In our last article “5 Things your CRM Vendor Doesn’t Want you to Ask” we went over some of the things that a salesperson will try to get you focused on vs. what you actually need when evaluating CRM solutions. The five items we covered were:
- Data Entry
- Give Back
- Data Presentation View
As a minimum CRM solutions will have a standard base of features like contact management, forecast management and activity tracking. Some with a larger feature set will include social media marketing, collaboration, lead tracking, scoring, prioritizing, email campaign managers, etc.
The very best / latest CRM’s will even have virtual digital assistants that tell you who you should contact on a daily basis based on prospect scoring algorithms, machine learning and AI, with VR (voice recognition) data entry and in the near future interface with driverless cars (great for sales people on the go).
Quite frankly all the CRM’s market their products in a way that is almost impossible to back up in the real world. It’s up to the buyer to cut through the marketing fluff and realize that all the bells and whistles won’t matter if the system isn’t easy to use, intuitive and provides results the sales reps (not just management) can see and therefore want to use.
Let’s put ourselves in the end user’s seat (usually the sales rep) and think about access and usability. A sales rep has the most scrutinized role in any business. They are tracked, held up to sales quotas and are constantly under pressure to get the next sale. Not an easy job to be sure and sales people know that regardless of what software package management tells them to use, if they don’t meet their quota they won’t have a job. This also means they are going to use the tools they know that will produce for them. If company software doesn’t help them they won’t use it.
If a system is slow to load (remember sales people are often in the field), looks different on phone vs. laptop vs tablet, cumbersome, takes too long to use – they won’t use it. Instead they will go back to their old trusty spreadsheets.
Let’s provide a good CRM example of access and usability. Sharon is headed to a client meeting on Wall Street in NYC. She gets a call as she reaches the parking lot only to learn that her meeting has been cancelled (ugh!!!).
She has already invested an hour of driving & bridge tolls to get to this meeting and would like to make her investment payoff. She pulls out her tablet or cell phone opens her CRM, types in her address and immediately gets a popup showing her which prospects are close to her current location (4 clicks). She makes a few calls directly from her CRM (on the phone) which had already prioritized which prospects were highest value and now has a meeting / no major lost time. She has a step by step sales process in place that her CRM supports, by telling her what products/services to focus on, any up-sell opportunities with this client based on current sales stage and target market history.
Access – The CRM was easy to use and instantly accessible via her phone or tablet while looking as well as performing the same regardless of device or location (opened like an App does- immediate functionality). She could use VR or manual data entry, effortless transfer between phone and tablet because it looks / acts the same. It was easy to access and most importantly fast. (Wall Street hourly parking isn’t cheap!)
Usability – Her CRM acted as a virtual assistant providing her with information on prospect locations and most importantly which ones needed attention / sale probability scoring / most likely to close, distance, last contact date. All she had to do was say “Best sales prospects based on distance from my current location, with highest probability of sale.” After her meeting she opens her CRM using VR to add meeting notes, has her AI setup calendar and email guests, then develop a proposal based on her business target parameters and pulled up the next prospects meeting address with meeting focus, sale probability and meeting time. Why wouldn’t a sales rep want help doing these things? *see Virtual Sales AI of the Future
Conversely Jane is using a standard CRM. After parking in the garage she goes to her trunk, pulls out her laptop fires it up, waits for the OS, and then loads her CRM. A few minutes later, she manually looks up prospects (based on her memory) trying to find a prospect that is close to her cancelled appointment address.
She finds prospects pulls up each account to recall last interaction, and has a think about sale probability, likely hood of meeting on short notice etc. makes a short list in excel or word, then takes out her cell makes her call, then searches for a second, third prospect. After the meeting she enters meeting notes and mentally tally’s likely hood of sale and what her sales forecast would look like. Then she plans her next day call cycle.
The reality is that her CRM is actually a CMS – contact management system. It doesn’t “DO” anything. It stores prospect data but there are no “smarts” behind it, she has to do all the thinking, use her experience to figure out and prioritize work as her CMS is really just a data repository (sometimes sold as a “CRM”). After the meeting she has to manually type in the meeting data, create a calendar entry / guest email and look up old proposals with similar characteristics develop the proposal on her own. She is using her CRM to store contacts and interactions. She does 100% of the thinking; follow through without any CRM help.
Which system would most sales representatives prefer?
David Brown is a Director at Sentia, a next generation sales enablement technology company. Dave’s passion for sales, marketing, startups, business strategy and strategic planning has taken him across the globe and spans numerous industries. You can follow him on Twitter @intlmktentry