Today's post is by Michael Rooney, senior vice president and general manager of bpm’online – provider of process-driven CRM software for marketing, sales, and service that helps organizations win more customers.
As a former sales manager, I’ve used at least 10 CRM systems and gotten significant resistance on every one of them. Regardless of company size or industry sector, the reasons were much the same:
- Extra administrative work. CRM systems took time that reps felt could be better spent in closing deals.
- Deeper management oversight. Reps felt overly observed and saw CRM as primarily giving managers added visibility into their sales pipeline and activities – not helping them meet quota.
- The source of forecasting inaccuracies. For instance, reps might know that a second meeting at a particular account didn’t make the deal more likely to close, but the CRM system might rate it that way – fostering misaligned expectations with the sales manager.
My experience aligns with industry research; according to one study, 72 percent of executives said their sales reps made limited use of their CRM implementation simply because reps couldn’t see “what’s in it for them.”
What reps hate even more than added technology demands, however, is missing out on deals. As the CRM domain has evolved beyond acting primarily as contact management software, expanded feature sets allow CRM to provide significant impact on deals in pipeline, and streamline the time to close.
Making the Switch to Process-Driven CRM
The key to the above is in process. A 2013 Sales Management Association study shows that firms using sales processes to guide sales activity report 30 percent greater profit than those that do not. Not surprisingly, industry analysts including Forrester, Nucleus Research, and Hypatia Research have commended the recent emergence of stronger process capabilities as a significant advance.
Taking a process approach to CRM means automating critical tasks so the salesperson doesn’t have to think about them. This is when the system becomes a true helper – not a burden or distraction. A process-driven CRM system makes it easy to fine-tune and configure sales processes exactly to the organization’s needs and change them on the fly without calling IT. Instead of forcing reps to accommodate the way CRM works, the system accommodates the way they work, with newer, more engaging user interfaces that reduce training time, and mobile versions that can keep up with reps who are on the go.
Process-driven CRM systems also deliver higher ROI. For example, SCi Sales Group reported an ROI of 1,281 percent for its process-based CRM deploymentafter just three months. The intuitive nature of the CRM they used – combined with such features as smart search, filtering, and social data integration – enabled SCi to automate previously manual data-entry processes so sales agents could spend more time selling. The results included greater visibility, increased productivity, and less agent churn.
When strong reps realize that CRM is in their corner, they can see that the solution itself becomes a key contributor on the team, and helps them achieve that “velocity in selling” we all seek. And that’s to everyone’s advantage.