We’re currently beta testing an exciting new CRM solution.  Shhhh.  It’s a secret, I can’t tell you who it is yet, but I can tell you they are working their butts off to create a system that will solve what I have identified as the major problems with cloud-based CRM systems.  (If you’re not yet in the cloud, we can have that chat another time.)

Without tipping our cards too much, I’d like to talk a little bit about what led us to this point.

We have an interesting challenge when it comes to CRM strategy.  We work in probably a dozen different CRM systems for our clients, and I’m including Excel and Google Docs in that count.   Without exception, every system we use has some major limitations – even The Big S.  So, everyone comes up with a way to make their system work a little faster and easier for them.

Here at Cold Calls, when we on-board a new client where we’ll be working in their CRM system, the first thing we do is spend some time figuring out how they are (and most often ARE NOT) using their CRM system to support their sales initiatives.   What we’ll usually find is that every sales rep has their own way of doing things – and sometimes that doesn’t even include adding information to the CRM system.  The amount of potential sales revenue a company loses when a sales rep  isn’t required to show his work is pretty hard to measure – but it’s something you should consider.  If your sales reps are only adding their current deals to the pipeline, and not their day-to-day activities, you are asking for all kinds of trouble.  To put it quite frankly, most CRM systems do the opposite of what you want them to.  You buy a solution and you get a problem.

If you have one sales rep, and you’ll only ever have one sales rep, and she won’t ever leave or retire, you probably don’t need to worry about any of this.  If, however, you are a growing company, adding new sales reps all the time, this should be of the utmost interest to you.  Listen up:  with CRM, if you are failing to plan, you are planning to fail.  To get any value out of your CRM investment, you need to ensure that you’re providing your team with guidelines for consistency.  Guidelines that make sense for your business processes, but also guidelines that are going to make your sales reps USE your system.  You want your sales team selling, not entering data for their entire shift. If your sales reps are creating work arounds to get things done faster (not better, just faster) so that they can get back on the phones, your long term numbers are going to take a hit.  Why?  When that rep leaves, their work around tips leave with them.  Will you know that FU6 means follow up in six months?  Or that NN means “not now” and that there is a 6 month follow up scheduled?  Or if they’re not calendaring their follow ups, will you know anything at all about that account?  Nope.  You won’t. So anything that isn’t imminent is lost.

One tip? Here at Cold Calls, we ask our reps to use the same abbreviations for everything.  We have a long list of them, and they are searchable, because we’ve got user defined fields in our systems (ours, and our clients) that are mandatory.   I can search in notes, calls, leads, opportunities, contacts, accounts – all by the same codes to find the same information.  Our potentials are all weighted using the exact same wording and percentages.

If anyone gets hit by a bus on the way to work today, another caller could step right in and know exactly what the state of the union is on any of our campaigns.  Is your CRM helping you or just creating barriers to success?  You might need a new CRM system.  Or just a new system for your CRM.  Give me a call, I love to chat process!