even to use it. We were hired to get sales back up so this company could grow revenue again.
We chucked the CRM system. I reverted the sales team back to using a plain old Excel spreadsheet. I got them to buy into a simple process – and it worked. Sales went back up. They stayed up.
One big thing we’ve learned about sales strategy: a simple sales process has the highest probability of actually being used. That makes it sustainable – so even when the sales management consultant goes off to their next engagement, your ROI just keeps getting better.