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Why do we invest in CRM?

It’s an interesting question, and when I pose it to sales leaders and sales ops executives, I tend to hear answers like “to make it easier for our reps to sell” or “to improve rep productivity.”

But the real reason we invest in CRM is actually quite different.

In fact, do me a favor. Close your eyes for a moment (well, at least pretend that you are closing your eyes as you continue to read … ) and imagine that you’ve rolled out your CRM successfully to the field.

With this CRM system, you now have:

  • complete visibility of front-line sales rep activities
  • better and more predictive data

With this information, you can:

  • make more timely decisions
  • shift resources around in advance of market trends, and
  • accurately anticipate revenue flow into your business

I mean, this is nirvana, right? All provided to us by our CRM system!

Now, open your eyes. And take a look at the bullet points above. If we’re honest with ourselves ... these points have nothing to do with making our reps’ lives easier.

Instead, the reason we invest in CRM is simple. We want more control! The promise that CRM offers us as sales leaders and sales ops executives is to give us better control of our sales organization.

But now we need to face reality. Companies that have experienced failed CRM rollouts let their euphoria get in the way of understanding -- and focusing on -- one critical fact.

And that is this: We can only achieve the benefits we so desperately want from CRM if (and only if) our sellers enter and update the right information into the system.

This is where things break down, because the front line views CRM very differently than we do. Why? Because salespeople see CRM as yet another way for their manager (and their manager’s manager, and so on) to inspect them. And there is a certain (and real in some companies) fear that they will be punished with the help of the information they enter into CRM.

This is the great divide between leadership and the field. Leaders see the promise that CRM adoption can provide, while our salespeople only see the perils. We want as much information as we can get to make better decisions, while our salespeople will enter the minimal amount to get by -- just enough to be compliant and stay out of trouble (and to be paid for deals they close).

So how do we solve for this? How can we align our interests to use CRM to have better visibility with our sellers’ interests to make their number? How can we bridge this great divide between leadership and the field? This is a topic for another article.

For now though, a few quick questions:

  • Has this divide affected a CRM roll-out at your organization?
  • How have you managed this misalignment?
  • Are you struggling to get the “right” information into CRM?

If you would like to get in touch about this or any other topic related to sales and sales management, feel free to write me at tdisantis@vantagepointperformance.com or follow me on Twitter @tom_disantis.

Editor's note: This post originally appeared on the Vantage Point Performance blog, and is republished here with permission.

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Originally published Jun 9, 2015 8:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017

Topics:

CRM Adoption