Sales Answer Man: Why You Should Love Using a CRM to Increase Sales

Question: How can our sales professionals use our customer relationship manager (CRM) software more effectively? 

Answer: CRM software is only as good as the people using it. Companies often spend tens of thousands of dollars, only to have their sales professionals not input anything. This is a double negative to the person who wrote the check (the owner).

Here are some of the reasons why management purchases CRM software:

  • Create a paper trail to work from when a sales professional terminates employment or when multiple internal people work on the same account.
  • More effectively manage territories by assigning accounts to certain sales reps and avoid duplication in contacting.
  • Document prospect and client conversations/progress by account. 
  • Automate contacts into their marketing efforts.
  • Reduce duplication of data entry between contact manager, marketing and invoicing.
  • Track key performance indicators by sales professional.

Some reasons sales professionals don’t use CRM are:

  • Takes too much time to input their data.
  • Feels like management is micromanaging them.
  • Requires them to form good habits (which takes time).
  • The CRM software is not available on their phones (desktop version only).

What follows are same best practices to get more out of your customer relationship manager software.

Start Small

Begin tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) to interpret the effectiveness of your sales professionals rather than strictly outcomes. Often sales outcomes don’t reflect the effectiveness of the sales professional, particularly in a longer sales cycle (six months are longer).

Some KPIs might be attempts to reach a new prospect, conversations with a decision maker (not a gatekeeper), first appointments held, subsequent appointments held, number of quotes, number of sales, and sales amounts. With the simplicity of these seven KPIs, this typically takes minutes a day per sales professional to track this.

In terms of credibility, if your sales cycle is 90 days, then after 180 days you have fairly credible information to compare the effectiveness of your people.

Besides KPIs, we also recommend keeping notes on any conversations and meetings that have occurred. It’s easy to forget the details of these conversations, which tends to waste everyone’s time as the sales professional continues to qualify the opportunity.

Brainstorm – What’s in It for the Sales Professional

Nobody likes to be told what to do, and we all prefer to “discover” why something is valuable to us. Hearing how peers benefit from using the CRM is way more powerful than managers, owners, or CRM consultants telling sales professionals why to use it.

This brainstorming session could be facilitated by a manager, a top producer or an early adopter of the CRM. Start with the question: “What is the one thing you love about using our CRM and why?” Give people time to prepare their responses quietly. Then ask each person to share what and why that is.

Additionally, you could offer this question: “If there was one improvement we could make to our CRM, what would it be and why?” Facilitate the discussion the same way the first question was handled.

Similarly, when training your folks on how to use the CRM, rather than the information technology (IT) department conducting the training, possibly have your sales professionals take turns showing how and why they use the CRM. This will accomplish proficiency, hone leadership skills and provide peer pressure of the good kind.

Doing the above creates a buzz and allows a mastermind experience to occur.

Use Voice Recognition Software

Not all CRMs have the voice-to-text feature. If yours does, this can save valuable time for quickly debriefing a phone call or meeting, rather than typing notes. An added benefit is that, over time, your sales professionals who use voice to text will speak more clearly, become more comfortable with pausing and use fewer filler words.

If your CRM does not have the voice-to-text feature, if a phone app is available, they can use voice recognition software included on most smart phones.

As a side note, I’ve co-written three books over the past 10 years. I wrote my portion of our last book using voice recognition software on my iPhone!

When thinking about rolling out a new CRM or re-invigorating your current one – remember to put yourself in your sales professionals’ shoes. Make it easy for them to do the right thing (use the CRM) and hard to do the wrong thing (not use the CRM).

Dan Stalp is president of Sandler Training, a sales and professional development firm. He works with CEOs, presidents, business owners who sell, and peak performers who are tired of walking by their salespeople’s offices to see them on their computers instead of on their phones — and sick of having a superior product and losing out on price. • (913) 451-1760 •


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