A short time ago, I had a conversation with a B2B CEO who told me his company didn’t operate a proper CRM system because his sales director couldn’t get the sales force to fill in their monthly reports at the best of times and questioned the wisdom of adding to their burden by implementing a whole new CRM system which they almost certainly wouldn’t use.
Having put to one side all my questions on the efficacy of the sales director, I asked him what, apart from people, was his company’s most valuable asset. He said it was either stock or premises and was surprised when I pointed out that in the long-term his CRM data was far more valuable than either. It would be used to sell his stock many times over and the resulting profit should eventually be many times the investment the shareholders ever made in their premises.
I also told him that he was putting significant trust in his sales people to handle the CRM data on the company’s behalf and was paying them handsomely to manage the process professionally. Any failure to report on customers, contracts, sales activity or any small detail of the sales process, would impact heavily and directly on the bottom line of his business.
After a lengthy conversation, I summarised by advising him to channel his whole business planning process through to the sales teams using a professional CRM package, from corporate aims through their hierarchy of objectives, through to the sales planning, execution and management process, all of which would be completely aligned so that he could see the direct link between the sales people’s activity and his corporate targets.
And his sales people who didn’t fill in their reports? They could scrap their endless paper-chase, end their dubious reliance on spreadsheets and allow the CRM system to produce accurate month-end reports on time, every time. I remember having the ‘rubbish-in, rubbish-out’ conversations 20 years ago but they’re still entirely relevant today, in some businesses more than others it would seem.
Don Ainscough, Managing Director, Cape Westerly Clothing Ltd.