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Successful CRM Implementation #3: Make It Work

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In this installment, we’ll take a look at the remaining steps to a successful CRM implementation, starting with your processes.

Hone up the Processes

Process is intrinsic to CRM systems—they live and breathe through process. But these are not processes based on moving paper around from desk to desk, these are electronic processes that move around instantaneously on a computer network. Existing processes will inevitably need to be tweaked or changed before the CRM project gets underway, and new ones will need to be developed to take advantage of the technology. The better and more freely-flowing the old process, the easier it is to duplicate it on the computer.

Bring the groups together that are responsible for processing all of the customer’s transactions and look how information flows between them. Is it efficient, and does it work? How will it work when the computer is pushing digits instead of people pushing paper? When you try to move a paper system to an electronic one, current problems will surface very quickly. Moving to CRM provides an excellent excuse to get on a new page and to fix the disruptions, road blocks, and delays caused by established bad or poorly-defined practices.

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Successful CRM Implementation #2: Develop the Plan

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Even before the CRM system is specified, researched, and purchased, there should be discussion amongst all the functional groups within the company that might be impacted, and that will be pretty much the entire company. In these discussions, the previously defined vision will begin to permeate through the organization. Just like any project, if there is no plan to translate the vision and change into a working system, things are bound to go awry.

The plan will include an overview of what has to be fixed and a detailed operational description of how and when to do each step. Key people will be assigned as stakeholders and will take charge of the piece of the project that they control or influence. Goals must be set, expectations must be aligned with real tasks, and measurement criteria has to be identified and assigned.

These can vary in scope depending on their expected impact. A sales manager may set down the goal of having an accurate day-to-day bookings forecast available. Someone in sales administration may want to see clean customer information in one place. A CEO may demand real-time information about, well, virtually anything. CRM is so all-encompassing that each company will have its own unique set of aspirations. The important thing is to get them written down in a plan. That is the only way the success of the project can be monitored.

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Successful CRM Implementation #1: Getting it right first time

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Over the years my team has been involved in a large number of CRM implementations to all types and sizes of company. I think we’ve done a good job overall. One reason for this is our CRM technology was developed for running our own sales distribution company – we learned on the job.But still, today, over twenty years since the idea of CRM was first developed lots of CRM projects are failing or not getting the traction they deserve.

The next four posts are from material we wrote a few years ago, tuned up for changes that have occurred since then (although there haven’t been many.)

If you are just getting into CRM or having a rethink on how your current system is working these posts will be of interest.

Keith Thompson
Sept 13, 2016

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“When will it happen?” – Critical question deserving careful thought!

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Salespeople have to be able to predict when sales will happen, it’s an essential part of the job, and it’s referred to as forecasting. Businesses need to know what is lying ahead and salespeople are best suited for determining that. But, as any salesperson will tell you, “it ain’t easy.”

In our ASPEC sales methodology we use a couple of issues to determine probability of winning the order.  On one side we look at the confidence of winning. That involves gut feel about ability to beat the competition, whether the product to hold its own, and of course the price. I always think of product spec and performance coupled with price to represent value to the customer.

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Baseball, Big Data, and Selling.

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A while ago I wrote a post on Sabermetrics which us using baseball statistics to make strategic decisions in improving a team’s performance especially when it came to individual performers. This was the subject of the story in the movie “Moneyball” staring Brad Pit. My post was how to use some of these ideas in building sales teams.

Now there is another book that discusses the role of Big Data in baseball.  (“Big Data Baseball ; Math, Miracles, and the End of a 20yr Losing Streak,”  by Travis Sawchik. This idea takes Sabermetrics a bit further and looks at the idea of sifting the huge amount of Big Data that has amassed in baseball to make long range decisions on a Club’s success rate.

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Managing the Bigger Sales Picture

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Selling is one of those professions in which the gauge of success is assumed obvious. Selling more product is a sure way for a salesperson to get recognition and financial reward. It’s no surprise then that an industry has arisen around teaching salespeople to sell more effectively. If salespeople or sales managers are looking for sales education, then it’s easy to get it. There are an abundance sales gurus ready to teach their own spins on selling, with a plethora of books, videos, programs and systems to back them up. But only a few have come up with the ground breaking thinking that reshapes the way people sell – they can be counted on the fingers on one hand.

I see one flaw in most sales training. The focus is on getting things right in the selling experience in a single opportunity. How to listen? How to ask questions? Making sure they are the right questions. Sure, this is important – direct conversation with the customer is the essence of selling. But a salesperson has more than one opportunity to sell. They can have a large number of ongoing deals that a vying for their time – I know cases where a salesperson had over one hundred open sales opportunities. That has to present a huge challenge for resource management especially in creating as much time for direct customer interface as possible.

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More About The Sales Cycle

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In a post a few weeks ago (you can find it here), I talked about the confusion that salespeople and sales managers are having with defining their sales cycles. I hope this post can clear that up a bit.

The sales cycle is all about time, and as time is the most precious resource the salesperson has, time management (as it applies to sales opportunity management) is essential to successful selling.

Sales cycle is one of the most commonly used terms in sales, but often misunderstood. The sales cycle is simply the length of time the salesperson takes to sell something. The sales opportunity has a beginning and an end. The time in between determines the sales cycle.

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What is Sales – A View From An Expert?

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I’m reading a good book called Zero to One, written by Peter Thiel, one the guys who founded PayPal. My life was changed by that app – my wife would agree.

Peter includes a chapter on sales which looks like it’s written for people in business who don’t understand sales – to the extent that in their business sales does not exist.

For instance:

“The most fundamental reason that even businesspeople underestimate the importance of sales is the systematic effort to hide it at every level of every field in a world secretly driven by it.”

Wow! A very elegant statement of a phenomenon that, after many years in sales, I continue to run into.

“The engineer’s grail is a product great enough that “it sells itself.” But anyone who would actually say this about a real product must be lying: either he’s delusional (lying to himself) or he’s selling something (and thereby contradicting himself).”

Engineering companies hate to admit they have salespeople. A consultant friend of mine in Germany has a large contract to help ease a large construction company into the idea that they should build a sales department. They realized this after too many competing companies taking business from them.

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What is the start of the sale cycle?

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I saw this discussion on the AA-ISP site just recently. It’s an ongoing issue with salespeople and managers, and especially so since metrics have gained so much dominance in the sales process.

The real problem is that unless you have a consistent, realistic estimation of when the sales opportunity begins, the sales cycle starts, or your favourite expression for this event, you can’t do any reliable analytics on the how long it takes to sell something. And getting the whole team to abide by the same definition is very difficult.

Back to the AA-ISP forum. The question was this:

“What do you consider the start of the sales cycle? For instance, we have a Sales Development Team and Account Executive Team. Our Sales Development Team will outbound call/email out to a pool of ~10,000 potential prospects (cold) and schedule demos for our Account Executive team. Would you consider the sales cycle to have started at first contact? when the demo is scheduled? or when the Account Executive holds the demo?”

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Any Salespeople For Tennis?

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I played tennis when I was a kid. I liked it a lot. I preferred one-on-one sports to team stuff. I don’t play now, but I watch the big stars playing, mostly because my wife loves those guys.

I once wrote about the important of statistics in baseball, with a view to applying that way of doing things to sales. Indeed, metrics have now become one of the hottest topics in selling. Tennis is a sport wrapped up in stats too. One number that has always interested me describes the importance of the first serve in the game.

Novak Djojovic wins 87% of his service games (where he serves first against his opponent.) So if you want to beat him you had better be prepared to break his serve. The thing is, advanced players can do lots of sneaky stuff with that first serve, and their opponent usually doesn’t know what’s coming. The opponent has to take a defensive position. A good first serve can determine the positional and strategic flow of the game – in favor of the player who made it.

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