Aligning Software and Process

A good CRM sales process and software provides you with a complete view of the client while allowing you to align your resources to maximize results for both.

Make CRM Part of Your DNA

I don’t think that that there is anyone in sales today that has not heard of, used, or been impacted by a CRM package of one sort or another, be it a simple contact management application with some added functionality, to a top of the line CRM that fully integrates with other enterprise applications.

Many companies will tell you about the disasters they have experienced rolling out a CRM.

I very much believe and have seen numerous examples to support the view that Customer Relationship Management is a way of doing business.

Most of our successful clients have a consistent view on Customer Relationship Management. To them, CRM is part of their culture, part of their corporate DNA.

They see CRM as the proper alignment between software and process to effectively manage their relationships with their customers.

The Alignment is Based On Objectives

Corporate objectives drive the sales organization’s objective; which in turn are the foundation for regional/territorial objectives, and client objectives. When properly executed, these objectives form the basis for each client/prospect interaction.

It is as much about process as it is about software. If you don’t create a balance and alignment between the two, you will fail to manage the relationship with your key customers, and not derive much benefit from your investment.

In fact, a company we know has spent in excess of $13 million dollars over the last 5 years implementing a CRM software with little tangible results to show in improved sales, increased productivity, or understanding of their clients and how to mutually improve their relationship.

The GPS of Sales

A study recently showed that over 80% of the CEO’s surveyed said their sales organization had a process that was poorly defined or a process that wasn’t being followed.

A sales process is like a good map, or a GPS, if you will. Used properly, it helps you determine where you are, if you are heading in the right or wrong direction. It also helps you plan what your “next step” should be to get to your destination.

A well defined sales process gives a sales organization the same advantage. It should have logical and defined steps that allow both parties to develop a better understanding of each other and a set of questions that help you qualify or “disqualify” an opportunity.

A Good CRM Maximizes Results

When we meet with a new client, we always inquire about their sales process. A VP we recently met responded: “why yes of course, we use XYZ.”

Yet he openly admitted that he struggles with forecasting, prospecting, and difficulty distinguishing strategic sales from opportunistic ones. His people were spending too much time with unproductive activity, in the little activity he was able to glean from the system.

(Unfortunately, no software will pick up the phone and do a cold call.)

The clients who do use the software to support their process tell a different story. Activity is focused on the client experience.

It is still true that getting new business from an existing client is much more cost efficient than from new prospects.

No, I am not saying you should stop prospecting. But don’t ignore those that have rewarded you with their business. Show them some love. Make it easy for them to deal with you, and hard to leave you.

A good CRM (process and software) provides you with a complete view of the client while allowing you to align your resources to maximize results for both.

Reducing service calls, reducing time to respond, reducing the effort to take orders, reducing the cost of sale, increasing their satisfaction level, and creating a mutual economical value all add to the relationship.

Retaining the Right Clients

The data available to you will also help segment your clients better so you can decide where you want to put your focus and determine which clients you may want to offload.

Remember that some 30% of your lowest margin clients suck over 50% of your resources. A CRM process done right can assure that you are retaining the right clients.

CRM systems can break down hierarchical communication barriers allowing everyone, not just sales, to focus on the customer relationship. This enables top executives to get involved in meeting client expectations and driving revenue.

Of course, this will only work where the CRM culture is present. And in many companies that have rolled out the software without the process, without the training, and without the internal value proposition, it is not.

As stated earlier, it in fact diminishes the client relationship.

ROI: What’s In It For Them?

Many companies are experiencing pushback from the frontline because they failed to show the ROI to the users. Like the clients, sales reps want to know what’s in it for them.

If there is a supporting process focused on everyone’s success (the company, the rep, the client), then there is a lot to be gained on their part. This can be achieved with a sales process that aligns around key objectives.

Consider that CRM systems are usually associated with sales organizations, but client satisfaction is the function of the whole organization.

A truly successful CRM extends beyond sales to all groups within a corporation. The key success factor is the alignment of the sales process with other processes impacting the client relationship.

Nothing is more predictive of long-term sales success than excellence in sourcing, recruiting, hiring, and retaining top sales talent. Download our FREE Sales Manager’s Ultimate Interview Guide to build your high performing sales team.

About the author

Tibor Shanto

Tibor Shanto has over 20 years of sales experience from telemarketing to leading a…

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