Today’s post is by Charles P. Collins, executive vice president of sales planning automation at PrecisionSales Engineering. It appeared originally on the Precision Sales Engineering blog and is used here with permission.See how PrecisionSales Engineering can help with your sales planning; click here for a free demo.
Some time ago, I sat across from a CEO who boasted that he had more than 80 enterprise prospects in the sales pipeline. He knew this for a fact because, as he told me, it was in his morning CRM dashboard summary.
You can probably guess what followed. After digging into the actual activity, we found that there were precisely two service providers with whom his reps were meaningfully engaged. Two! It was a phenomenal and potentially devastating disconnect.
Gallup and Harvard Business Review recently published very sobering statistics that should make every sales manager reassess his or her reliance on so-called productivity tools such as CRM. In an exhaustive analysis, Gallup concluded that “only 30 percent of US employees are engaged at work, and a staggeringly low 13 percent worldwide are engaged.” It was further reported that this number has not changed in 10 years, despite the fact that we have seen a vast improvement in the information technology used in the workplace.
Further analysis placed the blame for this lack of engagement squarely on managers’ shoulders. In fact, Gallup found that 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement scores was directly attributable to their managers.
Why the abysmal productivity rates despite all the new technology (e.g., CRM) that purports to increase productivity? The answer is really quite simple: technology is a tool, and any tool is only as effective as the skill with which its operator uses it.
Just as spreadsheets can be a powerful tool if you understand how to use and apply macros and workflows to achieve a specific result, CRM is useful only if it is applied to
- proactively manage the sales force to achieve a clear set of objectives,
- establish clear operating metrics that define a successful result, and
- accurately reflect what the sales force is doing tactically on a day-to-day basis to achieve that result.
Without checks and balances along the way, an imprecise and unfocused implementation of CRM can be more destructive than having no CRM at all.
Another critical success factor for effective use of CRM is understanding the top-down principle of sales management: achieving a target (i.e., sales revenue) is possible only if the objectives and supporting goals to realize those objectives have first been carefully crafted by sales managers, then communicated to the sales organization and tied to unambiguous metrics that define what tasks need to be completed and when. Using CRM simply as a bucket to log calls, track proposals, or store so-called prospects ignores its main potential to improve sales engagement.
The lesson? Don’t mistake useless noise in your CRM for a sales pipeline. When sales projections are supported by facts rather than hope and the CRM system is used as a planning and management tool, success will follow every time. And that’s a fact.
See how PrecisionSales Engineering can help you leverage Salesforce CRM for improved sales planning.