Your CRM System – Nemesis Or Ally?

As salespeople, we need to use a Customer Relationship Management system to ensure adequate lead capturing, follow up and nurturing – crucial aspects that have led to many celebrated deal closures and pats on the back for me and my sales comrades.

Most CRM systems perform the task of relationship management very well. The main problem with these systems, however, is the misconception that a CRM system will magically help salespeople sell more or become better at their jobs.

With 15 years of sales experience under my belt, I have been exposed to many different CRM systems and have found that the most influential factor in CRM success is the way the system is applied by an organisation and adopted by the users. No CRM will magically enable better sales results, but a well-deployed system serves as a powerful tool in the hands of a determined salesperson.

To ensure sales success you need to make a CRM work for you; make the most of the advantages that the system offers and if you find something to be bothersome about it, take steps to improve the system, either directly or with the people managing it.

The main advantages I get from a well-deployed CRM system include the following:

  • Enables me to engage in meaningful interactions with many more people than I otherwise would be able to.
  • Automatically keeps track of all emails and phone calls with each lead.
  • Powerful search and filter functions allowing me to systematically stay on top of my game, identify overlooked opportunities and experiment with new approaches – plenty of little hacks that give me sales superpowers.
  • Tracking key opportunities.
  • Current contact info.
  • Notes to remember.
  • Automated and streamlined quotes, leads, appointment setting etc.

User Adoption Key for CRM Success

Problems with CRM often arise when the CRM system takes on “a life of its own” and becomes the job, instead of enabling better sales management and control. Using a CRM system to manage sales people (forecasting, sales accountability) and as a marketing-specific tool to gather data only calls upon some of the functionality available and should not be the main focus.

Remember that “CRM” stands for Customer Relationship Management. When used correctly, CRM offers sales automation, as well as invaluable insight for sales reps and managers into your current and potential clients.

If a CRM system is used incorrectly — i.e. salespeople are using it inconsistently, inaccurately tracking their activities and contacts with prospects, leads and customers, then you run the risk of:

Not getting the value you should out of what’s typically very expensive software,
Lost or inaccurate information that can cost you deals by not knowing the next step in the process to be taking, Sales managers evaluate their teams incorrectly by thinking they are being less productive/performing more poorly than they actually are.

All of these scenarios can make a CRM system seem like sales team’s nemesis, rather than its ally, which highlights the importance of fostering employee buy-in and CRM engagement.

A properly implemented and adopted CRM system enables benefits for managers and sales reps: transparency, accountability, awareness of your processes, and comprehensive knowledge and understanding of where your prospects are in the sales cycle. As a result, salespeople can serve customers better by having all information and insight at their fingertips and always being ready to act when the opportunity arises. This kind of properly deployed CRM system results in less stress, more celebrations, and, ultimately, company growth.

What do you find to be the main advantages and disadvantages when using a CRM system?