If you build it… will they really come?

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Often when we’re engaged with a client or prospect the current, planned or past use of a CRM tool inevitably creeps into the conversation. How? When? Why?

Having spent nearly half of my career working on implementation teams for large scale ERP systems (including CRM modules), I’m about 1000% certain that simply providing a CRM does not make any organization more efficient.  In fact, it frustrates the sales organization and the marketing team still needs to spent weeks trying to obtain a current client list.  So, what can make a CRM work?

There are really three critical elements:

Control the data flow into the system.

Sales people are not cut out for data entry – otherwise they’d be sitting in a cube somewhere with their fingers flying nimbly over the keys.  In most cases, our clients’s sales organizations are still using business card binders to track their contacts – whether they have access to a CRM tool or not.  Sales people should be able to update or edit a record, but should not be able to delete or add a new record – you need a team of data stewards for that.

Make life easier for sales.

Okay, so your sales guys are responding to leads in your CRM, they can update their contacts, and do all of the other cool “tickler” functions, etc.  But you’re still making them submit pipeline reports via an excel spreadsheet.  Really?!  Spend the money to make sure that all of the sales reporting management needs can come directly from the system.  This is a big benefit for sales and will entice them to make use of the tool.

Make using the tool part of the incentive comp plan.

If you cannot determine the outcome of leads and the resulting revenue, a CRM tool is no more than a basic contact manager.  You have to know how effective your marketing efforts are and the only way to do that is make sure 100% of leads are tracked through close – either win or loss.  Clients that have made CRM usage part of incentive comp have seen 100% compliance.

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