Top 4 Questions, 2 Words of Advice about Sales CRM

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 17, 2014 @ 07:02 AM

demoA company's executive team can have a positive or negative influence on the performance of the sales team.  Each member of your executive team can impact sales in some small, or not so small way.  Today, I want to talk about Chief Technology Officers, VP's and Directors of IT.  At first glance, you might not think that IT has much of an impact on sales and you would be correct.  However, they do have a significant role.

Let's take a stutter step and use Application Engineers as an example.  When AE's are introduced into the sales process, many of them want to take over.  After all, they are the experts, right?  A best case scenario for using an AE is for them to speak when asked to speak, address only those questions asked, make sure that the customer sees that the fit and function will exceed expectations, and return to silence.  It's not so much that we need to teach AE's how to sell, as much as we want to teach them what their role is in the sales process and how to stay out of the way, until their expertise is required.   

Back to the Senior IT leaders.  When companies are considering and selecting CRM applications, the choice needs to be made by the people who will be reviewing the data on the dashboard, reviewing the reports and holding salespeople accountable for using the application.  Consider the following:

  • The application is hosted in the cloud - not on the client's server or the employee's desktop.
  • The information in the CRM is typically not sensitive company information.
  • In most companies, the CRM application can stand on its own and does not tie into other systems.
  • CRM applications are prolific and, if choosing carefully, out of the box capability is good.  IT does not need to design and program a proprietary system.
  • Most issues with CRM revolve around customization and user friendliness - not compatibility - and again, when you choose the right CRM, neither of those should be issues.

So why is IT getting in the way when it comes to CRM?  The following are some of the explanations I have heard:

  • "My CTO doesn't like this application."
  • "IT doesn't have time to support a move to a new CRM right now."
  • "The IT Director is concerned about security."
  • "IT believes this will require too much support on their end."

In most cases, IT shouldn't even be involved in the selection of today's CRM applications because they are hosted in the cloud and require no local IT support.  In this case, the way that IT should support Sales is by staying out of the way, like an application engineer in the sales process.  Let Sales choose the application.  Why would anyone care which application IT likes?  They're not going to use it, review it, coach from it, hold anyone accountable to it, train anyone to use it or customize it.  They might not have to do anything except maintain a list of users and passwords.

They should go back to running the IT department.  Keep the servers running.  Keep the users happy.  Keep the software updated.  Make sure there is enough storage space.  Prevent viruses from disrupting work flow.  Help users with usability issues.  But please don't try to select CRM for us, OK?

Better yet, let an outside sales expert, who knows your company and has familiarity with all of the CRM applications on the market, recommend an application for you.  When you look at CRM's, you can watch their demos, live and recorded.  "Look at everything it does - wow!"  But the demos do a great job of hiding customization requirements, functionality issues and usability challenges.

The 4 biggest questions should be:

  1. How much money will you have to spend to get it to do what you need it to do?
  2. How difficult will it be to get your salespeople to embrace it and live inside it?
  3. What will it take to get your sales process, timelines, milestones and labels integrated?
  4. How long will it take to get the dashboard to report what you want reported?

In most cases, the people who know the answers to these questions and can be truthful about them, are the sales experts from outside your company.  Not your IT people, and certainly not the developers of the CRM applications.  And it's not your job to become an expert on all of these applications - that would take up dozens of hours of your valuable coaching time.

Get IT out of the way - it's not their problem or responsibility.

Get a sales expert in there - we'll know what to recommend.

And for crying out loud - stop attempting to protect the investment you made in a CRM application that was a mistake!  It cost a fortune, has features you aren't using, is so complicated that you can't get your salespeople to use it, and costs another fortune every time you want to tweak it.  Cut your losses and just move to an application that will work out of the box!  

Chris Mott wrote about the role of the CFO in driving sales and Dennis Connelly wrote about the HR Director's challenge in supporting sales.

This is from Verne Harnish - The Growth Guy: Free 19th Feb 2pm Webinar -- Dave Kurlan, author of Baseline Selling, is founder of the #1 sales assessment tool in the world. We're hosting his 48 minute "Baseline Selling" online seminar for free Feb 19 at 2pm (2pm YOUR time wherever you are in the world). Note, the first few minutes are quite basic, as are the first steps in any sale process. However, as the sales process moves toward closing, the logic of Kurlan's 4 steps become increasingly important. Every time I watch his seminar it reminds me of some key selling point that is worth listening to the entire program - I picked up one idea that helped me land a significant contract last week (I play it in the background while I crank through email). This is the start of a bi-weekly complimentary executive education series we're offering insights readers through 2014. Let this free growth series drip irrigate ideas into your brain. Here is the link, then

  1. Sign up at the event registration page (name, last name, email, and phone).

  2. You will receive an email with a customized link

  3. On the day of the event click or copy/paste the link from step #2 and that's it.

NOTE: it will air for free from 2pm - 2:48pm 19th Feb whatever time zone you're in. Otherwise, there is a small charge if you want to watch it any other time. 

Register for Leading the Ideal Sales Force Part 2, on March 12 at 11 AM ET.  (Here is a link to the recording of Leading the Ideal Sales Force Part 1 in case you were unable to attend. 

 

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, verne harnish, CRM selection, CRM Application, Sales integration

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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