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This piece is centered on how to ensure that your CRM system is contributing to your success.
DRIVING CRM AND SALES
2© Sales Performance International, Inc
TABLE OF CONTENTS
DRIVING CRM AND SALES
01: ALIGNING CRM WITH SALES IMPROVEMENT
IsYourCRM System Helping OrHinderingYourSales Improvement Initiative?
02: WHO SHOULD OWN CRM SUCCESS?
An Overview Of Stakeholders, Roles And Responsibilities
03: RECOGNIZING AND RESCUING A FAILING
5 Keys To Driving BetterAdoption And Value
3© Sales Performance International, Inc
ALIGNING CRM WITH
IS YOUR CRM SYSTEM HELPING OR HINDERING YOUR
SALES IMPROVEMENT INITIATIVE?
By Ken Cross, Director, Sales Enablement Practice, SPI
Launching a new sales improvement initiative is no small undertaking.
Tinkering with the revenue engine of your company always entails some degree of
risk. Introducing anything new to your sales team requires forethought and planning
to ensure that all goes smoothly.
We have observed that many of our clients misunderstand and
underestimate how changes in sales processes, methods, rewards, training,
or enablement tools can affect the successful use of customer relationship
management (CRM) applications. They sometimes forget to plan for adjusting CRM
to align with these changes. When there is misalignment, salespeople often stop
they are unlikely to fully adopt the changes in behavior that you are seeking because
CRM supports old habits.
According to a study by the Gartner Group, companies are spending nearly
$20 billion on CRM annually, yet the adoption rate, as measured by regular use of the
system, is less than 50 percent. Other studies have been even more pessimistic,
showing CRM adoption rates as low as 26 percent. By Gartner’s calculations,
this means that about $9 billion is essentially being wasted on CRM solutions
to underutilization and related costs. You can’t afford to let this happen in your
So what does it mean to align CRM with sales improvement initiatives
and how do you do it to drive higher adoption rates? We’ve put together a CRM
Alignment Checklist to help you.
Then, consider these four lessons that we’ve learned from working with our clients:
1. Align sales process language and behaviors with CRM workflow
Plain and simple, your CRM system must support reality. You must use the
language in your sales processes to describe your stages, activities, and
verifiable outcomes consistently in your CRM system workflow.
enhancement initiative, so they can develop a clear understanding of
expectations and timing for implementation. Making these changes often
seems straightforward, but there are often unexpected domino effects
that impact reporting and integration with other systems. Your CRM team
needs sufficient time to realign, reconfigure, and test your systems.
2. Illustrate your sales process visibly in CRM
Most companies represent their sales processes as a series of steps
that indicate the high-level stages, flowing linearly from identification to
close, and then sequentially list the activities that support each stage.
Unfortunately, too many companies show their sales processes only
as textual menus, tabs, and links in their CRM system, which can be
overwhelming and confusing to users. About 65 percent of us are visual
learners, so we recommend representing your sales processes visually in
your CRM system to make them easier to learn, understand, and use.
If you represent your sales process as a visual flow diagram, your sellers will
have an easier time navigating the process as they work in opportunities,
4© Sales Performance International, Inc
and thus, execute good sales behavior more consistently. If your CRM
system can’t support visual representations of your sales processes, there
are relatively inexpensive plug-in applications that can help. This small
An example of a visual sales process in CRM
3. Embed sales process coaching and tools into your CRM workflow
Sales professionals will gladly leverage new techniques and tools if they
help them to sell more with less risk and effort. Your CRM system should
become the central hub for sales rep activity and provide access to tools
and resources that improve their day-to-day productivity. Make this easy
by embedding links to supporting resources and tools in CRM, eliminating
the need for a salesperson to search elsewhere when they really need
This is especially powerful when you bring your sales process to life visually
in your CRM system. For example, if your sales process requires the use
of tools such as a call planner or opportunity evaluation checklist, then
provide those tools at the point of the process when they are needed. If
there are coaching tips or examples that make a particular activity in the
sales process easier to execute, then link to those from the recommended
activity in CRM that the coaching impacts. These links can be connected
to help in many forms besides text, such as PDF documents, podcasts,
recorded webinars, and YouTube-style videos.
4. Build more flexibility and responsiveness into your crm system
As we describe in our latest book, The Collaborative Sale, buyer behavior
has been changing rapidly, and you should continuously improve your sales
processes to reflect these changes. Maintaining alignment of your sales
processes with buyer behaviors is key to CRM usage. Fortunately, there
have been many innovations in sales technology that help to support rapid
system changes and easy embedding of new coaching and tools.
Download our CRM Alignment Checklist, and let us know if you would like to learn
more about how we can help you ensure that your CRM system aligns with your
sales performance improvement objectives.
5© Sales Performance International, Inc
WHO SHOULD OWN CRM
AN OVERVIEW OF STAKEHOLDERS, ROLES AND
By Ken Cross, Sales Enablement Practice Leader, Sales Performance International
More than a few of our clients have asked us to help them to fix failed
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) initiatives. When we investigate what
touch many stakeholders in an organization, both within and outside of the sales
function. Unfortunately, many organizations implementing a CRM system forget
to include the right people in the planning process, and therefore, miss important
considerations that impact the overall success of the initiative. When this happens,
ideas aren’t fully thought out and chaos can reign at rollout.
We’ve outlined the major players that we are convinced should be involved
in a CRM project team, and we offer some advice for when they should be engaged
in order to use their time most efficiently.
1. Sales Operations (Project Leader)
Typically, CRM implementation and optimization should be led by sales
operations. Depending on the complexity of the project, they will oversee
the detailed implementation plan and manage the implementation
resources. They are involved throughout the project from conception to
rollout and ongoing performance improvement. Depending on the size of
the sales ops function, there will be power users who will take the lead in
training and supporting end users through rollout.
2. Sales Leadership (Executive Sponsor)
Ideally, sales leadership is the executive sponsor of the system and project
in the organization. Sales leaders should be involved in the early stages of
the project to ensure that the system aligns with their vision for how they
want the sales function to work and salespeople to sell.
Implementing CRM system and process changes can be disruptive, and
the last thing the sales leader needs is a flood of calls from salespeople and
times of the year. The sales leader needs to know when the changes will
occur, resources necessary to bring the changes to life, timing to go live,
and any special preparation or training that the sales team will need. The
sales leader can use the release schedule as an opportunity to reinforce
the importance of the system to his or her team and the organization.
Sales leaders must also know the costs involved, since they usually fund
the system from their budget.
3. Sales Management
Sales managers rely on the CRM system to manage their teams and
generate the necessary reports to roll-up to sales leadership. They
must understand and buy into how the system works and produces the
information that they need to perform their job.
Sales managers play a critical role in the successful adoption of the system,
and a representative number of sales managers should be involved
throughouttheprojectto createa senseof ownership.They shouldalsobe
involved more intensively when changes directly impact functionality and
the reports that they frequently use.
4. Salespeople, Account Managers, Sales Engineers
6© Sales Performance International, Inc
Salespeople should be involved early in the requirements development
process to give feedback on how the solution’s currently configured and
how it needs to evolve. They should also be involved in the testing process
needs in preparation for full rollout to the team.
You will require different sales representations, depending on the
processes in CRM that you are optimizing. For example, if you’re optimizing
an account management process in CRM, then you would want to involve
5. IT Staff
Most SaaS CRMs and sales enablement applications require far less
involvement from IT than previously. However, IT may get involved in the
actual implementation of the solution and program management. They
are definitely involved with data security and integrity, integrating CRM
into other systems, and testing systems. IT may also provide or manage
resources needed for custom programming or reporting.
6. Supporting Functions: Marketing, Customer Service, and Finance
Supporting functions are responsible for ensuring that they provide
information on what the business needs in order to get the necessary
information, such as reports, visibility, analytics, and data. You need to
ensure that those are in sync with the rest of the project. These roles can
vary depending on the scope of the project, but their involvement in the
planning of a CRM implementation is critical.
Although it may seem like there are many roles involved in the CRM optimization
planning process prevents the costly re-work and chaos of a poor implementation.
If you need to make your CRM system easier to use and more productive for your
sales team, we can help you. Please contact us for a risk-free consultation and
download our white paper on effective sales enablement.
7© Sales Performance International, Inc
RECOGNIZING AND RESCUING
A FAILING CRM SYSTEM
5 KEYS TO DRIVING BETTER ADOPTION AND VALUE
By Ken Cross, Sales Enablement Practice Leader, Sales Performance International
CRM systems have come a long way since the early, nightmarish days when
project failure rates were between 50 and 80 percent. According to a recent study
by Capterra, now over 70 percent of users of CRM systems are satisfied with their
However, organizations still face some significant challenges to get
implementation right. Some of the most common reasons for failure include:
• The CRM system is not aligned with how your business runs
but your CRM system uses a different process and language. This causes
confusion, frustration, and workarounds.
• The CRM system is cumbersome to use
CRM companies have greatly improved usability but there are always
opportunities to improve. Some concerns can be handled through user
training while some are more difficult to fix.
• Leadership and sales management haven’t embraced the system
and sales managers and therefore, won’t use the system.
How to get your CRM implementation back on track:
1. Determine alignment with company goals
If your CRM is not supporting the business objectives of your company,
your first task is to determine how to regain or achieve alignment. CRM can
be modified in ways to drive behavior that aligns with your organizational
strategies, whether that is increasing market share, maximizing certain
types of revenue, raising profitability, or other similar goals. Download
this CRM Alignment Checklist to determine how susceptible your current
system is to business misalignment.
2. Survey your stakeholders
If your CRM initiative isn’t getting sufficient traction with your sales team,
figure out why. Start by asking a sample of salespeople, sales managers,
and sales leaders what they like about the system and what they would like
to see improved. Also, ask open-ended questions about the value they see
in CRM (if any), and to describe any benefits that they’ve received from the
system. Leverage insight from your interviews to develop a survey that can
be distributed to a wider user group so that you can then prioritize changes
to improve adoption and value.
3. Synthesize your findings and prioritize your recommendations
Based on the stakeholder survey, prioritize the improvement opportunities
that are most critical for getting the CRM system back on track. Categorize
each opportunity as either a design, functionality, feature, training,
integration, or other issue. Also, figure out the potential fix and associated
costs and efforts. Then, synthesize the value and benefits that people are
realizing from the system so far.
At this point, you should be able to determine if your current CRM system
can be saved or if you should start over. Use the insight from your survey to
make an objective decision.
8© Sales Performance International, Inc
4. Regain leadership and management commitment
Present your findings and recommendations to your leadership team.
Revisit the objectives that they set when they originally implemented the
system and make sure that they are still valid. Then, ask for the resources
you need in order to ensure a successful initiative. If you don’t get the
commitment you need, inform them of the risks of complete failure and
ask again – without leadership commitment, the project is doomed.
5. Get some quick wins, communicate success, and follow through
Once you have commitment and resources to move forward, don’t feel
like you need to make a big announcement and draw a lot of attention to
you and the initiative. Document your plan and start executing. Develop
a regular communication cadence to announce new improvements and
wins, big and small. When possible, use quotes and data from your survey
to demonstrate that you listened and acted on stakeholder input. Develop
a regular training cadence as well, recording and archiving sessions
when possible. Finally, hold your leadership team accountable for their
Recognizing and rescuing a failing CRM implementation takes a lot of will, some
finesse, and maybe even a bit of pain. However, it isn’t nearly as painful as blowing up
an entire CRM initiative and either starting over or shelving it entirely.
If you need assistance making your CRM more relevant to your business, we can
help. Please contact us for a further discussion of your needs. Start by downloading
this handy CRM Alignment Checklist to validate how well your system supports
your sales team and your business.
9© Sales Performance International, Inc
Sales Performance International (SPI) is a global sales performance improvement
firm. We help the world’s leading companies drive predictable revenue and
profitability growth by optimizing sales organization performance.
Founded in 1988, SPI has been the leader in helping global companies apply process
and methodologies to transition from selling products to marketing and selling
high-value, customer-focused solutions.
Our extensive sales performance expertise, deep industry knowledge, global
resources, and verified results uniquely position SPI as the go-to firm for
organizations seeking to gain a competitive edge by how they sell.
than 55 countries and 15 languages to achieve higher levels of sales effectiveness.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ken Cross is SPI’s Director of Sales Enablement, focusing on
advancing sales technology and process automation. Ken is a
frequent contributor to this blog and to industry publications and
WHERE TO DOWNLOAD ASSETS?
01: FREE CHECKLIST
Ensure That Your CRM System Helps, Not Hinders, Your Sales
02: FREE WHITE PAPER
Sales Enablement in the Era of Buyer 2.0
03: FREE CHECKLIST
Ensure That Your CRM System Helps, Not Hinders, Your Sales
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