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The Story of the “Shiny Lights”​

Who’s in control, or out of control?

#salesperformance #salesstrategy #salesmanagement #leadership #CRM #pipeline Having now helped numerous businesses get a much better return on their substantial investments in CRM systems, we thought it worthwhile to share a story with you. This is a story about how certain people in organisations want to keep seeing shiny and flickering lights in their on-premise server rooms. The organisation in question is a multi-country customer of ours who had, at the time when we first engaged with them, twelve different on-premise instances of their CRM system. Not just a handful, but TWELVE different instances. Worse still, each instance was up to 80% customized – can you believe it?!

As a result, any change request had to be replicated TWELVE times. With the IT department controlling any and all change requests, through the bureaucracy of multiple layers of management and understaffed teams, as well as having loads of other more important issues on their plate, this led to huge time delays and frustrations within the business.

Not surprisingly, the external system integrator would rub their hands with each change request, as this became rather expensive and time consuming of course.

Meanwhile, the sales leaders of this organisation were not able to get a single or trustworthy CRM-based view of their customers, nor a single CRM dashboard of how sales was performing, let alone what the sales forecast looked like across all geographies.

And that was exactly why the organisation acquired a CRM system in the first place, to create “one version of the truth” across the entire business.

When we challenged the IT department with all of the above, the answer was “But that’s how the users (in sales) wanted it in the first place!” and “Don’t come knocking on our door, as we need to control all systems in this business.”…


Needless to say, our recommendations included all of the following:

  1. Replace all of the existing on-premise instances with a single, cloud-based instance of the particular CRM system, so that you can indeed obtain the all-important single view across all teams around the globe – and have the same dashboards for all to see, from top to bottom

  2. Instead of customizing the system, configure the system – which quite often means that you need to change your processes so that they fit a – typically – global best practice process that is already baked into the CRM system

  3. Create the right (sales) processes, aligned with e.g. customer buying processes, so that it reduces for example sales cycle time, and increases win rates

  4. Create as much workflow automation as possible and drive as many processes and activities into – and out of – your CRM system, so that the system becomes a critical part of someone’s day-to-day job; they simply should not be able to do their job without using the CRM system on a daily basis!

  5. Train your users on the new or revised processes, on especially the “what’s in it for me”, and use CRM as the enabler to demonstrate how much more effective they can be in their jobs and with their customers

  6. Coach your sales leaders on how to run each sales meeting with LIVE dashboards straight out of CRM – get rid of the spreadsheets and slide decks!

  7. Hold sales leaders and sales individuals accountable for data quality – by measuring, highlighting and praising best practice, but also “naming and shaming” were this is the opposite

    1. And please note, we are NOT advocating rewarding people for using a CRM system.

    2. If you have to, create “gates” whereby e.g. commission dollars are not fully paid out when certain CRM requirements have not been met

  8. Move the all-important role of CRM System Administrator from out of IT into the actual business, e.g. into Sales Operations, so that not only change requests can be actioned much quicker; the person will also learn the ins and outs of sales much quicker when they are part of the team

  9. Oh, and replace the current external system integrator with a more competent partner - we can recommend a few good ones....

As you can imagine, we got huge pushback from the multiple layers within the IT department of that customer of ours.

Escalations were flying left right and centre, people were stalling and avoiding having to attend various meetings, until we positioned the above recommendations with their Global Head of IT. His powerful – and very simple – response was “But all your recommendations are global best practice, so get on with it.”.

All of our recommendations were subsequently implemented within a relative short timeframe, with as a result that data quality, utilisation and ROI improved. On top of that, the sales leaders now have a single, global view of sales results, sales forecast, and customer details.

We can provide you with many, many more stories of how businesses are wasting so much money with the wrong approach when it comes to implementing and supporting their CRM system. In fact, we can write a bookshelf full of books on how not to implement a CRM system.

Regardless of whether companies use Salesforce, MS Dynamics, Sugar CRM etc. the challenges are the same.

Oh, and one story I’d love to tell you some other time, is the one about the customer who swapped one well-known CRM system with another well-known system, hoping that all of a sudden user adoption and data quality would magically improve….

A CRM system is simply an enabler, it is not a driver for change; if you haven’t got the right and relevant processes – and support structure – in place (which are in fact the drivers), you’re wasting time and money. And at the end of the day, sales users will not adopt usage and your data quality will be far below par.

So, how important is your CRM system to your business? Are you getting a proper ROI on your investment, do you have 90+% user adoption as well as data quality?

Get Fresh Perspective Sales involved from the very start of your CRM implementation program, given that you and your technology partner need to be briefed up front about the right architecture of the system, the right foundational configurations at the very start of the CRM rollout.

These foundations relate to basic things like ensuring that Accounts can be set up easily, that you as an organisation are able to create the correct “roll-up” dashboards, and that specific “sales” effectiveness and relevant activity management measurements can be implemented correctly. Contact us now!


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