When the sales department gets automated, spin-off benefits are high both for the individual and the team, or, at least, they should be. An important thing to get right is to ensure a culture of “sharing”. Sharing plays a big role in the effectiveness in CRM, and by default, SFA projects.
I can see eyebrows being raised? Why should there be a problem with sharing? Well, in business (and remember, sales is the business of doing business), sharing is often something that people find difficult to do—sometimes a major shift in culture has to occur to make it happen. Salespeople are by nature competitive—and have to be. Their financial and spiritual reward depends heavily in individual effort, know-how, and tenacity. Knowledge gained from that is prized, and leveraged for career gain and success.
Salespeople still can get a bad rap for protecting their territorial rights and the information they uncover. It’s taking a long time to dismantle the adage, “Information is power.” The sales team has to understand that information is powerful only if it is shared. Salespeople regard the idea of sharing with trepidation. After all, they are encouraged to run their own show with their own territory and accounts. They maintain their own sphere of influence, and, if the numbers are OK at the end of the quarter, everything is fine. Salespeople develop a protective stance about anything belonging to their “turf” and often won’t share any more than is necessary about what’s happening. This is one of the most common reasons that sales automation projects fail. Previously, not sharing has been easy to do because the technology that makes it easy and transparent to share simply was not there. Now, things are different.
This is why there is so much hype in business about transparency. Transparency is sharing. Social networking depends on sharing, and is rapidly establishing itself as a viable business tool. Sharing is in.
Creating closeness to the customer (CRM) makes it a requirement that all customer interactions are kept, and the knowledge be made accessible to everyone across the organization. This is the way to provide exactly what the customer wants. Marketing can tailor its campaigns to customers with similar interests. Field Service can measure their success (or failure) with ensuring the customer’s long-term commitment to the product. This is only possible if the database can tell us about the customer, what they want most and how they feel about us.
Salespeople are in the enviable position of being nearest to the customer, and they must be the mouth-piece of the customer. If this information is not collected, warehoused, and studied, there will be serious holes in the company’s understanding of the customer—something that can’t be tolerated given that the company is committed to the vision of CRM.
Successful organizations get close to their customers and are passionate about it. Technology can be used effectively in this mission, but technology is only the enabler. There must also to be a culture of sharing built on everyone’s understanding that they can contribute an important “piece of the pie.”