Sales Improvement – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now

In completing many different types of CRM implementations and in several different industries, I have found that there are some opportunities that are consistently missed in many of them.  Implementing CRM is a big change in process, procedures and culture, whether it is a conversion from another CRM application like Salesforce or coming to MS CRM from no system at all. Here are what I have found to be five missed opportunities that are most often forgotten and could have potentially made a positive impact on the sales division and their processes.


1. Implementing Goals Management.  Most times in a sales division, goal management is thought to be a reporting function and either left for a subsequent implementation phase or just forgotten.  There is a great deal of value in looking at goals management in the early planning stages to define what are the CRM capabilities and what are your business objectives.  This will allow you to see past sometimes confusing processes and start defining the metrics your sales team with be measured on before you configure the CRM and create improved process flows.  Sometimes we get caught up in the procedures and process and forget about the results and metrics we really want to measure.  You can ask yourself “What variables really contribute to the success of a rep?”  This time investment allows you to develop a process that focuses on the end game of the CRM and assists in eliminating process obstacles early on.

Goals in CRM


2. Envisioning “What should be” business processes inside CRM: It is always best to envision and plan for how the CRM should work in order to continue to evolve with your changing sales processes.  Many times because of time and overall budget constraints, a CRM implementation project focuses on just getting up and running with a MS CRM solution that can look and act much like the old system or processes.  Clients know they need to change the business processes, but yield to the pressure of not interrupting the sales cycle and getting the system functional as soon as possible.  While this is an understandable and a logical path, the implementation of a CRM system can be infinitely more successful in the long run if it is planned out intentionally and with forethought of your evolving sale processes. Take the time and invest in making the CRM what you want for the future rather than copying the solution from the past.


3. Changing the culture to share information.   I have found that in some organizations there is a desire to set up account/contact security to be overly restrictive in order to “protect” sales representative’s leads and other information from colleagues in the CRM.  In my opinion, this leads to lower overall usefulness and adoption of the CRM when put into practice.  While this is understandable, simply creating security to completely lock out other colleagues is not recommended.  It would be more beneficial to find creative ways to allow the most information to be shared across the entire business unit.  One such way is to allow the other sales CRM users to view basic contact/ account information, but lock down the email/ activities viewing and management capabilities.  Once again, investing time into how to create a CRM environment and to encourage a business culture that shares data and information will go a long way in helping your overall business reach its goals.

4. Workflow Overload: Creating too many workflows to “notify” users to go into the CRM or that alerts the user that tasks are being completed is a fast road to indifference.  Embrace the opportunity to develop a culture where users utilize relevant custom views inside the CRM instead of emailing them outside the CRM.  Sometimes new clients fall in love with the email notification workflow.  This can lead to too many notifications that swamps the end user’s outlook and leads them to start systematically ignoring all emails and communications coming from the CRM.  A best practice is to limit the workflows to just urgent or important needs and start building a culture that encourages the end user to be in CRM for their updates and notifications.    Since MS CRM is integrated with outlook this should be a minor change for them.


5. Data Clean House: Use the data migration phase of your CRM implementation as an opportunity to “clean house.”  Discover what is actually being used, what is actually needed, and what data do you really trust? This is simple, but again with time and budget constraints, sometime clients yield to just getting the data in.   It is best, in my opinion, to take the time to plan the data migration and really validate the data to understand what you actually have.  It pays off in the end because you will have a better overall adoption since your end users will truly trust the data and therefore the CRM.  Also, you will get better overall reporting because you don’t have to build workarounds to filter out data that you know is corrupt.

These are my two cents.  Please look for my next installment, “What I Know Now That I Wish I Didn’t.”