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By Josh Ovett


• Sales reps are “technically challenged.”

• Sales reps are reluctant to be tracked and therefore, have little to no accountability.

• Leads and marketing campaigns are not accurately tracked, making analysis of wins and losses difficult.

• Valuable back-office data, including order status and commissions, is not readily available.

• Customer service requests are not effectively managed.

• Future deals are not forecasted accurately.

• Activities are not well managed, and records are not well kept.

The goal of a CRM system is to manage these issues in a way that disguises the complexity of the task, making your sales team feel comfortable enough to use it. Sales reps will be more responsive to a solution that is simple and intuitive. As many of us whose eyes glazed over during high school physics can relate to, they just need to know that it works, not why it works.

This explains why a flexible CRM system – the “digital lumber” that makes sales processes simple by masking the complexity – can be a key to CRM success. For this reason, customization capability should be one of your main criteria, right up there with cost and vendor reputation, when evaluating a CRM system.

While most decision makers would not place “customization” over “cost” on their list of priorities, I encourage you not to limit your options over the issue of cost. To put it frankly, building a simple, functional system can, and likely will, simply cost more than applying a quick fix. Winning over your sales team to CRM is an investment worth making. As much as you may not care to admit it, the sales team is the heart of your business and the source of much of your revenue. If the implementation is done correctly, you will recover your investment many times over.

Let me provide you with an example. We implemented a CRM system for a leading distributor of printer and toner cartridges operating across the southeastern United States. When the client expressed interest in integrating the solution with the company’s existing accounting and phone systems, we knew that it wouldn’t be successful without a significant investigation into how the sales team was already comfortable with conducting its business.

We then interviewed the sales staff to learn exactly how they liked to work and how they wanted the CRM solution to work for them. The result of this investigation was an integrated system that they feel empowered to use – and that they rely on, as it now does a portion of their work for them. In return, management now has both increased results from the sales team and increased visibility into their actions, making reps more accountable and making the company as a whole more profitable.

To put the results in concrete terms, the sales and service representatives have increased their outbound calls from 1,700 per month to 3,500 – with the number reaching as high as 6,800 during peak months. The secret formula? Well, it’s no secret. It’s a matter of asking tough questions to find the company’s real issues, then applying the proper technology to solve those problems.

Companies are like fingerprints – similar at first glance, but each patently unique in its own way. Asking difficult questions is the only way to find the unique aspects of each individual company and provide the proper, customized technology solution that will allow each to optimize its individual CRM solution. We at Extremely Productive call this process “uncovery.” Without it, any discussion about CRM adoption is really just another Monday morning meeting.


Josh Ovett is the President of Extremely Productive Inc.
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