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Show, Don’t Tell: Works for CRM Compliance Too

CRMcivilwarSalesforce.com sells CRM systems so, obviously, they have every incentive in the world to praise them. But even the company’s own blog acknowledges they’re often the casus belli for a simmering civil war between reps and management.

“People who monitor and analyze raw sales data think very differently and have different needs [than] sales reps,” concedes the company’s blog. “Unless the CRM system has been deployed using great care to assure that it will be aligned with the existing sales process, the CRM roll out will precipitate a massive change in workflow. This will be accompanied by an equally massive protest from sales reps.”

If that’s what the folks selling CRMs say, imagine what reps say when you catch them in an unguarded moment. This comment from sales blogger Geoffrey James is pretty representative: “I’ve yet to hear any sales professional say anything good about CRM. Every time I post about CRM, the only salespeople willing to praise the technology are the ones selling CRM.”

So how can these two implacable foes make peace in the great reps vs. management CRM war in the name of fewer headaches and more revenue? Automatically syncing sales emails to CRM, with services like Yesware’s Salesforce Sync, is one answer. Startup sales pro Brian Manning, discovered another possible solution when he served as Senior Director, Business Development at Next Jump. His simple but effective diplomatic maneuver bridges the gap between the two sides — all you need is a meeting invite and a little space on your calendar. Yesware called him to get some details.

Is CRM compliance a problem you’ve run into?

CRM compliance is painful. People don’t like to distract themselves from what they’re really trying to do. Management sees it differently as, ‘we need this data accurate and updated to manage our business and make good decisions.’

lightbulb-momentHow can you bridge the divide?

Rather than let that conflict simmer, bring them together. Take down the barrier and say to the salesperson, ‘Alright, you present to management what I might present to management actually using that tool.’ So instead of being some black box where I have to go give this presentation to our executive team, you do it.

What does that accomplish?

It also empowers the sales rep because presenting to the executive team is cool  – people like doing that. It also gets them thinking on a little bit of a higher level. So rather than just doing their day-to-day sales stuff, they’re actually thinking strategically and thinking about how the executives might look at their business.

Sounds time consuming. Did you ever get any push back?

In my experience executives are very open to it. Not that you do it on a weekly basis but perhaps quarterly, monthly, maybe every six months. I think if you’re not doing it that frequently, executives are willing to make time for it.

Was there a big impact when you tried this?

Definitely. A noticeable improvement in actual performance but also in alignment between what I was trying to do and what my reps were trying to do.

Are you still using this technique now?

I’m on a much smaller team at ZocDoc [now]. So far, we haven’t had the need to do that, but it’s something that worked really well at Next Jump.

Is that a general principle – the larger the team, the more difficult it is to get reps to use the CRM?

teamworkYeah, I think so. The more of a cog in the wheel you are, it’s harder to see the value in what’s being said at the top, so with a larger team, it’s even more important to break down that conflict and just be so transparent: ‘Here’s what I show the executive team every week about you and I’m going to let you do it this week.’

That’s empowering and transparent and aligns people. Because at the end of the day, unless the executives are incompetent, they’re not asking for information that’s frivolous. They have their reasons, but the reps don’t see the reasons, so rather than try to talk them in to it, make them do it.

Any other advice you’d give to managers who are struggling with CRM compliance?

Help people use CRM to manage themselves. Train them on using the CRM to manage their own pipeline and build reports that are valuable to them that are going to make them more efficient and more successful. That also feeds into reports that might be used for management, but make sure that what they enter every day or every week is also to help them.

Tired of being the CRM compliance cop? Learn more about how Yesware can help