CRM is for Lovers: Four Ways to Make Sales Love CRM


Product Management Team


Strut Your CRM Stuff!

In my first post, I explained that people hate CRM because most CRM implementations are designed with the primary purpose of collecting data instead of making customer-facing jobs easier. The solution to this problem is clear: Make the system work for the front-line people instead of against them. This post will outline four proven ways to make CRM haters into CRM lovers.

  1. Combine Stuff
  2. Link Stuff
  3. Automate Stuff
  4. Strut Your Stuff

1. Combine Stuff (for new insights)

When disparate data points about a customer or an individual are pulled together in one place it’s amazing what someone with the right context will figure out.

For example, one company had been logging all customer activity on their support site for years. This log was mainly used by technical staff for troubleshooting. It contained things like log-ins, specific builds of the software that had been downloaded, video tutorials that had been viewed and so on.

In working with the Sales and Support teams, the CRM Administrator realized that getting this valuable data into their CRM system would help answer a lot of questions the front-line people asked all the time. For example, “Who at this prospect had downloaded?”, “What build of the software is the customer using?”, and so on.

It took only a few hours of work and today the sales and support people can click on an account, lead or contact to see what’s been happening on the support website, providing them with valuable insights to better serve their customers.

2. Link Stuff (for added intelligence)

Often things are explicitly related in a CRM System. For example, Contacts belong to Accounts. Other times relationships are not so clearly reflected in CRM.

Many companies have rules that determine how to route new leads to their salespeople according to factors such as company location, industry, and size. Some companies leverage business rule technology to automate this sometimes complex routing process.

Often, however, there is additional information that would change how a lead gets routed. For example, a prospective customer may be working with a number of partners who will be involved in the buying process. Chaos would ensue if a partner working with Mick’s customer gets routed to John. You need a way to ensure that any leads associated with the opportunity are routed to the right sales person, whether they are with the prospect or the partner. You codify these implied relationships, even if temporarily.

One way to do this is to create a type of record in the CRM System that associates an email domain with a specific salesperson. You can then also link together leads that come from the same domain. In this way, salespeople that have a history with a certain account or who won an account globally will be assigned leads from that company, even if the leads would ordinarily be routed elsewhere due to factors such as geography. With these linkages in place, the CRM System intelligently routes the leads and is a source of useful information. It becomes a useful tool instead of a hindrance.

3. Automate Stuff (to reduce drudgery)

Many organizations have business processes that are manual, leverage multiple different systems and, thus, error prone. If those processes require customer-facing people to constantly click through a bunch of mindless, repetitive tasks, it can be really soul-sucking. Why not automate those processes in the CRM System? Automating processes reinforces the role of the CRM system as a place to get things done instead of the place where fun goes to die.

Some great examples of this are available in the Public Sector, where CRM is streamlining and automating citizen-centric processes, particularly processes that determine eligibility for government programs. Most of these processes today require case workers to fill out lots of paperwork, look in a bunch of systems and then enter data into a bunch of other systems. Not fun if you are a case worker and certainly inefficient if you are a citizen.

For example, the US government makes money available to states that provide free and reduced school lunches to children of families in need. This program ensures that children receive at least one nutritious meal a day. The family does not even need to apply: the state can auto-enroll a student as long as they can prove that the family is receiving certain types of other needs-based aid. However, the process for determining eligibility ended up being a time- and resource-intensive, manual process for school districts with scarce resources.

States are now implementing CRM Systems with business rules technology to perform fuzzy matching on the student information. This system determines eligibility for a large percentage of the eligible students with no human intervention. This automation removes the “soul-sucking” factor and helps local staff more effectively serve its students.

4. Strut Your Stuff (Because Once is Never Enough!)

If you are the CRM Administrator and you are not evangelizing the CRM System then you had better start. If you have done your job and combined, linked and automated a bunch of stuff to help sales be more effective, then tell the team about it! And then tell them again.

Remind users and leadership of specific ways the system can help them be more effective. They may have been closing a big deal the day the new feature was rolled out, so tell them again. Give them lots of opportunities to learn about features that will help them. Serve your customer so they can serve their customers.

Reminding users how to gain insights about their prospects and customers to help them sell will get their attention—and their respect. Delivering metrics to management is good, but improving processes to deliver better results is even better. CRM should be not only a great database of customer information, but a tool that makes serving the customer (or citizen) easier to help organizations— government agencies and businesses—achieve their objectives.