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Is Your Sales Force Being Sabotaged By Your CRM?
This is a guest blogpost by Lisa McLeod originally published by Forbes.com. Lisa has appeared on the NBC Nightly News, the Today Show, Oprah.com and Good Morning America. She is the author of several bestselling books on business leadership, sales, and personal development.
Imagine two competing salespeople about to make a call to the same customer.
Salesperson A and Salesperson B do the exact same thing before they go into their respective meetings: review the customer’s information. As they scroll down past the customer contact info, the two salespeople see different things on their devices.
Salesperson A sees the projected revenue for this customer, and the anticipated close date that he promised his boss.
Salesperson B sees five boxes labeled:
- Customer Environment
- Customer Goals
- Customer Challenges
- What success looks like for this customer
- What lack of success looks like for this customer
Each box contains a succinct summary of the information Salesperson B has gathered on his previous sales calls. Ask yourself:
- Which salesperson is going to make the better sales call?
- Who is better prepared to discuss the customer’s most pertinent business issues?
- Who is going to do a better job of aligning the solution with the customer’s key goals?
The answer: Salesperson B.
Now let’s take it a step further. If you were the customer, which screen would you rather have a salesperson looking at before making a call on you? The answer is obvious.
Salesperson A might not be a bad representative, but his CRM system set him up for mediocrity.
Why Most CRMs Promote Sales Mediocrity
Sadly, Salesperson A, with his revenue and pipeline-oriented CRM system, isn’t the exception. He’s the norm. His system set him up to make a mediocre sales call because the CRM focused him on information important to his company (pipeline, revenue projections, close date, etc.) versus information that is important to the customer.
Without being prompted to focus on the customer’s goals and challenges, Salesperson A will simply provide a generic description of his products and services, and hope he closes the deal.
Salesperson B’s CRM system set her up to make a customer-focused sales call. By putting information about the customer’s environment, goals, challenges, and success factors up front, her system prepared her to connect the dots between the customer’s high-priority goals and her solution.
If the two salespeople’s products and pricing are about the same, the person with the customer-focused CRM will win.
In fact, I’ll take this a step further. Even if Salesperson B (with the customer-focused CRM) is selling a higher-priced product, she’ll still win the business. Salesperson B has a more noble purpose: help the customer.
The Huge Mistake No One Notices Until They Start Losing Business
Several years ago, I was working with a major manufacturing firm that had recently implemented a new customer relationship management (CRM) system with all the bells and whistles.
There was just one problem: the expensive new system hadn’t improved the close rate one bit. They brought me in to figure out why. Turns out, the system captured the information that mattered to the company. But nowhere was there a space to record the information that mattered to the customer.
There wasn’t a single screen or even a box to record the critical information about the customer’s environment goals and challenges customer that should be the centerpiece of good sales call. No wonder the reps were getting a reputation as product pushers. We fixed the problem, by adding critical customer intel to the CRM, and not surprisingly, their close rate went up dramatically.
Here’s the big mistake that most companies make: They tell salespeople to focus on the customer. But their CRM focused more on internal metrics and pipeline management.
Why traditional CRM systems have a chilling effect on sales
Now it’s time for the hard question. Look at your own CRM system, and ask, where is the information about the customers’ goals? If your information is more company-focused than customer-focused, you have a big problem.
A good CRM tool delivers useful analytics and reports. But don’t make the mistake of letting the tail wag the dog.
The ultimate purpose of capturing customer information is to drive more sales. The information you require your salespeople to gather about their customers influences their sales behavior.
Capturing the right information about your customers and pulling it to the front and center of your CRM gives you a huge competitive advantage.
You can be a me-too sales force that says you want to make a difference to customers, or you can be the rare company that actually does it.
So, if you want to be mediocre, keep focusing on your pipeline. If you want to be truly outstanding, choose a more noble purpose and focus on your customer.
Want to find out more about selling with noble purpose? Check out our video and sign up for our upcoming webinar , Engaging Your Sales Team with Purpose and Technology, with Lisa herself on April 24th!
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