How Low Can CRM Go?
I was recently asked to talk to some sales people about why use of good CRM is essential to their success.
I’ve been selling for over 18 years and have used an array of CRM in that time. Only the context of using bad CRM versus good CRM can give people insight into why it is so important.
I was reduced to sharing my low points, with bad CRM, in order to get my point across.
My Personal Bad CRM Story
It is late 90s and I am a young and enthusiastic graduate who has just gained my first meaningful employment with a cool magazine. My role is to sell advertising.
My CRM is a spreadsheet.
It is a list of potential advertisers made up of people who have advertised before and those who haven’t. There is no way to differentiate between them without the prior knowledge. I am in the dark. This gives me a bit of an advantage in some ways because each name on the list is equal. I am going to call the non-advertisers with as much enthusiasm as the existing ones. But I cannot prioritise the list in any meaningful way so I just start at A and make my way to Z.
Of course, there are lots of “she’s not in” and “call back later”. There’s no way to record who I have to call back or when, so I am reduced to filling my PC screen with multi-coloured post-it notes. I learn quickly that when I fail to return a call at the agreed time I am more likely to lose the sale. It’s a breakdown of trust, right at the start of the sales relationship. Not good when sales people are working on a trust deficit from the get-go.
Colour Coded Spreadsheets
I start to colour code my spreadsheet to help me determine success. It’s not a sales pipeline but it helps me monitor what I am doing. Blue means “No”. Pink means “Considering It”. Red means “Booked”. If it is black then I have failed to reach them or talk to them at all. At the end of each magazine sales cycle, the whole spreadsheet is returned to black and I start again.
In my defence, colour coding spreadsheets is about as sophisticated it gets for someone who completed a 4 year degree in English using nothing but a Canon Word Processor. It will be another 10 years at least before I learn conditional formatting, data validation, pivot tables and the likes. Besides, this system is more sophisticated than most of the people in the office are using. Some are still using Rolodex and Yellow Pages.
Bad CRM Makes Good Sales People Do Bad Things
This particular low point which I want to share comes when I call a business owner to find he has recently passed away.
I apologise, mark the line blue, and move on.
Well, every decent sales person knows that “no” doesn’t mean “no”. It just means “not right now”. So with a few days to go before deadline I start calling some of my rejections again to see if I can convince them otherwise.
Yes, you guessed it, I called the deceased person again. When you are calling hundreds of people a week it isn’t easy to remember all the details unless you can record comprehensive notes. Apologising profusely to a mildly annoyed receptionist, I add a big note to my spreadsheet saying DO NOT CALL.
Fine. That is, until I start a new project and the spreadsheet is returned to its original format again – and I over enthusiastically canvas the dead guy….for a third time.
This time I was asked not to call back again. In utter humiliation, the line is deleted from my spreadsheet. I realise the margin for human error with this system is massive – and I am a mere mortal after all.
The Moral of the Story
I can share this story with you because I am confident in my sales ability. I know I am an accomplished sales person. But even an accomplished sales person needs great CRM to acccomplish great things. Back in 1999 I just had a really bad CRM system. In the absence of nothing, it was good. In the absence of good CRM it was AWFUL!
Thank goodness I now use NetSuite and all my processes are automated. I can ditch the spreadsheet, the awful colour coding, the data validation and the cluttered PC monitor.
Rest in Peace Bad CRM
There are lots of great CRM systems out there. Make sure you are enabling your sales people, not holding them back.
To talk to someone about how you can get great CRM into your place of work get in touch
Written by Emma Stewart – Sales Person, User of Great CRM and Sales & Marketing Director at Cofficient. Please tell me I’m not alone and share your bad CRM stories with me too.