How to Talk to Your Sales Force About CRM

Some salespeople believe their CRM is a waste of time, that it doesn’t help them improve their results. They treat it like a task—one that they should avoid. Others believe that it is Big Brother, a tool used to spy on salespeople and monitor their every move. Neither of these beliefs is correct, nor are they helpful.

As a sales leader, you want something more than grudging compliance. You want your team to use your CRM—and all tools—to produce their best results.

Why We Use a CRM

There are several reasons we use a CRM. The first reason is that the CRM is the very best way to organize our clients, prospective clients, leads, and the contacts with whom we interact as we sell. There is no modern sales force that doesn’t keep all of their contacts and the information about their companies in a single place. No organization can afford to have this information strewn across multiple locations, or on business cards in cardboard boxes or leather binders.

The second and equally important reason we use a CRM is that it allows us to organize our work and track our progress. We need to categorize leads, targets, prospects, and existing clients and find what we need when we need it. We also need to measure our progress as we prospect, noting who we called, the outcome of the call, and any notes that might be useful in the future. By updating the information, our knowledge of the contacts and their company grows.

We also need to track our progress once we engage with a client. We primarily mark that progress by creating an opportunity (or deal) and tracking its movement through our sales process. But we also capture the important information in a place and a format where it provides us with a way to recall this information as you pursue your prospective client, things like what’s compelling them to change, the other stakeholders they mentioned in your first meeting, and the name of their two children.

The way we use CRM makes it a strategic tool for us as an organization, and it provides equal or greater value for you. Your brain is for thinking, not remembering every detail of every conversation you have with your contacts and clients.

Big Brother and Accountability for Future Results

The worst possible belief you can have about the CRM is that it is “Big Brother,” a tool used to monitor your activity, allowing your leadership team to spy on you.

The kind of person who worries about someone looking at their activity is guilty of two things. First, they are guilty of not doing enough work, which is why they don’t want to use the CRM, something they believe will expose them. Second, they are guilty of believing that their sales manager isn’t already aware of how little work they’re doing. If you are worried about people recognizing that you need to do more work, trying to hide how little work you do isn’t going to improve your results; doing more work will improve your results and your willingness to use the CRM.

I hope you are proud of the work and the effort you put into work every day. Our work is important.

A CRM is a way to track and measure your results. It doesn’t create accountability, but it does provide information about some of the things for which you and I are accountable, starting with the financial results and extending to the outcomes we need to create, and records of some of our activities. With or without a CRM, I promise you that you would still be accountable for the same results now, whether we used a spreadsheet or carved numbers into stone blocks. The best organizations—and the best sales organizations—are all built on positive cultures of accountability.

Without data and information, we are flying blind. The CRM is a tool that allows you to see your future, whether that future is the one you are trying to build or failing to create. We need to know where we are, how we are tracking, and make the necessary adjustments to deliver our future results.

Make It Your Own

I encourage you to make the CRM your own. Use it to keep the kind of notes and records that serve you in taking care of your clients and prospects, and use it as a supplement to your memory. Your note about what a contact said about what they need from a solution and how they failed in the past is useful to you. When you can recount what someone said was important to them in future conversations, you project that you cared enough about what they said to remember, something made easier and more certain if you captured it somewhere other than your memory.

Because we are a consultative sales force, we develop deep relationships with our clients, and the records you create provide two types of intimacy, like the example of capturing what a contact said about their preferences about a potential solution. Many of our relationships also become personal relationships. Because your clients are human, they share things about their personal lives with you. Knowing what they care about, their interests, hobbies, special dates, or accomplishments are worth capturing in a CRM.

I promise you that I will require you to use the CRM because we are a professional sales force. But for you to capture the true value of the tool personally, you are going to have to embrace it by making it your own, something that is only possible if you use it to improve how you sell by being able to use the information you have captured to better help your clients and prospects to improve their results. This is why we care about CRM compliance.

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