Monday, October 15, 2012

Your CRM is missing opportunities                        

A common problem of CRM data input is that sales reps insert their deals into the CRM on a very late phase. This fact can make analysis like win ratio very wrong and misleading. Why is this happening?

First, as the system administrator, you need to look for the reasons in your particular environment. Run few reports, make few interviews with the key users and see if they are sharing the same concern regarding this phenomenon. It might be one of the below:

System Validations prevent entering a deal with missing information – Not good! A system must encourage the user to contribute information and can ask for additional information once going forward in the selling process. BUT it should never prevent a user to contribute.

The user inserts only "Almost" C/W opportunities – Obviously the sales rep is being monitored on his quotas over the CRM, but the pipeline is left behind. The manager must monitor the pipeline as well as the quota's status. Managers must consist reviewing a sales rep's entire pipeline over the CRM and not via emails/ excel or any other platform.

The user does not want to harm his win ratio – Another issue needs to be taken care of by the management. One of the benefits of the CRM is its ability to learn from negative experience (losing deals) as well as from positive ones (Winning). By sharing his losing information a user is contributing to the entire sales department and the management should encourage him and the rest of the sales team to share this information as well.

The user does not want the management to interfere in an early stage – CRM must project the full and entire pipeline in order to get more accurate forecasting. A sales rep that feels he is being too much monitored will eventually leave much more information behind the radar of the company. This kind of problem must be tackled as soon as possible.

CRM must project the real picture for the management to be able to use it as a strategic tool. A misleading CRM will not be accountable to the key users and eventually will be treated as any other NICE TO HAVE application on the market.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Make the user an autodidact                          
CRM with fast learning curves are highly more successful. Users that will know how to use the CRM quickly will benefit the company with high usage rates and more reliable information. How do you help your users to become independent in the CRM?

I am always keeping the below points in the back of my head, when working on a new or existing environment. I am sure you have much more to contribute.

Talk so they will understand

No matter what is the business and no matter which type of users, a system that speaks the business language will always make more sense. It’s a mistake to assume that users are familiar with the basic dictionary of a CRM. Therefore, you should always try to adjust the existing labels and the wording to the ones who use it. Connection is always simpler when people are familiar with the used language. 

Focus in the core and remove the rest

Remove unnecessary fields, buttons or any features that the user does not use. Help the user to focus on the core business in the CRM and not confuse him with minor issues. If not possible, make the more important components more visible and the minor ones – less. A short and filtered layout is more inviting for the user in the first look.

Specific help needed

Stop writing endless textual help articles. Instead, analyze the user's behavior and allocate the difficulties in the process. Use indicators, flow charts and images to guide the user during his journey in the system. Help the user to decide in which stage of the pipeline he is. Guide the user on the lead qualification steps.

A system that requires many training sessions and long user guides will not stand the test in time. It seems like hard work in the beginning, but this work can save you tons of email replies, replace useless remote desktop control and tremendously reduce user's frustration.

Once a user feels independent using the system, tap on your shoulder for a job well done!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Field left blank – Case for Sherlock                  

There is a blank field on one of the records. A blank field means that users are not communicating with this field. Users which are not communicating with a part of the system are a red flag. Why is it blank? Answer this question and you will be one step closer to a better and more complete system.
I like to do the next step when I review a system for the first time:
I randomly choose a single record and when I find an empty field, I look for the reason. Like Sherlock Holmes on a crime scene, I search for the motive. I am trying to understand what the sales rep had in mind when he left this field empty. He was already here, he put already some information but for some reason chose to skip this field.
There could be many reasons for this "crime" to happen. A field that is left blank is a silent feedback that needs to be read and investigated in order to improve the CRM. What is the user trying to tell me?
I can start by asking on the importance of that specific field. Will the world be a better place without this piece of information? Never be afraid to admit a field is useless and has no justification. Think how much the users will appreciate you for shortening their data entry task. You will be their hero!
I continue with the relevance of this field to the process of the sales rep. This is a good chance to see how much the CRM is connected to its user's daily work. A system which is not communicating daily with its audience will become irrelevant very quickly.
One piece after another, I am trying to complete the puzzle. The investigation can sometimes take time, but this is a crucial process on the way to a better system.
Once we find the answer, it is a win-win situation -
Catch a piece of information that was once lost – we made the CRM more complete
Remove an irrelevant part of information – we made the CRM more focused

Monday, April 9, 2012

Think before Sync (With outlook)                            

One of the main demands from a CIO or VP Sales when talking about CRM is the option to sync with Outlook, Google Mail or any other mailing system. This is strange for me because I find it hard to believe that someone will use this information. Here I review the most common arguments regarding the demand of email synchronization.

First they say: "We want to better track the communication between the salesman and his customer". Mmm, I am feeling sorry for the employee, let's call him Bob, whose scope of work is going over hundreds of emails of an entire sale or marketing department searching for information. In addition, Bob cannot obtain any analysis by reading email context because he does not know the relationship between a specific salesman and his customer, what happened at the last meeting and frankly speaking, this is really not the way to control the sales team's behavior in front of the customer.

Another argument of them is: "We want to archive all the mailing history to better know the customer". Here the mistake it that CRM is not a repository for all ever-written emails.  Let me doubt the fact that a sales director will ask his team to read every mail, one by one, to obtain a pattern of any customer and based on that, set the marketing strategy of the upcoming year. Sounds logic or not?

Third argument is: "This will help us analyze the work being done in the field". In the point that we are standing today, as far as I know, there is no algorithm to automatically analyze text into strategy and I guess no CIO will want to add this task as a milestone to his CRM implementation project.

The salesman needs to add information to the CRM to support the management and not waste time on copying emails from one system to another.

CRM is a strategic tool and not and archive. Adding ten emails to ten different won opportunities will not contribute to the management. If a salesman answers a question such as "What was the main reason for your win?" to CRM, that input can be easily transferred to strategic information. Also, by manually feeding the CRM, you are asking the salesman to think and reflect his own sales process and not just copy text or attach emails to the opportunity.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Shhh...Records are talking                         

When you stand in front of a tree, you can see that he has no fruits, but when you climbed on a mountain, you can see that that the river's flow is not strong enough to bring the water to the tree.

When a manager is looking on a salesman's deal, he can see the information on this specific deal and learn from it.  Does he really? There were so many attributes that influenced this deal that it is sometimes hard to distinguish between a fact and a coincidence.

What if the manager will look on the last 10 deals that this specific salesman managed? What if he will look on the last 50 deals of this specific salesman? Can he gain new information on his employee? Can he really obtain a pattern?

Many managers are fully satisfied with seeing a pipeline. They are happy to see how existing deals are getting closed and how new deals are going in. This is great, but they are missing one of the most important benefits of the CRM – it memorizes everything. By using the CRM, one can already start answering questions like:

1.       Why do we keep losing deals with our main product?
2.       When should we start pushing our customer to close a deal?
3.       Why does Katy close deals only in the end of the year?
Already in the design phase of the CRM those questions need to be raised, so all the relevant information will be gathered during the sales cycles and reach to the point of analysis. After 4-5 sales cycles, once the data is already there, you simply start to learn from it.

One application that demonstrates this approach can be seen in the Salesforce appexchange here. This is a free application that analyzes history deals and gives new information on the related customer. With this app, you look on the past activities in order to learn how to make your future activities efficient and more customers oriented in order to win the next deal!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Won Opportunity – CRM celebration
Salesman just closed an opportunity in the CRM as a win. What was CRM's reaction for that update? How the management would react to this info if it was a phone call or a text message?

CRM is all about winning deals. Actually, any organization main target is winning deals. When a deal is being closed in the system, it should be clear that an amazing thing just happened. Does your system give that feeling to its sales team?

CRM gives you the ability to react immediately and to be very focus on the message you deliver. Not like adding new contact or update a task, closing a deal in the system should be treated like the best thing that can happen within the system borders.

Use the CRM to increase the influence of a win. When it is still fresh, ask the sales rep to share his winning experience.  Try to allocate the main reasons for this particular win. Leverage this win in order to win similar opportunities that are stuck in the pipeline.

Make all the organization part of this win. Notify the rest of team with this event. Mark this opportunity and post it on the company's dashboard for the rest of the week. With the help of the management, give the salesman the recognition he deserves and by doing so, motivate the rest of the team to close their deals as well.

Closed Won... How did you do it?
Closed Won... Show the rest of the team how they should work.
Closed Won... We are happy to have you on our team!

Celebrate a win! This is what it's all about and with CRM, it was never so easy

Ignore a win and you are missing a huge advantage of this system

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Email alert keeps you out                                                              
Email alert informs the user on processes inside CRM. Is the alert making the user seek for more information inside the system or does it keep him out?

Sales regional manager just got an email, into his outlook, with the pipeline status, showing the summary of all open deals within his team.  Will he login to the CRM to look on the deals which are close to winning, or maybe the ones that are stuck in the beginning? It depends on the manager reaction to the email and also on his belief in the CRM reliability when it comes to the pipeline picture.

As part of the adoption process, we ask the users to login in order to add new deal, to update an existing one, to view the pipeline and plan the forecast for the next period.  It is important to establish the CRM as his headquarter and decrease the usage of other applications when it comes to sales management.

At least in the beginning, CRM users must act inside the system, in order to make traffic of information and increase the login time. Many email alerts, reflecting the information inside the CRM, make the user passive and out of the system, with no reason to login. In this way, the CRM is missing his knowledge and experience to the selling process.

Email alert, made in the right way and in the right phase of the process, can arouse the interest of a user to login. But in the same time, it can damage the system attraction and become a reason for low usage.