In theory, customer relationship management (CRM) software is an ideal way to improve sales performance and customer retention; it gives your sales team a centralized place to store and draw information, regardless of where they are, and gives your company more insight into metrics like leads, close ratios, and sales performance over time.
However, most CRM platforms don’t end up saving time; they end up wasting it. Why? Because every minute your sales team spends using a CRM platform, they’re not actually selling. Fortunately, there are a few strategies you can use to mitigate this effect.
The Usability Factor
CRM revenues have risen consistently every year since 2010, and most businesses find that CRM platforms contribute to higher achievement of sales quotas. However, this doesn’t take into account how much time it takes for employees to learn and work around the quirks of the individual platform. Some systems are non-intuitive, forcing companies to invest more time and money into training and interfering with the cost benefits of adapting the platform in the first place.
The Usefulness of Data
There’s no question that having access to more data can help you close more deals, giving you more insight into customer needs, and the ability to objectively test different strategies in a live environment. However, most CRM platforms offer dozens of different fields for data, only some of which are actually useful to your bottom line. If your salespeople busy themselves with tracking down and updating these ineffective bits of data, they’ll waste time and distract themselves from the main goal.
Individual Preferences vs. Standardization
CRM systems also offer standardization, which can be good, but can also distract individuals from their personal preferences and strategies, resulting in a reduction in effectiveness. Finding a way to harmonize these two approaches is critical if you want your team to operate at peak performance.
Strategies for Improvement
So what can you do to fight back against these productivity killers?
- Shop around for better software. Everything starts with finding the right CRM platform; there are hundreds of options on the market available, and each one offer something unique. SAP, for example, offers a number of different CRM products, each of which is catered to a different set of professional needs. Selecting a platform that suits your business specifically, and offers intuitive, straightforward UI, will cause less headaches for your sales team and serve you well in capturing and maintaining your data.
- Train your sales people effectively. Your next job is to spend enough time and money training your sales team. Every member of your team should understand the ins and outs of your CRM platform, and should be able to use it as an extension of their own minds rather than a clunky ledger that needs updated like a chore.
- Set better priorities. You can also improve your performance by setting better priorities with the type of data you capture and how you use it. Do you really need every field filled out when a new lead comes in? How detailed should your notes be? Developing shorthand and best practices here can save your team hours every week.
Your sales team will perform best when they maximize the amount of time they spend selling—period. The most advanced platform in the world won’t do you much good if all it does is tie up and confuse your sales force. However, the right platform, with the right priorities set and a good training strategy in place, can improve your sales potential and keep your team working at their most efficient.