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SELL THE DIFFERENCE: Establishing your Unique Solution Value

5 Reasons Your CRM System may be Holding Back Your Sales

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 22-Mar-2011

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No CRMMost B2B sales organisations have some sort of CRM system in place - or are planning to invest in one. Yet I still keep coming across basic errors in implementation and usage that prevent CRM applications from being valuable sales tools and which turn them instead into sales prevention systems...

I’ve written on the subject before, but the topic is so fundamental to building a repeatable, scalable and predictable sales and marketing machine that I thought it was worth revisiting the topic - and updating the advice I gave at the time.

Here are 5 of my most frequently-observed reasons why your CRM system may be holding back your sales - and 5 remedies that that can help resolve the problem.

1: Ambiguous Stage Definitions

The first and most obvious reason is the use of ambiguous or undefined stage definitions - so the sales people interpret them as they think fit. There’s no consistency across the sales organisation as to what - for example - “qualified” really means.

The Remedy: Establish and enforce clearly defined definitions for exactly what you mean by each stage in the process. Most critical of all, be clear about the milestone that must be completed before the opportunity can be promoted to the next stage.

2: No Defined Sales Process

CRM systems are most effective when they are used to track the progress of opportunities through a defined sales process that reflects the expected sales actions at each stage along the way. Without a defined sales process, a CRM system is no more valuable than a poorly kept diary.

The Remedy: Draw upon the best practices of your most successful sales people to define a repeatable, scalable and predictable sales process that every sales person can benefit from - and use your CRM system to track progress against it (and conformance with it).

3: Lack of Alignment with the Buying Process

Even if you’ve defined a sales process, if it bears little relationship to your prospect’s buying decision process, you’re more likely to be driving activity than achieving real progress. If your sales process does not reflect your prospect’s buying journey, you’re going to be wasting a great deal of effort.

The Remedy: Take pains to understand the critical phases your prospects go through in their buying decision process. Look for observable evidence of their progress. Ensure that your sales process (and CRM system) captures, reflects and tracks observable evidence of your prospect’s buying behaviour.

4: Focusing on Volume and Value and Ignoring Velocity

Most CRM systems track the volume/number and value of opportunities in the sales pipeline. But few are set up to measure and report on the velocity of deals as they move from stage to stage. Yet repeated studies show that deal velocity is one of the most important and reliable predictors of whether an opportunity will close - and when.

The Remedy: Ensure that your CRM system captures the dates at which opportunities enter and leave each stage of the process, measure and monitor deal velocity, and proactively highlight any opportunities that are “stuck in stage” for management attention.

5: No Benefit to the Sales Person

Even if you’ve implemented all four of my previous recommendations, unless your sales people believe that what they will get out of the CRM system is more than the effort required to enter the required data into it, all you’ll get is unenthusiastic lip service - at best - to CRM adoption.

The Remedy: Look at your CRM system from your sales person’s perspective. Make sure that they see it as a sales enablement system and not an activity recording system. Help them to see it as an invaluable tool to win more business and earn more commission.

How effective is YOUR CRM Implementation?

Having an effective CRM implementation is one of the 10 key foundations of our Business Scalability Maturity Model. You can learn more about how your sales and marketing organisation compares to the best in class in each of these 10 critical areas here.

Even better, if you are a UK-based B2B Company you may qualify for a free benchmarking session which will enable you compare your sales and marketing processes against the best-in-class. Find out more here.

Finally, you might also want to join the Building Scalable Businesses group on LinkedIn - you can join the group here. I look forward to your contributions...

Topics: B2B Buying Process, CRM, Complex Sales