Written by Charlie Shaw on 22nd July 2020
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard the cliché that maintaining a CRM is all about slavishly typing in reams of data, reducing a sales team’s time for sales and creating a terrible burden. But let me share a secret with you – less is more. In this blog, I’m going to bust four of the most common CRM data myths that I hear on an almost daily basis.
Of course, it is a convenient message to peddle for the small proportion of salespeople who still prefer to operate in an isolated environment, as well as for those simple lead generation systems that do not possess any CRM capability.
But when many organisations are choosing the starter solution – a simple lead management or forecasting tool – they still find themselves with spreadsheets or additional databases popping up around the edges like weeds. There is certainly no doubt that these simple lead management and forecasting tools can be effective at reducing data input, but ultimately their favourable results are short-lived.
Instead, a true CRM allows businesses to get so much more benefit from their investment. Which is why it’s important to debunk some of the myths about data entry that these other solutions take pleasure in perpetuating.
Myth one: your sales and opportunity data must be perfect
There is a perception that for a good business forecast, the CRM lead or opportunity data must be completely accurate, and that users need to update every record. I have had many conversations with sales managers who expend great efforts trying to instil the discipline in their employees to gain 100% accuracy. And while this is an admirable goal to aim for, mostly it just ends up causing frustration and failure.
So, where’s the middle ground?
While I wholeheartedly recommend nurturing a culture in your business where the responsibility of maintaining the integrity of your data is shouldered by everyone who works on the system, there must remain a certain level of realism, especially within your sales team.
Think about it – if a sale is going in the wrong direction and communication has broken down, do you really want your sales team spending more and more time trying to tie up loose ends and fill in missing data, rather than focusing on active sales?
The key to this is to have the simplest of methods to show what sales or opportunities your team are actively working on, versus those which are no longer active – in my experience, a checkbox works well. This way, you can ensure that your forecast only captures the current and active leads or opportunities. This approach is a win-win because discipline only needs to extend to the active leads, while there is still the opportunity to easily identify, discuss and learn from sales that have fallen by the wayside. And while the abandoned records are still in the system, they are not affecting the quality of your decision making or the purpose of your CRM.
Myth two: users will have to enter data manually
There are many CRM’s or CRM adjacent platforms out there that, despite their apparent bells and whistles, still rely on users manually entering and updating data, rather than possessing the ability to import data, perform bulk updates, or auto-update. This understandably results in them being seen as more of a timewaster than a time-saver – how can you focus on selling if you’re busy making sure that your system is up to date?
However, a powerful CRM should be able to answer these issues with ease, eliminating much of the manual aspect of maintaining and updating your data.
Features to be on the lookout for include:
Address lookup – no need to type in manually and can be a real game-changer when it comes to saving time and improving data accuracy
Mobile CRM – phones now have great voice to text recognition which makes the creation of meeting notes a breeze, especially when they can be updated to an account or contact in your CRM in real-time, no matter where you are
Automated lead creation – the ability to set up automatic lead capture from a wide variety of sources, such as web forms, live chat tools, social media, means that your system can stop leads from falling through the net
Integrations with key business tools – the ability to integrate with tools such as Microsoft Office, lead sources, websites, ERPs etc. ensure that all of your data is collated into one, central system that can be viewed, managed and reported on
Easy bulk data change (with controls) – for all of their faults, there’s a reason why spreadsheets are still popular. So, having a CRM system that adopts the best functionality from a spreadsheet, but within your central database, is a no brainer
Myth three: one size fits all
When it comes to your sales or operational processes, they are rarely the same across the business sectors you deal with. However, the overarching principles are the same, the early stages are exploratory while the real meat of the process comes later.
Processes are not created equal
Unfortunately, many approach CRM by reducing their processes to the simplest and lowest common data denominator and adopting a ‘one size fits all’ approach. The perception is that this will simplify things and improve the experience for your sales team, making it more likely that they will enthusiastically adopt the system. In reality, this often backfires because this simplified approach to information actually leads to your teams facing significant data input every time they open a new lead or opportunity. With this in mind, it’s no surprise really that sales teams view a CRM system as a burden.
However, by choosing a CRM platform that can be configured to match the different stages unique to your processes you can serve up the right data fields, as well as helpful questions and prompts, and disrupt this ‘one size fits all’ narrative. As a result, your users will be encouraged and guided by the system to add the right data (specifically, information that will be more valuable and useful to your business) at the right time, whilst making their jobs easier.
And while a good qualification process may take some work to get perfect for your business, when done well it can force the user to face up to key realities and actually save significant wasted sales effort and financial cost. This is a major win for the business and individual sales users alike.
Myth four: you must measure everything!
A business gets their hands on a powerful CRM solution with end to end tracking (from an initial website visit through to project management and account management) so the logical conclusion is that you must measure a KPI for everything just because you can, right? Wrong!
I see this all the time, and it doesn’t surprise me at all. If you’ve gone from limited visibility of how your sales and opportunities are progressing to suddenly having a wealth of data at your fingertips, the temptation to measure everything is almost irresistible.
However, there are a few pitfalls to consider here. For a start, just because you can doesn’t mean that you should – there will always be a cost of effort or complexity to consider.
Next, one of the most common bugbears of sales teams everywhere when it comes to CRM systems is the feeling of being excessively monitored and micro-managed. Sales are already one of the most measured and targeted departments within a business. And while a CRM can be a great way to make tracking targets easier, managers need to tread carefully and ensure that they are using the CRM to help their sales team sell, not to micro-manage their every step.
My main piece of advice here is to think carefully about maintaining the balance between process reporting, operational efficiency and the happiness and effectiveness of your sales team.
Don’t make things harder than they need to be
As CRM solutions become more sophisticated, some of the old myths simply don’t hold water anymore. Take advantage of these new capabilities to maximise your CRM success and increase the buy-in from your team
Arrange a demo and find out how Gold-Vision CRM can save your teams valuable time and improve their productivity.