I was talking with a colleague recently about why so many small and medium-sized companies have expensive Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, but then fail to use them to their full potential (or even 50% of full potential).

Well, there are three reasons companies underutilize their CRMs: Poor Planning, Poor Communication, and Poor Execution. Let’s take these one by one.

Poor Planning: Whether you’re installing a new CRM for your sales team or have one you’re now trying to use more effectively, begin by looking at your CRM Plan.

What should your CRM Plan include?

  1. The purpose for using the CRM in the first place.
  2. Input from your sales team as to how they can best use CRM to your intended purpose
  3. Key talking points communicating to the sales team a WIIFM (What’s In It for Me) message
  4. 100% Clarity on usage expectations among reps and managers

Poor Communication: Try building lines of communication about CRM early on. Ask your reps, “What ways will our CRM help you be more successful?” Asking reps how they envision using CRM to help them and aligning their interests to your company’s interests is critical.

Working directly with reps will not only some generate good ideas but will also build rep buy-in since they see they’re an important part of your CRM Plan. Plus, listening to and incorporating the needs of your sales reps gives you the opportunity to let them know what you need from them in exchange.

Good communication means reps and managers build and use a CRM that is mutually beneficial.

Poor Execution:  

Most CRM systems are complicated, busy, and distracting for its core users of sales reps and managers. They demand too much of the rep’s time which would be better spent selling.

CRMs themselves are partly to blame for this. Robust reporting in every CRM on the market today is but one of many examples. Combine robust reporting functionality in CRMs with our natural tendency to overengineer things and what’s the result? Reports and trended data revealing unimportant metrics that bring nothing of value, waste time, and shift our focus from what matters.

One of our clients went from 27 KPIs to 3 KPIs in three months and never looked back. Remember: just because we can run reports and track dozens of KPIs doesn’t mean we should. Streamlining your KPIs is more effective and drives sales productivity but getting there requires discipline.

The three factors leading to poor CRM utilization, Poor Planning, Poor Communication, Poor Execution, are significant and should be addressed with your new CRM mantra: Simplify, simplify, simplify.

Disciplined focus on the most important elements of your sales team’s success, including several key metrics and accurate and simple deal tracking is possible. How?

Develop your new CRM Plan focused only on what matters and strip out everything else. Do this mercilessly. Get rep and sales manager feedback and buy-in. Communicate expectations clearly and frequently.

Good luck and contact us if you have any trouble along the way.