CRM Is Yesterday's Answer To the Wrong Problem

stevensreeves
Steve Reeves Founder and CEO, Avantrasara Ltd.

Posted on November 27th 2012

CRM Is Yesterday's Answer To the Wrong Problem

Why doesn't CRM work? Because its an answer to the wrong problem. Another heretical thought from the people who suggest sales managers need to change just about everything.

Of course, that's nothing to do with the technology, and everything to do with the way its used. It's the bean counters' tool for controlling sales people.

The original sales pitch for CRM was really quite innovative, and engaging, and very attractive to the big software companies who'd max'd out the ERP market with solutions for the Millennium Bug problem. The consultants loved it too. It was a new way of keeping the gravy train running, with big companies spending
even bigger budgets on software to fix problems they didn't understand.

Understand more about your customers. Get on top of sales. Make your business more predictable. CRM is the answer.

In all too many cases CRM has been simply about collecting information from the sales team about how hard they were working, and where they were getting it wrong. And that's why it's yesterday's answer to the wrong problem. Today's problem is the sales people don't have systems to help them do a better job in the new paradigm.

In today’s flatter, faster world, prospects are smarter and better informed. They’re suspicious of claims made by sellers, more demanding of personalised offers, insistent on controlling the relationship. Vendors must know what will make the customer happy, prove how they’ll deliver it, and do it at a price which can be paid.

Sales managers need to evolve from lion tamers into engineers, with resources, strategies and processes which can be continuously improved.Sales people need to evolve from robotic drones into intelligent
capable entrepreneurs – business people who can develop value adding and sharing relationships with customers.

The sales model needs to evolve, targeting the right prospects, defining a scope of delivery, planning and executing a process through which both buyer and seller agree what will work for both parties, and how that will be achieved, and paid for.Businesses need to evolve. Instead of simply making product because they can, they need to offer value propositions customers want, and can be delivered. They need a sales strategy
to decide which offers are put to which potential customers, and how. They need a sales process which minimizes the cost of sale, by not selling to those unlikely to buy.

They need ‘business people’ sales guys who can collaborate, negotiate and manage. And they need to measure the results, and find ways to improve the efficiency of the process. They need a continuous cycle of improvement – just like the engineers in the factories.

And the sales people need systems to help them do it, not software which helps beancounters measure the wrong numbers. Why doesn’t the traditional approach to selling and sales management work so well any more? What can the modern sales professional do to stay relevant in today’s customer driven
markets? Check out our eBook Reengineering Sales Management for ideas on how to embrace the new order of customer driven buyer/seller relationships.

stevensreeves

Steve Reeves

Founder and CEO, Avantrasara Ltd.

Consultant, author of eBook Succeeding in Sales Management, software entrepreneur, business development professional, aspiring saxophonist, busy publishing insight and ideas at http://frontofficebox.com Proud father, and grandfather doing my best to help everybody around me. Boomer turned Zoomer - thirty year sales professional with experience selling everything from debt collection to outsourcing and milking machines to mainframes.
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Comments

Interesting take on CRM and its relevance . Just read a whitepaper on social CRM and how it can supplement an existing CRM to connect with customers better offering a significant advantage to companies. Readers will find it interesting @ http://bit.ly/UDUptM

Thanks Steve! You've hit a really interesting point when you said:

"Sales managers need to evolve from lion tamers into engineers, with resources, strategies and processes which can be continuously improved."

I wear a sales manager hat at the marketing and brand management firm Outspective and I'm putting a lot of what I've learned in Engineering School to use. Our clients require custom solutions. This requires us to go through the same design process when creating a website or logo that was once only thought to be relevant for roads and bridges. In fact, the individual salespeople can become engineers in their own right.

The sales team is an integral part of this design process. Our salespeople actually help clients to shape their vision so we can bring a more concrete plan to the creative team. One advantage of this approach is that when our clients come to us for "a website" or "a logo" we allow them to become part of the design process. This makes them feel like part of our team.

The idea of rushing for a close before a competitor comes to them with a better price has been replaced with the notion of building something unique together that there is no competition for. The preliminary design is created by a team consisting of the salesperson and the client. Of course, this requires that our salespeople know a lot about our services and our capabilities. It is a sales manager’s responsibility to make sure that salespeople are educated enough to educate our clients.

Empowering salespeople to be creative in the design process empowers clients and brings them on board without the need for high pressure tactics. This is like when you go to a sub shop and the person behind the counter starts asking what kind of bread and toppings you want as they build the sandwich. There is little doubt that when you reach the register, you will be paying for that sandwich you ‘ve just created for yourself.

A sales manager's role has always been to encourage and support the sales team. This has traditionally been done with tactics like inspirational speeches, tweaking numbers to allow discounts and coming in personally to close large accounts.

While supporting and encouraging the sales team will always be the role of a sales manager, there are new forms of support for a company engaged in digital marketing.