The Secret to CRM Success: Top Down or Bottoms Up?

Fortunately, there are CRM solutions that are designed with the sales person in mind, yet still provide management with the data they need to track results and manage their sales force.

Current technology provides us with the ability to communicate from anywhere—and communicate we do, in the car, on the beach, in airplanes, etc. But it is the ability to work anywhere that is revolutionizing the modern business world. The driving force behind this revolution is known as On-Demand Customer Relationship Management, or CRM for short. Delivered via a true wireless device, CRM is changing the way salespeople operate in the field by facilitating the instant two-way transmission of sales and customer information. As a result, wireless CRM is replacing the cords of yesterday’s desktop PC’s with the cords of managerial expectation. Managers expect to see results, they expect to be able to work directly with sales teams, and therefore they implement CRM solutions that they believe will help salespeople produce the information they need. But not all CRM solutions are created equal … and it appears that the large investments in CRM have yet to truly pay off; in fact, a recent Butler Group report found that 70% of all CRM implementations fail!

How can we overcome the problems that keep us from realizing the true promise of wireless CRM? The answer lies in how the solution is created, not in its implementation. Instead of creating a system that is in touch with the salespeople “in the trenches,” these solutions are often imposed from the top down, making them process-oriented and requiring additional time to manually input data and track activities. So, while each salesperson has his or her individual method that produces results, the typical CRM application disconnects the sales force from their sales process. In the end, sales teams will always return to their individual, “tried-and-tested” methods, and without strict enforcement by management, the costly CRM “solution” that they so carefully selected and spent years implementing will fail at a detriment to profits, shareholders, and the sales force-managerial relationship.
It doesn’t have to be this way. CRM solutions can be a solution for both management and salespeople. Management crave information to aide in tracking, monitoring, and projecting sales, while sales teams want a laissez faire approach that will permit them to use their own methods to foster relationships with customers and complete sales Fortunately, there are CRM solutions that are designed with the sales person in mind, yet still provide management with the data they need to track results and manage their sales force. for the company. Firstly, the ideal solution is one that is truly wireless- i.e. does not require the user to log in, dial up, or cradle the device, works on any wireless device, and is embedded in applications that are familiar and easy-to-use. Additionally, the optimal solution must work as salespeople work, providing them with a sales tool that doesn’t change their methods or processes.
Unfortunately, the majority of solutions available today represent a tug of war between sales tools and reporting tools, where reporting tools often win out. Salespeople forced to use these systems must invest additional time manually entering their daily or weekly data so management can track their performance. It is the CRM solution that helps salespeople do their job, more quickly and easily, that will be more eagerly adopted. This same solution can also track results by collecting data during the activities within the sales process, without the need for manual reconstruction. The entire sales cycle is simplified and automated for the salesperson, providing him or her more time to complete sales while unobtrusively collecting the activities and results of their business transactions in the background.
As always, the best advice when considering any CRM solution is to pay attention to your sales teams and help them do what they do best. Find solutions that will enable the applications in devices that your sales force already uses and focus on letting those solutions help your sales team do their job. Choose integrated customer service solutions that allow you to gain a complete view of both your customers and sales figures while empowering, not inhibiting, your sales teams. Ensure that solutions not only track emails, but also journal calls when salespeople use the phone, and associate calendar appointments with products and revenues when sales teams enter information into their calendars. Choose a complete solution for your sales team and leverage it to obtain your management information. You’ll be surprised at the ready adoption of the “bottoms up” approach.