Call it the era of the customer. Technological advancements have enabled businesses to understand buyer preferences better than ever before, and companies increasingly compete by offering tailored services and instant gratification. Free two-day shipping? Of course. Personalized recommendations with a special incentive offer thrown in? Naturally.
CRM systems have played a foundational role in this shift, helping companies collect and transform data into insights so they can offer the holy grail of a differentiated customer experience – something unique and appealing to win that coveted buyer loyalty. Sales leaders know this, which is why they often look at their CRM as the all-in-one solution that’s going to essentially run the sales department and accelerate revenue for them.
It doesn’t work that way, unfortunately. (Don’t we wish it did.) CRM systems are a fantastic tool, but like all tech, they work at the level of the people behind them.
Let’s take a look at why CRMs don’t always meet expectations and what you can do to make yours work.
The staff isn’t on board.
Sales leaders who see the potential for efficiency and power in their CRM often assume their teams will feel the same enthusiasm. Not so fast. While some reps will be excited to store their data and use it to close deals faster, other reps might stubbornly stick to their old ways. They might hoard their data instead of sharing it or claim the whole enterprise eats up too much time.
Solution: You’ll need to sell your team on the benefits of the CRM and help them see the actual time savings that can result from more efficient workflows.
The marketing isn’t up to snuff.
Something great about your CRM tool is that it can help you share your marketing materials and programs with your workforce, motivating them to share them on social media and act as brand ambassadors. But that’s only going to happen if those marketing materials are good. If they’re bland or irrelevant, the best CRM in the world can’t save you.
Solution: Share the sales team’s customer insights – who converted, who dropped out and why – with the marketing department to ensure their campaigns hit the mark.
Actually, marketing and sales aren’t even friends.
It’s an old story but one that still plays out again and again. An unspoken tension or silence exists between the two teams, sabotaging the synergy that should be driving the company sales forward. The sales reps ignore the assets created by marketing and the two teams keep their insights and goals to themselves.
Solution: This is a direct call to leadership, not technology. Sales and marketing leaders need to talk frankly about the problem and foster a culture of collaboration and alignment from the top down.
Business development isn’t happening.
Technically it’s true that CRM systems can spark new business – but they do this indirectly by empowering your sales and marketing teams to create a great brand perception and positive word of mouth from satisfied customers. On its own, the CRM system can’t independently invite a new rush of leads and customers. So don’t drop the business development ball, thinking your CRM solution has it covered.
Solution: Keep prospecting, reaching out and working all angles to keep that pipeline flowing.
The team hasn’t been trained.
You may have a few tech-fluent sales reps who jump into the CRM system and pick it up quite easily. But most reps will be too busy to spend time learning it on their own, or they won’t be tech-literate enough to learn the system. Even those who think they understand it will probably just master a few features instead of maximizing its full potential.
Solution: The entire team will need ongoing training and evaluation to ensure you’re getting the most out of your investment.
The IT team manages the CRM tool.
This is a common mistake. The sales team asks the IT team to evaluate CRM platforms and from there, IT ends up overseeing the use and functionalities of the system. As a result, the sales team lacks a sense of ownership and feels increasingly disconnected from the system. But it’s the sales and marketing leaders who should learn the ins and outs of the CRM without an intermediary.
Solution: Take ownership of the platform and redesign your sales processes to work with your new system – not against it. Then designate a CRM expert and leader who’s accountable for its success.
Misguided expectations have torpedoed more than a few systems with high potential. Avoid the above pitfalls with your CRM system and you’ll have a team that knows how to gain customer insights and satisfy customers, transforming your results.