Despite what vendors claim to the contrary, customer relationship management is not all about technology. Technology helps it at scale, but CRM is actually a discipline. It is the discipline of building relationships that benefits both the buyer and the seller.
What we call “CRM” (product) is really great at organizing data that makes it possible to create relationships. It is a system that stores facts about your relationships and carries out some of the activities necessary to maintain your health. However, there are many other aspects that make a big impact on the relationship but are not driven by your CRM technology.
For example, consider the presence of being organized. Customers want to work with companies that are “put together” – companies that leave some gaps in their interactions with customers, who provide answers quickly and assuredly, and that both know their products And how to behave around buyers.
None of it is powered by CRM applications, but a company that exposes it simultaneously impacts the sales process. Likewise, a company that looks disorganized can undo its CRM efforts and put its sales team at a disadvantage.
Note that I am referring to the presence of the organization. This is a careful choice of words. We’ve all worked for businesses that have a degree of chaos behind the curtain as a standard feature, but the skills of their sales, marketing and support teams have kept that fact hidden from the outside world.
We have also seen businesses with fully locked-down processes that appear disorganized, as they are prisoners of process that cripple any extraordinary events.
While part of the skill of presenting an organized face to the buyer is based on the talent of your personnel, there are technologies and processes that you can implement to help your talent become more organized.
These are some of my favorites, in thick order of their place in the customer life cycle.
Sales visibility in lead generation
Before a sale contacts a lead, the representative needs to know about the company and the company that describes the lead. In many organizations, however, sales and marketing are operating from different versions of reality.
Marketing collects data in its system – often with the help of a marketing automation application – and then considers what the sales needs are as a lead.
However, this information often omits details of how the lead was initially collected, how it was advanced through lead scoring, how long it has been in the nutrition process, or its engagement in specific content or activities . Sales are blind to the origin of that lead or how much the lead has learned prior to initial contact.
The result is that the first experience of the sale with this customer includes information that is not important to the customer and which already resides in the seller’s business. In the process, the sales rep does not add any value, and the buyer starts to question how the seller is cluttered behind the curtain.
To fight this, encourage sales and marketing to use each other’s systems, or at least push for strict integration of their systems. Sales can use marketing automation if it is simple enough, and if they get coaching to make the best use of it – and they certainly have to have an understanding of how leads develop.
Marketing can benefit from sales feedback in the lead-building process and can also understand how sales are working.
Once the sales are in front of the customer, the representative is required to act as subject matter experts. If it is hard to expect that your sales representative has to carry all the information about their products in their head.
Unless they have notable memories, they by default pay attention to what they can track, which may not be the best solution for the buyer.
More likely they will be asked to provide content to the customer, but in a lot of organizations, this is very difficult. Companies cranked up a lot of content, but most of it is ineffective and goes unused (60–70 percent, according to the Serious ruling).
Furthermore, in many organizations, sales enablement is implemented so badly that salespeople cannot find the content that they know the company has. Nothing reduces customer confidence, which results from a sales-only clicking on a laptop that is searched for the right content.
Most sales enablement plans focus on content. If you want to look organized, stop churning content and snap to find that content. Just as important is the structure of the sales enabling system.