Top 16 Problems with CRM

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 23, 2012 @ 05:10 AM

Yesterday, I wrote about solving the sales performance problem.  Today, I'll write about solving the CRM problem.  CRM is very problematic, not because there aren't choices, but more because companies make bad decisions.  Just a few of the problems with CRM are listed here:

        • Company has no CRM.
        • Company has archaic CRM.
        • Salespeople won't use the existing CRM.
        • CRM doesn't provide management with an accurate forecast.
        • Management doesn't hold salespeople accountable for using/maintaining CRM.
        • CRM requires too much information input.
        • CRM is too slow to respond.
        • CRM is focused on data and accounts rather than opportunities.
        • CRM is not consistent with sales process.
        • CRM is viewed as busy work rather than a tool.
        • CRM is too expensive.
        • CRM can't be accessed via mobile devices.
        • Company wants too much unnecessary information about opportunities.
        • CRM allows salespeople to place prospects in the wrong pipeline stage.
        • CRM is too difficult to customize.
OK, so that wasn't just a few, but you get the idea.  Yesterday, I spent 90 minutes on a conference call with a client (the president, IT guy and 2 sales leaders) and their CRM provider (salesperson, regional sales manager and technical specialist) as they attempted to customize the application, so that it would follow the sales process which I developed for them, and provide an accurate forecast.  That shouldn't be necessary.
Last week, I spent 90 minutes with another client (8 people from operations, sales, customer service and marketing) showing them how CRM could be the answer to their inaccurate forecasts and pipeline reports.  All had different ideas of how much the CRM application should be required to do versus how simple it could really be.
CRM doesn't have to be complicated, expensive, difficult to customize or slow.  It doesn't need to require much data, give salespeople too much leeway or provide inaccurate forecasts.  Simply put, CRM can be everything your company needs it to be and more.  You just have to make a few good decisions:
        • You must already have a customized, formal, structured and optimized sales process in place and, if you don't, have a sales consultant create that for you.
        • You must choose the right CRM application (fast, salesperson-friendly, opportunity-focused using your new or existing sales process; excellent pipeline and forecasting tools, easy to set up, customize and use, etc.) as opposed to choosing a CRM application simply because you recognize the name.
        • Salespeople must understand what's in it for them and why they should embrace it.
        • Hold salespeople accountable for providing real-time updates.
I've reviewed 15 CRM applications (Landslide, Sugar, Oracle, Sales Logix, Microsoft Dynamics, Membrain, Fortuit, FunnelSource, Podio, OppTuna, Pipedrive, PipelineDeals, Act, Goldmine and Zoho) which aren't named Salesforce.com and because clients have had some of these applications installed, they've had to use many of them.  My feeling is that clients need to cut their losses and switch to a productive application, rather than sticking with a failed initiative, just because the money has been invested.  The Boston Red Sox dumped approximately $140 million in contracts this summer so that they could start from scratch in building a winning roster.  You should do the same thing with CRM!
Some things that CRM should be are:
        • An extension of the sales conversation, 
        • Salespeople should live inside the application rather than on email,
        • Salespeople should love it for the visual references which it provides,
        • Management should love it for the pipeline and forecast,
        • The best coaching tool on the planet,
        • Reports should be easy to coax from it and
        • Customizable without extra costs or fees.
So, you now have my 3 lists of bullets.  But what about the explanations and details?  What about examples?  For that I invite you to attend a 45-Minute Webinar on: 
How to Solve the CRM Problem
November 13
10 AM ET
Henrik Öquist, of Membrain, and
We will present the details, explanations and examples to help you implement CRM in a simple way where everyone - salespeople and management - get exactly what they need from CRM.  Please join us! CRM doesn't have to be complicated, difficult or undesirable; CRM can be the single most exciting tool in the sales organization.  You simply have to make the right decisions!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales management, Sales Coaching, Salesforce, Sales Force, crm, membrain

Controversial "Best Time" For Salespeople To Fill Their Pipeline

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jun 21, 2012 @ 15:06 PM

empty sales pipelineThe obvious answer is to make sure that they fill the pipeline when it begins to empty or is getting close to being empty, right?  

Wrong.

If the pipeline is nearly empty today, your salespeople are feeling scared, stressed, discouraged and demotivated.  If awful is how your salespeople feel, then do you really believe that NOW is the ideal time to get them prospecting?  I understand how badly you need them to get the pipeline filled, but from their perspective, and in the state they are in, are they capable?  Will they do it?

If their pipeline runs dry and that isn't the time to ask them to fill it up, then when would be the right time?

You won't like this answer, but it's correct.

Have them fill the pipeline, or in this case, add to it, when their pipeline is already full.  That's when they feel the most motivated, excited, confident, positive, relaxed and successful.  That's when they should look for more opportunities.  That's when they will be most effective and successful.  And adding opportunities to the pipeline is what will prevent them from ever having an empty pipeline.

This works just like the saying, "If you want something done, give it to a busy person."

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Force, sales pipeline, sales competency, sales funnel, Sales Accountability, sales metrics, sales forecast

The Sales Leadership Landscape - A Different Perspective

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 13, 2012 @ 15:06 PM

sales landscapeCEO's are much more likely than Sales Leaders to pay companies in the sales development space for help, yet Sales Leaders are much more likely than CEO's to attend workshops, seminars and briefings.  (Speaking of events, if you are in the Washington DC area, I'll be speaking to a small group of CEO's over breakfast on June 26 at the Park Hyatt.  If you would like to attend, drop me an email and I'll arrange for you to be included!)

Why is that?  

CEO's typically want the help - right now - while Sales Leaders want to learn what they need to do and then do it themselves.  Sales Leaders haven't been trained to provide sales force evaluations and sales and sales management training, develop sales methodologies, selling models, custom sales processes, etc. They don't usually have the skills to effectively do this work and it shouldn't be in their job descriptions, yet many attempt it just the same.

Homeowner landscaping is a good analogy.  Many homeowners take care of their own lawns, plant their own shrubs, trees, and flowers, and maintain their beds and trees.  They get it done and it looks OK, but if you compare their properties to one professionally maintained by a full-service landscaping company (as opposed to a guy who just happens to have a truck and a tractor), you can see the difference.

Consider this algebraic formula:

FormulaSales Leaders are to Homeowners as Sales Development Experts are to Professional Landscaping Companies.  

Both can do it, but one does it much more effectively, efficiently, with more resources, better results and you can see the difference.  With property, it improves curb appeal and increases the resale value of the home or building.  In the case of the sales force, it improves performance, increases revenue, and you can see the impact on EBITDA.  It increases the value of the company.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales management, Sales Force, sales leaders, sales competency, EBITDA

How the Right Sales Leader Can Turn Around Sales Performance

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 11, 2012 @ 22:06 PM

KGWhat jumpstarts sales performance?  Here are the first 30 which I thought of.  Is it:

  1. Improved Selling Skills? 
  2. Change in Attitude?
  3. More Intensity? 
  4. Written Goals?  
  5. Effective Targeting?  
  6. Stronger Motivation
  7. Stronger Desire?
  8. More Pride?
  9. More Determination?
  10. Tenacity?
  11. New Sales Talent?
  12. Training?
  13. Coaching?
  14. Assessments?
  15. Tools?
  16. Accountability?
  17. Competition?
  18. Killer Product?
  19. A Sale?
  20. Buying Incentives?
  21. Performance Incentives?
  22. Optimized Sales Process?
  23. Better Sales Methodology?
  24. Improved Sales Model?
  25. Effective Sales Management?
  26. Ultimatums?
  27. Deadlines?
  28. Better Demos?
  29. Professional Proposals?
  30. Economy?
I was listening to a Boston sports radio show where the topic was on how future Basketball Hall-of-Famer, Kevin Garnett (KG), single-handedly changed the culture of the Boston Celtics when he arrived there several years ago. 
 
Here are ten of the things for which they said he was responsible (in no particular order):
  • Holding everyone accountable,
  • Team dinners,
  • Leading by example,
  • Taking younger players aside,
  • Intensity,
  • Raising expectations,
  • Presence,
  • Physical Play,
  • Attitude and
  • Unselfishness.
The Celtics were a struggling franchise and KG, along with his 10 competencies, led them to an NBA championship and playoff competition each year that he was there. 
 
So is there anything that KG brought to the table that a key sales leader couldn't introduce to his sales force?  Not a thing. 
 
While each of the 30 sales-related items (yes, there are more) listed above are important and some are instrumental, it begins with people who can make a difference.  Do you have the right people?  Do you have people who can step up?  Do you have people who should have stepped up but didn't?  Did the wrong people step up and model the wrong attitudes and behaviors? 
 
One of the biggest mistakes that companies make with their people is allowing or asking the wrong people to take leadership roles on their sales force.  It doesn't have to be a VP, Director or Sales Manager.  Even a salesperson who is well-liked and/or respected by his peers, who doesn't model the right behaviors, skills and attitudes, will have a significant, detrimental effect on the entire organization. 
 
What kind of people problems have you created?
 
How can you fix them?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales leadership, Sales Force, sales leaders, sales competency, people problems, sales issues

Challenges Don't Always Require a Complete Sales Force Makeover

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Apr 19, 2012 @ 07:04 AM

sales force makeoverMany of the Sales Force Evaluations provided by Objective Management Group (OMG) reveal that the company's problems run so deep that they will require a complete sales force makeover.  However, it doesn't always have to be that way.  Sometimes, a single word, question or statement will change how every prospect responds.

In one such company, most of their opportunities were found via inbound calls.  As you might expect, the first question from each prospect had to do with pricing and availability.  Salespeople weren't able to answer the pricing question and continue to keep their callers on the phone.  Selling was very transactional and they had little control over outcomes.

By only modifying how they responded to the price question, they were able to take the first step toward transitioning from a transactional sale to a consultative process.  They began having deeper and wider conversations which led to more closed business.  

The consultative sales process is more than just a sales approach.  When customers buy transactionally, they tend to repeat the same behavior, calling or clicking vendors for pricing, choosing the lowest price or most convenient option.  On the other hand, when customers are sold consultatively, they tend to remain that company's/salesperson's customers by making repeat purchases.  Isn't that a convincing case for transitioning from transactional to consultative selling?

Yesterday I had a discussion with an industry-leading company with 700 people in their sales organization.  Their competitors were closing new business but they weren't.  Why?  Their competitors hired strong salespeople to take away business from the industry-leading company while the industry-leading company was still hiring order-takers - a selection method left over from the days when people lined up to buy from them.  Their ability to make the transition from transactional to consultative selling will depend on several factors:

  1. How many salespeople have the incentive to change,
  2. How many salespeople are coachable,
  3. Which salespeople have strengths that support consultative selling,
  4. Which salespeople can make that change in a reasonable period of time,
  5. Whether their sales management team can drive that change,
  6. Whether they are willing to abandon their current set of non-sales specific competencies,
  7. Whether they have enough time,
  8. Whether they are willing to invest in training and development,
  9. Whether they will make the personnel changes that will ultimately be required, and
  10. Their willingness to embrace a new sales process that supports consultative selling.
The key among the ten factors listed above is #5 - Whether sales management can drive the process.  What is involved in driving process?
 
  1. Creating a proper sales coaching environment,
  2. Mastering the coaching skills to support the consultative selling skills training,
  3. Holding their salespeople accountable to the desired changes,
  4. Making the time to coach and hold salespeople accountable each day,
  5. Learning to recruit salespeople who already possess the ability to sell consultatively,
  6. Embracing the change,
  7. Ability to replace salespeople who aren't successfully making the transition,
  8. Motivating their salespeople during a time of challenging change,
  9. Staying 5 steps ahead of their salespeople in the mastery of consultative selling skills, and
  10. Leading by example.
You can jump start your ability to handle these 10 factors by attending my Sales Leadership Symposium next month in Boston.  If you would like to attend, send me an email for preferred pricing.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Sales Coaching, Sales Force, sales management training, sales leadership training

Some Salespeople Possess This Non Stop Sales Motivator

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jul 11, 2011 @ 06:07 AM

motivationMore than three months ago, I posted this article about Money Motivated Salespeople Being a Dying Breed.

I wrote that Objective Management Group would be retiring the Money Motivated finding in its assessments, to be replaced with three findings:

  1. Total Motivation
  2. Extrinsic Motivation
  3. Intrinsic Motivation
I described the important distinctions between numbers 2 and 3 and provided examples.
Last month, I was working with two of Objective Management Group's partners, Paul Lushin of Lushin and Associates, and Steve Taback of TEM Associates, along with their teams of sales development experts.  They brought it to my attention that we may have missed a subtle but important example of Intrinsic Motivation: people who are out to prove something - either to others or themselves.  They were right.
Those out to prove it to someone, dead or alive, a group of someones, or some very specific someones, may be even more motivated than those who we have always recognized as extremely money motivated.  Ironically, at the start of my sales career and during the early years of my sales development and assessment businesses, proof was my primary form of motivation!
People with something to prove may be out to prove it to themselves, you, their colleagues, those who said they couldn't sell, those who would like to see them fail, or those who might be threatened by their success. Some might even be trying to provide something to someone who has passed and won't ever be able to say to them, "Well, you did it and I'm proud of you!"  That last example is the double edged sword.  While it provides eternal sales motivation, the individual on that mission may be somewhat messed up....
Do you have anyone on your sales force that isn't motivated by the usual methods but may something to prove?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Force, Motivation, sales assessments

What Are Sales Intangibles?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 15, 2011 @ 21:02 PM

intangiblesOnce in while an individual will fall outside the normal range of assessment results.  That usually means either one of two things;

  1. Their performance was significantly better than how they assessed;
  2. Their performance was significantly worse than how they assessed;

Let's focus on the first example where a salesperson does not assess well, but has performed well.  When a client lacks obvious reasons for this scenario then there are times when we might say that this salesperson has intangibles.  Last week I was asked for three examples of intangibles and I thought I would share them here:

Example 1:  A high-end insurance agency – we said that one of the 24 top producers was the weakest of the their top 24.  He was actually #1.  So how could OMG, the most accurate and predictive assessment on the planet, be wrong?  Intangibles.  It turned out that he had a TEAM of people helping him sell.  Someone else made calls, opened doors and scheduled appointments; another individual did the closing, and he got the credit.  Those are intangibles – they can’t be duplicated and you can't expect to generate results like that from anyone else with an assessment that looked like his.

Example 2: In a printing company, the person who assessed the weakest was their #1 salesperson.  How could this be?  It turned out that this individual had been in the industry for so many years and was so well known, and so well liked and so well respected that it completely compensated for his lack of selling skills and incredible set of sales weaknesses.  Think Jack Black, Will Farrell and Kevin James.  They can't act for shit but they're making millions! Those are intangibles – they can’t be duplicated and you can't expect anyone else with an assessment like theirs to be equally successful.

Example 3: In a technology company, the person who assessed the weakest made President's Club.  Management was aghast.  how could this be?  Well it turned out that this person had never made quota until this year.  What was different this year?  One - huge - account.  And he got credit for it even though his manager found, drove and closed the business.  He was weak, unskilled, disruptive and otherwise useless but more successful (last year) than anyone else at his company.  Those are intangibles – they can’t be duplicated and you can't expect anyone else with an assessment like theirs to be equally successful.

Intangibles aren't the norm but they do happen.  They raise important questions about what to practice.  You should practice what works MOST of the time even though some people/companies practice what works only SOME of the time.  Can you think of an example?

How about closing?

Some salespeople chase people who need to think things over (any length sales cycle), believing that they'll eventually buy because somebody else did one time three years ago.  Great salespeople know they get only one chance to close and if they don't close at their one, ideal closing opportunity (any length sales cycle) then it was unlikely they would close that business at all.  That's practicing what works MOST of the time when the opposite practice provides little chance for success.

Do you have any salespeople with intangibles?

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Force, sales force evaluations, sales assessments

Top 10 Outcomes When Salespeople Screw Up Selling "Value Added"

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jan 25, 2011 @ 11:01 AM

Value Added Selling is a wonderful thing - sometimes.

First there is the difference between saying you are a value added whatever, then there is whether you actually DO add value, and lastly the biggie, whether your salespeople can actually SHOW value in what they are selling. That's the only part that really matters - whether your prospects/customers/clients are convinced there is value in your offering.

What happens when your prospects/customers/clients aren't convinced?

They attempt to purchase your product WITHOUT the value-added piece.  Not only is the value added service more profitable, but it's usually the piece that helps your customer get value from the product they bought.  And what happens when your salespeople don't sell the value?  Here are the top 10 Outcomes that occur as a result of weak, untrained, unskilled salespeople who suck at selling value:

  1. They don't get any business at all.
  2. They only get the product side business.
  3. They only get the low-margin business.
  4. They are seen as vendors, instead of partners or trusted advisors.
  5. Customers aren't as happy with the product because they didn't receive the service that helps them configure/use the product in such a way that they are delighted.
  6. If there are renewals involved, customers don't renew.
  7. If there is competition for the business, this failure greatly helps your competition.
  8. You lose the annuity this business could provide, if any.
  9. You can't leverage the account for testimonials and referrals.
  10. Your salespeople are likely to repeat this a number of times before you do something about it.

Can you relate to this?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Coaching, Sales Force, value added selling

Prediction for Your Company's Sales Force in 2011

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Dec 17, 2010 @ 06:12 AM

10 Sales Experts were inducted into the Top Sales Hall of Fame at yesterday's Top Sales Awards event.  They include legends, both living and deceased, like Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracey and Earl Nightingale.  Current legends like Gerhard Gschwandter and Jeffrey Gitomer were honored.  Others who were inducted include Keith Rosen, Bill Brooks, Linda Richardson, Neil Rackham and Dr. Tony Allasandra.

When asked for her prediction for 2011, Linda Richardson said, "Clients won't be looking for sales training.  They want sales force transformation.  They want to know whether they have the right people in the right roles..."

Thank you Linda!  A Hall of Fame sales training company leader saying what I've been saying for 20 years! 

Linda's comments were not really a prediction though.  Jim Collins wrote about how great companies focused on having the right people in the right seats in his 2001 book, "Good to Great". Objective Management Group, founded in 1989, has been helping its partners provide sales force transformations via the insights and findings from its Sales Force Evaluations and Sales Candidate Assessments for at least 10 years. Years ago I urged all of our partners to provide sales force development instead of sales training so that we could transform sales forces. Perhaps Linda was simply suggesting that she expects to model her business after ours.

This sounds very similar to when mainstream MD's write breakthrough articles and basically say what alternative MD's have been saying for decades.  Three examples are, "Supplement with Omega 3's", "Those prescrtiption drugs will actually kill you", and "Supplement with CoQ10".

Time to take the supplements - I'm against the clock.

Topics: sales training, Sales Force, Neil Rackham, Jeffrey Gitomer, Linda Richardson, Gerhard Gschwandtner, Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracey, sales transformation, sales development

Election Day - Like Decision Making Day for a Sales Opportunity?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 01, 2010 @ 23:11 PM

Vote ButtonNovember 2 is Election Day in the USA when the candidates, along with the rest of us, learn who the big winners will be.  The winner benefits from the work initiated 18 months ago, culminating in a frantic  last minute push to win votes.  The decision that voters make is the result of TV ads, endorsements, testimonials, media attention and most importantly, one-on-one visits between candidates and voters.

Interestingly, this is very similar to the sales process to a large corporation.  An 18-month sales cycle, lots of one-on-one meetings, many group presentations, a frantic, last-minute push and a result based more on the work over the 18 months than anything that happened on decision-making day.

Politicians get elected one vote at a time.  Salespeople win sales one prospect at a time.  The problem is that too many salespeople take shortcuts and attempt to sell prospects in groups.  While it is possible to make a great group presentation, that is not where the selling actually takes place.  Selling takes place one-on-one, and much earlier in the sales process.  The presentation, and still later, the proposal, are simply a formality that leads to getting the business when the selling that was conducted earlier was effective.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, Sales Force, selling tips, election

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight 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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