Six Things to Consider when Implementing a CRM Tool.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools are a must have for organizations of all sizes.  They tend to garner a love or hate relationship … and it can be pretty black and white.

CRM, broken down to it’s simplest form, is a reporting tool.  It allows an organization to forecast sales and manage pipeline.

When a CRM is first implemented, it changes a sales person’s life.  Whereas they may be used to being a rock star in their organization and largely on their own, now they might feel like they have a tracking device on them…and you don’t want your best sales people to feel that way.  I’m referring to the individuals who make things happen.  Who handle rejection on a regular basis.  Who cultivate relationships.  Who take notes they jotted down on a napkin at a cocktail party and turn it into a million dollar account.

The best sales people are largely responsible for the financial success of the company’s they work for.  How do you preserve that mode of operation while implementing a CRM?

Suddenly, sales now has to report everything they are doing.  Every call they make.  Every win.  Every loss (rejection).  Every visit.  This gives a Sales Manager or Director direct insight into their activities and an opportunity to potentially micromanage them.  In this case, sales will likely begin whispering that this tool is Big Brother and hampering them to do their jobs effectively.  When this happens, it’s a signal your CRM implementation is failing.

…so how do you avoid this?

If set up properly, CRM should save time and money.  Here’s a few things to consider:

1 – Set up a pipeline report for Sales.  Give them a graphic report that shows their sales activities at various stages in real time.  This makes planning their update meetings much easier and will save them time and stress.

2 – Set up Task Management.  Sales doesn’t want to be on the phone with marketing asking for materials or with inside sales detailing out what a quote should look like.  Make it possible for them to send simple and easy tasks that show real time progress right in CRM.  Time not spent hounding marketing and inside sales is time now spent on direct sales activities.

3 – Influence your Sales Leadership to focus on the reporting aspect or only opportunities that have a certain dollar or partnership amount.  This will prevent the micromanagement perception.

4 – Integrate a social feed.  This allows the company to follow people, opportunities, etc.  It fosters competition, camaraderie and enjoyment. Individuals can post messages to each other, congratulate big wins, offer advice on losses, etc.

5 – Plan for mobile.  Consider giving your sales teams tablets with a cellular network.  This encourages them to make a note or update an opportunity in real time.  Perhaps this is them sitting in their car in the parking lot after a call, rather than spending a Friday afternoon digging through the past week’s notes trying to remember all the details..

6 – Integrate Marketing Automation.  You want sales to live in CRM?  Generate quality leads for them and make them only available in CRM.

Finally, communicate early and often what the CRM’s intention is.  If you don’t want it to be Big Brother..say so.  Good intentions don’t mean much, though. Including some of these points will back up your talk with good actions.

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