The CRM Conundrum

You might imagine, that as a company called SalesForce Training, we receive a lot of calls from organizations looking for help with getting up and running. Interestingly, our roots are as a pure sales training firm going all the way back to 1984. The name “SalesForce Training” was coined around 1990, about a decade before had even started.

Nonetheless, over the past few years, the volume of calls from users has steadily risen, and given that a market had been created – that of the licensed user who really had no idea how to actually use the CRM tool properly – we decided to take advantage of this and provide quality training and consulting solutions to these customers.

What we’ve learned over the past few years though, is just how misinformed the CRM customer really is.  The reality is that most organizations decide to purchase a slick, new CRM program – not always, but with very little planning on how they’re actually going to use it.

“Our salespeople need training to use”

Well, yes, they probably do. But the advice I give companies, is that you can get all the free training you want by sending your salespeople to YouTube. There are hundreds of wonderful modules on that site, all with crystal clear instruction on how to use this CRM. The problem is, that your sales people don’t really need training, as much as your company first needs to decide how to use, and determine how it can help them.

Here was the dialogue our rep had with a marketing assistant the other day wanting training for their sales team;

Her: We need to train our sales team on salesforce at our annual conference.  We have a two hour window and would like to do it then.

SalesForce Training: Fine, can you tell me which edition of salesforce you run?

Her: Edition?

SalesForce Training: Nevermind. Can you tell me a little bit about your sales process?

Her: Umm…process?

SalesForce Training: Yes – your process.  For instance, after you send out a marketing blast, are the salespeople supposed to follow up with calls to your target customers?

Her: Yes, they should be.

SalesForce Training: OK, great. What are the criteria for who they call first? And how many calls do they make to one particular prospect? And what do they leave on each voice mail. And how many days do they leave between phone calls. And what do they do if they get a gatekeeper, or an actual decision maker.

Her: Ummm?

SalesForce Training: OK. Let’s start with the sales manager. What are the KPIs that she would like to monitor each day. Does she have any dashboards that she’s currently monitoring?

Her: Aahh…I think it would be better if you actually speak with her about this.

SalesForce Training: Yes, I think that’s probably a good idea.

Salesforce is meant to automate your process – not add to the workload

One of the things we always ask potential training customers is, what does their sales process look like, and how do they measure each sales person’s progress, activity levels and/or achievements. At a basic level, that’s what is designed to do. It’s meant to take that company’s sales process and understand what metrics and key performance indicators that different people want to see, so that with the correct input of data, the entire process is automated. This then, provides the sales team with all of the customer information they need, triggers for when events, such as follow-up calls are meant to happen, even making scripts accessible for the salespeople so they have a format for what to say on voice mail #1, voice mail #2, if they reach a gatekeeper or a decision maker.

It also provides salespeople and management with up to date information on what’s happening now with fantastic, easy to interpret dashboards. In essence, its designed to take a company’s sales process, and run it, assisting salespeople and sales management alike, in staying on top of increasingly complex customer and prospect interactions, buying cycles, and decision making processes.

It is not meant to add to a salesperson’s workload, but instead, meant to support them as they navigate their way through their sales process.

The problem is, that many sales departments don’t have this process clearly defined. One of the ways we try to determine what the sales process is, is by asking – “If we put all of your sales people in separate rooms, and gave them a sheet of paper and a  pen, and asked them to diagram the sales process, how many different designs would we get?”  When the answer is – all of them would be
different, and you might even some blank pieces of paper back, well then, we know what we need to work on.

CRM without a defined sales process has another name – Outlook!

Hey, we’re not knocking Outlook. It’s a wonderful email, calendar and contact tool. And we know of many sales reps that use it effectively to keep track of customers, prospects, appointments, follow-ups, tasks, and of course email. But it’s not (or any of the other reliable CRM programs available). And when sales processes get more and more complex, and when the size of the sales team that you need to manage is larger than say, 5 reps, Outlook starts to get pretty limited.

Without a defined sales process though, is simply a very extravagant contact manager. And simply giving your salespeople another program to learn, a sophisticated one at that, will only add to their administrative burden – not to mention adding to their frustration. And if we’ve learned one thing about salespeople, it’s that they want less admin, not more.

That’s why simply training your people on is actually going to hamper your results. You are going to frustrate your people by giving them one more administrative task to complete, as they will most likely continue to use their existing program, in effect duplicating the work and effort. By introducing a new tool to streamline things and make it easier for your team, without defining your sales process and showing your salespeople how to properly execute this process first, you’re actually doing the exact opposite of what you intended.

SalesForce Training & Consulting is a professional services firm and training firm based in Toronto, with training centers in Boston and Chicago, providing sales leaders with the direction and support to ensure they are getting the most from CRM tools like

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