Turning the CRM into a Strategic Tool


I had dinner with a client this past week and we were discussing adoption of his CRM, Salesforce.com. His company culture is that if isn’t in Salesforce.com – it didn’t happen. One of the unique aspects of my position is that we get so much exposure to sales leaders that I am constantly getting little nuggets of information to share. Salesforce.com is a great tool but one thing all sales leaders should know is that poor CRM adoption from the field is the rule – not an exception. It is seen as merely a management oversight device that brings no value to the rep – therefore unnecessary and extra work. With the rules of engagement changing by the minute with emerging technologies – we as sales leaders need to be prepared to equip our reps with the best possible tools available for success.

What we as sales leaders need to do is turn the CRM into a strategic tool to help reps create, win, and grow accounts. Justyn Howard of the Passive Pipeline has written a free e-book: Sell Smarter, Embrace the Sales 2.0 movement to Increase Sales and Outsmart your Competition.  I recommend this a great primer on how emerging technologies can be incorporated into the CRM. It is written from a sales person’s point of view. For a slightly shorter read that is more philosophical I recommend the CEO of Sales 2.0 LLC, Nigel Edelshain’s e-book: Don’t Cold Call, Social Call – Prospect with Sales 2.0 tools and Social Networks.

From a sales management point of view – I recommend Salesforce.com because of its ease of use and wide adoption among sales people. It also has the App Exchange where you can install tools to make the database into the strategic arm of your sales team.

For a CRM to work optimally, it needs to mirror your sales cycle. For example, every natural milestone in your sales process needs to be reflected as a stage in your CRM. Most complex sales have no less than 5 customer-facing milestones:

  • First Call
  • Discovery
  • Proof of Concept
  • Proposal
  • Approval  

Within each stage, we need to come to agreement upon and document the tactical best practices that will move the sale to the next stage. These best practices should be embedded inside of the CRM as reference points or even check points as to whether we qualify out of an opportunity. The Complex Sale offers our GPS RADAR tool off of the App-Exchange which facilitates the critical thinking sales rep needs to create a political, solution, and closing strategy for their opportunity. For our customers that use RADAR as their sales methodology – we transfer the learning from the class room to the opportunity on a deal by deal basis. This tool is embedded inside of the opportunity tab on Salesforce.com.

A new application that I see coming along strongly is InsideView. This tool can be embedded inside of Salesforce.com on the account level to give everything available online, from the blogosphere, LinkedIn, Facebook, and in twitter about the account. My time is cut in half and effectiveness of my research has doubled. That isn’t their pitch – that is my personal experience. InsideView is offering a free version right now that is well worth the time invested.

We also use an e-mail aggregator called Manticore Technology. There are others out there with great integration into Salesforce.com such as Eloqua. When used correctly, these tools place a cookie on the recipients computer that will then track what the recipient did with the e-mail you sent them and where they go on your website. I can’t express how efficient I have seen sales forces become by allowing the prospects themselves to express their level of interest in your service. Inside of Salesforce.com, we have created a marketing activities tab that allows me to see who was on our website and what pages they were on. Their activity is tracked at the contact record.

In conclusion, the world of selling is changing and the change is being wrapped up in a catch phrase called Sales 2.0. On the buyer’s side – information is more readily available and customer experience is easier to come by with social networking. Therefore, sales people cannot use traditional techniques such as leveraging information as effectively as they once did.  What forward-looking sales organizations are doing is embracing this change. As our partner Mike Scher, CEO of Frontline Selling often says, “You don’t have to out run the bear, just the other campers.” The CRM is the great equalizer for sales people in the Sales 2.0 world and its adoption is paramount to their success.


2 Responses

  1. Scott, great content and perspective. You have taken the “mystery” of web 2.0 and sales 2.0 and social networking and shown how it can and should be incorporated into your crm strategy. The strategy of “If you build it they will come” for CRM for sales reps has been clearly proven to not work. You have to give the reps more value than just a big database in the sky. If you remember, my quote above came from the movie, “Field of Dreams”. People flocked to the ball field in the middle of nowhere, at the end of the movie, not because there was a ballfield there, but so the could watch Shoeless Joe Jackson play ball! So, add some Shoeless Joe Jackson to your CRM and your reps will show up!

  2. Scott:

    Good stuff! A sales process is only as good as its ability to stick, which makes the right tool imperative. A CRM tool is only as good as the process it is built on, which makes the right methodology imperative. Keep spreading the good word!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: