I've been speaking a lot the past few months about
bridging crossing jumping hurdling dealing with the sometimes competing objectives of sales and marketing. There has been plenty written about it, for example, here, here and here.
And you can check out the recording of a panel I moderated at the most recent Salesforce.com Dreamforce conference if you'd like. (note: they posted the sessions on Google video. Is there any B2B company more hip than salesforce?)
Oftentimes, we talk about technology being the answer to this relationship problem. But it's not. Technology can help you automate and systemize the solution, but it won't get to the root of it. CRM systems are great repositories of customer information, but they do not populate themselves. Marketing automation platforms are wonderful revenue building tools, but unless you have a blueprint for success, your tools will merely be expensive toys. Is this obvious? Every time I think I say something overly transparent here, I meet someone in the real world who has purchased a whole lot of CRM and can't figure out why their sales people never update it. Which leads me to this.
I wanted to elevate a voice I heard on Brian Carroll's blog last year on the topic. One of the things that annoys me about the blogging format is that the blogger's voice is preferenced over the commenters, who often lend a valuable, insightful and fresh perspective on the issue being discussed. So I thought I'd repost what Don Hicks from Salesvistas.com said in a comment and then I'll be back at the bottom of this post with a few additional notes:
Let's role play.
Management: "Some of our sales people are really good and some are not so good. How can make the not so good ones as productive as the really good ones?"
Management's idea man (CFO?): "We measure their activity with CRM software. The metrics will tell us what good activity is."
Marketing: "Since we are getting CRM anyway, if we have the sales people enter key demographic data we can do our jobs better."
Product Manager: "If you can collect this additional information we can better determine what features to add to our future products."
CFO (idea man?): "With additional data we may get better forecasts and therefore I can do a better job of managing our cash flow."
Management Announcement" "OK team, we have this really cool application that is going to let us know who the really good sales people are and who the not so good sales people are. And if you fill in all the boxes, the marketing department, product managers, and the financial department (who we know are ALL really good at their jobs even though we don't measure that) will have MORE data so they can be really, really better."
The really good sales people know who they need to talk to, where they are in the sales process (even if the company doesn't have a sales process), why the prospect is going to buy, and who is going to sign the check. A "traditional" CRM system is NOT going to make the really good sales person more productive. The really good sales people are also probably generating their own leads.
The not so good sales people don't want you to know that they're not so good. Just like the not so good marketing, production, financial, cleaning people don't want you to know they don't know what they're doing.
Hence, nothing good will come from the data in the CRM system anyway. The really good sales people will enter the minimum data required and the not so good sales people will "pad" their data with garbage.
There are technologies that can make sales people more efffective, knowledgable, and professional (CRM/SFA are management tools not sales tools). But, in order for these to work, the foundation of a sound CRM system supported by a well designed sales process must be in place.
New Role Play:
CEO Announcement: "We have decided to implement a new CRM system to help us better communicate with our customers and prospects. We understand that an additional administrative load will be placed on our sales team. We have the best sales team in the world and I am sure they can handle the additional load. If you work diligently to be thorough and keep the data current, I promise our effort and investment to make you better and more professional sales people.
I promise I will use the CRM system as a management tool to better interact with you, the life blood of our business, and help you be more effective, knowledgeable, and confident when representing our company value.
I promise I will use the CRM system to focus more resources toward your success.
I promise to never again ask you "What will you close this month?", and instead I will be prepared to speak to you in terms of what resources you need to close your most immediate opportunities and advance your other opportunities through the sales process.
I promise better collaboration between management, sales, marketing and customer service.
And finally, I promise continuous improvement of the system, driven mostly by input from you, our customer-facing teams."
So what should you take away from all this? Start with a meeting. Lure your salespeople into a room with the promises of beer and wine and quota attainment, and start whiteboarding it out. Give it a shot. And if you post a great comment, I'll be sure to promote that too.