One sure sign that a sales team cannot be serious about winning new business is their lack of commitment to a credible CRM system. In other words they do not depend on CRM in the same way that they depend upon email or Word.
The acid test is this “if you removed CRM from the firm would anybody be banging on your door demanding its reinstatement”. If the answer is ‘not really’ then it probably isn’t deployed properly and if that’s the case your new business capability is almost certainly under-performing.
Well if CRM is so important why do so many firms fail to implement it successfully? Good question I think and one that needs some answers so here are Mikey’s Magic Three:-
1. You train people how to use the system but not how to make use of the system. They understand how to add and access data but cannot easily graft this onto their real-life business development activities. In short they have a system but lack any credible BD processes to use it with so they can’t see the point of keeping it up to date and so they stop using it.
2. You choose the wrong system. Surely all CRM systems are pretty much the same aren’t they? No they’re not and here are the key issues:
a) You cannot change the system yourself, so you have to go back to the vendor to do it. They charge £400 an hour so you don’t bother even though there is a real business need to make the changes. After a time your system no longer supports the needs of its users so they find alternative ways to meet those needs usually involving Outlook or spreadsheets.
b) It does not interface with your existing equipment. If it doesn’t talk to Outlook or whatever enterprise software you use, forget it. Even if it does can you access it from your smart phone or Blackberry because if you can’t the data will not be updated or used enough and people will find other ways to do what they need to do.
c) It doesn’t actually do what you need because you didn’t write a detailed requirements document before you went to market. You took the one that was cheapest/dearest/flashiest/sold by the most attractive sales person and not the one that best suited your needs. Preparation prevents pi$$ poor performance and so does creating a requirements document.
3. The data take-on project is way too ambitious so never gets completed. People imagine that the system can’t go live until all relevant data is collected from Outlook, spreadsheets, old systems, marketing databases, the accounts package and people’s diaries and loaded onto the new system. I spent 10 years in IT and here’s the thing: this is an impossible dream and should absolutely, under no circumstances, be considered.
So there you have it. If you want a potent new business development capability in your firm implement a CRM system that works. If you want a CRM system that works focus more on making use of, and not just using, the system; choose a system that you can change, interfaces with Outlook (or similar) and specify your requirements before you buy and lastly be realistic with your data take-on expectations.
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