3-Step Rx for Overcoming CRM Dysfunction

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“Don’t care if a salesperson isn’t paying attention to the [CRM] system? Then suffer the consequences. The most successful CRM systems are at companies where the system is the culture. Do what’s necessary to help your people adapt. Give them training and support. But in return require them to use the system. Because if it’s not in the system… then it doesn’t exist.” –Gene Marks, Forbes/Tech

The worldwide CRM market (Customer Relationship Management programs like Salesforce.com, Infusionsoft, Microsoft Dynamics, etc.) was $23.2B in 2014, according to a tweet by Forbes. But you’re not alone if you’re struggling with CRM software.

Touted as a solution (the solution!) to increased efficiency and productivity, why is CRM success so often elusive? Forbes’ Gene Marks believes “the problem with your CRM system isn’t usually about your CRM system. It’s about you… the way it’s been setup… the way it’s been implemented. It’s the way it’s managed.”

There seem to be three factors required for CRM success, each of which is required for making any CRM a powerful, effective tool:

  1. Data Input
    Enter sales-related data that is relevant, accurate and current, and do so with consistency and timeliness. This information is the fodder to be used by salespeople to drive their daily activities, and for planning.
    I’ll put in a shameless plug here for the PharmSource Lead Sheet. This lead-generation service is the gold-standard for this Data Input step for CROs and CMOs in the life sciences. It provides event-driven new leads, and offers a CRM Tool to help streamline the process of getting relevant hot and warm leads into your CRM.
  2. Data Output
    Set up recurring accessible reports to measure and track sales activity, RFP status, incoming opportunities, progress of recent activity, lost sales and closed sales. These should be run for each salesperson and for the team as a whole. These reports will be used by sales managers to acquire insight into processes and to provide guidance to the sales team.
  3. CRM
    Ensure that salespeople and managers individually accept–make that embrace–using the CRM as their go-to resource for daily activity and planning. Without this, the data input and output are rendered meaningless.

If any of these three areas are weakly implemented, the effectiveness of your CRM will be seriously undermined. It’s critical to have a strong administrator in place (who should not be an IT person, notes Marks), backed by a senior manager who is committed to doing whatever may be needed to get people to adapt to and, yes, embrace the CRM.

Complaints that it takes too long to enter new leads, or that the CRM is a waste of time, are signals of acute barriers to buy-in. Commitment and action from management are urgently needed to prevent these things from derailing your CRM’s effectiveness. This will drive the training, motivation and adoption of best practices that are the hallmarks of successful CRM programs. Otherwise, says Marks, you’ll continue to suffer the consequences.

To read the Forbes/Tech article on this topic by Gene Marks, click here. To learn more about the PharmSource Lead Sheet, click here or email me at judy@pharmsource.com.

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Judy has been with PharmSource since 1998, and is Vice President and co-owner. She brings a wealth of experience in management, marketing, business development and sales consulting. Judy holds a BA degree from NYU and an MBA degree from Northeastern University.

More posts by Judy Ludwin Miller