October 23, 2009

Sales Systems: Why People Don’t Use Them & What To Do About It

Most companies have implemented some form of sales system (CRM or SFA system). However, few have achieved the promised payback on their investment. One of the key reasons is patchy use of the systems implemented. Indeed, our experience shows that such systems are under-used, or not used at all, by a majority of sales reps, sales support and sales administration staff.

Our clients point to 7 reasons why people don’t use (or at least don’t use properly) their sales / CRM systems. They represent real barriers to achieving the expected sales effectiveness and customer relationship management benefits. These reasons and what to do about them are examined overleaf.

Reason # 1: The wrong system has been implemented / inherited – the system in place does not meet user needs. Typically that means it is:
  • Cumbersome, unsteady/unreliable, or slow
  • Difficult to use (rather than being intuitive and easy to follow)
  • Inadequate in terms of help/instructions
  • Lacks key functionality (e.g. does not have a diary function, no remote access, or does not allow you to enter 8 digit product codes)
  • Does not integrate with other applications that staff must already use (resulting in duplication of effort)
  • Not tailored to the needs of users (e.g. drop down menus, field names, etc. do not correspond to the business in question)

What to do about it: Management should review if the existing system can be improved, or should be replaced.

Reason # 2: The information contained in the system is of poor value – the company and contact information in the system is incomplete, out of date, or not relevant. The system is not being purged, or updated on a regular basis.

What to do about it: Management should institute periodic reviews of the quality of the information in the database. Then provide the administrative resource to purge the data, replacing redundant information with new target lists and contact information, and importing for reps information that is kept in other locations (spreadsheets, outlook address books, etc.).

In addition the automatic capture and assignment to users within the system of web, or email enquiries should be set up.

Reason # 3: The system has been implemented without sufficient user buy-in, or understanding of the benefits (both to users and to the company overall).

What to do about it: Re-launch the system, starting with one small group of users who can most immediately benefit from using the system (or are suffering as a result of not being able to use it) and provide the support to enable them to reap the benefits for themselves. With this group as advocates spread news of the benefits to others.

Reason # 4: A lack of leadership - the system is not being used, or aggressively promoted by senior management (e.g. sales managers, or directors).

What to do about it: If the sales manager is not using the sales database, then he is not in a position to expect anything different from others. He/she has to demonstrate a commitment / competency in respect of using the system. That includes moving from spreadsheet based forecasting and paper-based sales reports, to conducting every conversation with reps or the team by reviewing the relevant account, opportunity or lead in the database.

Reason # 5: Lack of appropriate incentives, where the proper usage of the system is not written into job descriptions, staff and team performance reviews, or linked into the receipt of bonus and commission payments.

What to do about it: Increasingly job descriptions stipulate that keeping sales records, account and contact information up to date in the sales system (including notes of meetings, telephone conversation, etc.) is mandatory. This aspect of job related performance is formally reviewed at staff reviews and moreover payments of bonuses or commissions are linked to the same.

Reason # 6: Inadequate system administration and support to users, including help in terms of lost passwords, user problems, importing lists, organizing mail outs, etc.

What to do about it: Every database or CRM system requires an administrator. But that is not just somebody who can, when requested, set up a user, or change a password.

It is a more active role of reviewing usage levels on an ongoing basis to ensure users have the skills required, that data is being entered in the correct/uniform manner, that neglected leads, accounts, or opportunities are being followed up, etc.

It is also a resource that can pro-actively anticipate and meet the needs or users and teams, such as assisting in the creation of new lists for entry to the database, input of sales letters, proposal and other templates, etc. – all designed to ensure that users can gain the maximum benefit from the system.

Reason # 7: Insufficient, or inadequate training of users. That means not just an intensive one day training session, but periodic training in line with a progressive building of skills, from foundation to expert levels (depending on the specific role and requirements of the user).

What to do about it: The functionality of today’s Sales and CRM systems is impressive, however that means they require higher levels of training and skill on the part of users.

Although salespeople in particular may have little time, or patience for office based training, or indeed may not even admit that it is needed, it is clear that one of the key reasons why sales systems are not used is the frustration experienced by users who have inadequate systems familiarity, or skill.

Office based staff tend to fare best in terms of the training traditionally provided for CRM and sales systems implementation and much of that training tends to be provided up front.

Greater care is needed in terms of providing training to non-office-based staff. Training participation must be mandatory, with certification and providing access to ongoing training and intensive support provided, based on scheduled follow-up between each rep and the system administrator.

When it comes to user training we recommend a 3 steps process to building user skills, including establishing foundation, advanced and expert levels of skills depending on users requirements (see related article/checklist).

1 comment:

april said...

CRM system has its advantages and disadvantages.CRM Systems.What we are going to do is to find ways how to lessen the bad effects of it.