CRM is Not Your ServantI was recently on a conference call with a group of salespeople at a company where the owner was considering implementing a CRM system.

During the call, one of the more vocal salespeople in the room asked, “what will CRM do for me?” This one, simple question seemed to be representative of many of the unrealistic expectations about CRM that I have encountered over the course of my career in CRM.

After an extended pause, my measured response was, “well, CRM won’t do anything for you — unless you first put something into it”.

I went on to explain that a CRM system is software that you need to actively engage with. It’s an interactive experience. If you expect CRM to passively do all kinds of wonderful things for you as a salesperson, you’ll be disappointed.

There’s nothing magical about CRM. As a customer of mine once put it, “CRM is just a database with a gorgeous front end”. If the front end and the database structure are designed properly and aligned with your company’s business processes, then there’s a lot you can expect from a CRM system in return for your input.

So, what will CRM do for you? Here are some of the things that CRM will do, provided that it is designed properly and and provided you and your organization put the appropriate amount of effort into its design and ongoing maintenance:

CRM will make you more organized – CRM will let you assemble all your important contact and activity information in once place.

CRM will save you time – A properly designed system will save you from having to look in many different places for important information that you need. CRM will let you update your pipeline incrementally, instead of in the form of a stressful and time consuming “Friday fire drill”.

CRM will improve your prospect and customer relationships – CRM will let you review past conversations and information about a prospect or a customer — and be more informed the next time you call or meet with that prospect or customer.

CRM will prevent you from getting blindsided – If customer service and/or accounting information is integrated with your CRM system, you may be able to save yourself from embarrassment when walking into an account.

CRM will give you more “at bats” – If marketing qualified leads are automatically fed into your CRM system and your share are assigned to you, CRM will give you more opportunities to qualify leads at a sales level.

CRM will improve your selling skills – If you have a complex sales process, it’s been proven that following specific steps in a specific order will improve your chances of closing business, and these processes are embedded in CRM in a user-friendly way — you may actually improve your selling skills over time.

This is just a partial list of what CRM will do for you, as a salesperson. However, if you don’t put any effort into CRM, this is a partial list of the things that CRM will not do for you.

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