Why Are CRM Setups A Problem?

I ran into something about CRM solutions and CRM setup that is definitely under the "Curse of Knowledge" this morning. That's when you're familiar with a thing, and you can't remember what it's like not to know it.

A newbie was fascinated that you could customize setting a CRM up. My guess is he's never done one before. Me, I've seen all kinds of CRMs for over 25 years. From ACT! to custom programmed expensive database solutions for multinationals, there's a huge range in how the problem can be solved.

man coding binary program crm setup implementation problem concern

Image credit: Cottonbro from Pexels

The Problem With CRM Setup

But in today's Click-A-Tron world, where you can just download something free and install it today... well, CRM implementation doesn't exactly work the way a lot of other software does.
From the seemingly straightforward question of "What #pipeline stages should I use?" (oh boy, does that ever affect your salespeople's thinking...and can even result in perverse incentives for payouts) through what records you should collect and what you should ignore, CRM customization is a terrible beast.

That's why I don't do it. I'm a systems and process guy, and CRM setup is soul-sucking for me. I want nothing to do with it. So I delegate this important and challenging task to one of two expert friends I have in the field. They enjoy this kind of thing (sick bastards). Tell me if you want to connect.

Be ready to invest in their expertise. This is a key problem: it's central to your sales process. Sales, if you haven't noticed yet, is core to revenue generation and thereby the life of your business. So kind of important, yes?

Why Not Go With Default Settings In CRM Implementation?

And if you're thinking, "What, why don't you just go with the default settings?" then listen up: it's just like SaaS dashboards. You only see what they let you see, and those measures were picked by a techie programmer... not a business owner with an eye on the right numbers. You'll blind yourself with either kind of app if you go with the defaults.

I did a quick episode about this SaaS dashboard problem for my show. Here's the link to it.


Sales Productivity Tools Are Unproductive!

Sales Productivity ToolsSales productivity tools have exploded along with technology over the past decade and a half.

But metric leader CSO Insights reports that productivity in selling has actually gone down: 1 on 1 selling time has dropped from 47% in 1998 to 37% as of 2013.

The Damaging Truth About Sales Productivity Tools

John Fakatselis of Accent Technologies has written a damning article on the unproductivity of sales productivity tools. They do more bad than good.

Earlier this year we looked at the CSO Insights Report on the state of selling. Their research confirmed the things I have known and been saying for a long time: that salespeople do not know how to prospect or qualify effectively.

Fakatselis argues this is because salespeople are distracted by and torn in two directions by so-called sales productivity tools. First, he shares Telesmart's findings that 80% of a rep's time is spent on non-revenue generating activities, because the salesperson doesn't know how to find and identify good prospects. Second, the salespeople seem forced to choose between spending the extra time to develop a one-of-a-kind, personalized presentation for each individual prospect OR getting a canned presentation in front of more prospects. Either they strive for winning, precise content or ditch that in exchange for reaching more potential customers.

John's description of what happens next is very accurate: in the salesperson's attempt to integrate technology and tools, wasted time rapidly accumulates and overwhelms the chances to uncover new prospects. The pipeline either gets clogged with unaddressed opportunities, some of whom leave to find a sales team that "has their stuff together", or sit waiting for a customized presentation...or dries up due to lack of prospecting activity.

So instead of reaching prospects, salespeople are afraid of change, struggling to use technology, and distracted by so-called sales productivity tools. Even if they try to adopt the technology, their sales process becomes murky with the attempt to integrate it.

Can We Still Use Sales Productivity Tools?

Fakatselis' solution is sensible. But it has a "black box" in the middle.

Turn down the technology. Okay, we get that.

Put personalization on autopilot. Here's the black box. John is suggesting an "all-inclusive solution" here; perhaps his own? This part of his article needs more details on what he means. Right now I can't see any way to personalize presentations other than for it to take time. Perhaps this burden of actually creating the material should be taken off the salesperson and given to a marketer? Interviews and ongoing discussion can transfer the knowledge and ensure the presentation content remains on target.

And then an admonishment to keep the pipeline in mind, always. Makes sense. If you're not filling the pipeline and processing prospects through the steps, you aren't prospecting or qualifying. The very two things I said, and the statistics confirm again and again, salespeople are bad at.

The takeaway here is to notice the fact that the latest whiz-bang app or software is NOT likely to help you in selling. When it comes to results, sales productivity tools are unproductive!


Incidentally, I keep technology to an absolute minimum when it comes to my sales process. I'm not at all interested in fighting technology, so I use a simple spreadsheet with some basic conditional formatting as my CRM, together with Google Calendar. I have Timetrade for booking appointments, but don't use it that often; it's typically for people who buy while I sleep and haven't spoken directly with me yet. I wouldn't miss it if it disappeared. I don't waste a lot of time on presentations; my qualifying does nearly all of that work. Fact is, you don't need all those expenses for shiny tools. They probably aren't making a difference for you anyway--and may even be hurting your business.

>> Jason Kanigan is a sales force developer. What productivity apps are you using? Have they had an effect on your sales? Tell us below in the Comments! Also, if this was helpful to you, please Like or Share! And if you're struggling in sales, get the FREE Sales Effectiveness Report. <<


What NOT to Do In Sales: Two Terrible Examples

What Not To Do In SalesWhat NOT to do in sales is just as valuable to know as what TO do. Yet sales leaders are not always in agreement about the best way to move ahead. Recently I found two articles that share, in my opinion, terrible advice. And I want you to be on the watch for misinformation like this.

Titles That Don't Deliver Show You What Not To Do In Sales

First, we have a piece entitled "Top Sales Techniques to Revolutionize Your Business". Sounds good, right? But the first thing the writer does is start talking about "the" sales process--as if there was only one!--and how well-known it is.

Believing there is only one sales process is a huge example of what not to do in sales.

We could swiftly begin by separating sales processes into the traditional features-and-benefits style and the consultative approach. Two right there. The fact is, though, that each company has its very own sales process. Many of them don't even have their process written down. They don't understand it. Their process is sloppy and undocumented, but by golly that baby is their baby...and even if they don't consciously know it, they're following its every wild twist and turn.

In short, there are millions of sales processes.

So don't tell me only one exists, and it's "well understood".

The initial of four "techniques" merely shows the author's lack of having worked with a true sales coach. "Get off my back and leave me alone!" is the cry of the front line salesperson, not a sales leader. And it demonstrates that in the author's experience, close supervision of performance according to quotas rather than behaviors has been the norm.

The only thing this writer does get right is the fact that sales training is an ongoing process. You won't get much from a one-time shot in the arm. Which leads us to our next bad sales article.

What Not To Do In Sales Training

"Train Your Sales Team This Afternoon" this author exclaims. Wow. And this is from a sales training outfit.

Expecting a magic return from a single short investment in training is another big example of what not to do in sales.

Was this article promoted by a slowdown in business? They of all people ought to know better. You cannot get very far at all in one sales training session. If you've been following my commentary, you know that ongoing reinforcement is an absolute requirement for sales success. Otherwise, the salesperson falls back into their old comfort zone and results.

The only possible plus I could take from this article is that it may get a company doing something about sales training...and something is slightly better than nothing.

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