August 16, 2018
The CEO & the CRM

By Aaron Ayer – CEO The Hunley Group – Partner of Mayfield Consulting

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is a necessary and exciting sales productivity tool for any CEO. It is a leading indicator of how your business will perform: you can see selling activity, which leads to pipeline growth, which leads to better sales forecasting, which leads to actual sales. But all too often, this big-ticket software purchase becomes a source of friction between you and your go-to-market team: adoption is low, the data is incomplete, and several sales reps steadfastly refuse to use it. CRM photo

And you, the CEO, are left wondering, “Why?”

Based on years and years of successful CRM installations and optimizations, we find the following roadmap to be critical.

Mindset Critical to Adoption

If you approach the CRM as a “reporting tool” for executive benefit, you will have lost before you’ve begun. While a CRM IS an invaluable path to transparency into your organization’s performance for you and senior management, focusing only on what reports you get out of it, rather than how it makes sales more effective, establishes that Big Brother is watching. And it just drops another administrative burden on sales.

Don’t be that CEO. Use carrots and sticks. The CRM will only be an effective reporting tool for you if Sales perceives the software as a “productivity tool,” something that will enable them to close the most deals in the fewest number of prospect touches possible. You get superior data if they want to use it.

Diagnosing issues: You ask Sales Ops to list how Salesforce has made sales more productive and efficient and they can’t show you without thinking about it. You do a sales ridealong, and you don’t see the sales rep opening Salesforce multiple times during the day – phone, tablet, and laptop.

Change Management

Always keep in mind that a CRM is not magic, it does not come into play on its own. Plan the roll out before you begin building the system to ensure that management and staff alike are appropriately trained and supported from launch. The first 3-6 months after rollout require intense attention on your part, a demand of “Show me, show me, show me.” And, “Sales Ops, what’s your training plan? Sales leaders, have you required attendance at training?”

The most successful launch I ever witnessed involved the VP of Sales demanding his entire team enter all their data “by Wednesday”. While seemingly draconian, his demand was met. More notably, the rule was firmly established from the outset: the CRM wasn’t paperwork to be filed later, it was the new methodology for conducting business. You better bet that sales team came back to us begging for reinforcing training.

Diagnosing issues: You sit in on sales meetings, and they’re not run from metrics in Salesforce. You ask a sales rep to show you how she uses Salesforce and what she’s supposed to get out of it, and she’s hesitant and unsure.

Mandate Usage by Management as well as Sales

You’ve heard, “If it’s not in Salesforce, it doesn’t exist”, but that can be a source of resentment if management excuses themselves from the mandate. More notably, piecemeal adoption undermines the CRM’s data, which in turn undermines your investment and goals. Everyone must be onboard, and that requires leading from the front.
  • If you are running reports, or doing management reviews, do so from a dashboard within the CRM, and project it onto the screen.
  • Have a standard set of pipeline reports that everybody uses, from leadership down to sales reps, to make sure everybody’s working towards the same metrics
  • If your management team hands you a report in Excel or PowerPoint, hand it back. Tell them to put it in the CRM and use the management tools there.

Diagnosing issues: You ask Salesforce admin about the new dashboards and reports the C-suite has demanded of him/her during the previous year and hear “uh, no asks.” Or, you sit in on the VP of Sales team review, and the meeting isn’t run from a Salesforce dashboard.

Keep Your Data Clean

Treat your data like the valued asset it is by incorporating a data quality program. Give that program resources for monitoring and management. Best run organizations have a data quality score: they know what pieces of data are critical to have in the system, ensure it is updated, and track results, so the data stays clean and reliable. Data that is wrong or even duplicated will frustrate your staff, which affects adoption, and as a result, the data will be junk.

Your Sales Ops team should license data hygiene software for Salesforce (it’s cheap!), and they should routinely run scenarios to scrub the database (ask to see what they do).

Diagnosing issues: There are complaints about data duplication or inaccuracy. You ask to see the data quality process and get a blank stare.

Measure Adoption

Measuring is critical to adoption. Start by checking whether your people are logging in. Look for volumes of data records created. Once your processes are embedded, look for compliance – are calls to key accounts always logged every 30 days, are key contacts present on prospect companies, is your sales pipeline complete and up-to-date, do your forecasts reflect reality?

Finally, survey your people regularly and make sure that the system is meeting their needs and identify new features.

Diagnosing issues: A meaningful percent of reps have not logged in within the last few days. You don’t see “exceptions reports” on dashboards that highlight non-compliance. You find you can’t trust the numbers yourself.

In Closing

You have a market strategy, a sales strategy, and corporate strategy. You should have a CRM strategy. Develop a CRM roadmap, complete with quarterly goals. Ensure that senior resources are allocated to govern your CRM. Remember this is a living, breathing tool. It will never be fully built out. You are always building, adding functionality and capability.

Remember that a CRM is not a magic bullet – it does not run itself. Successful adoption requires a commitment. But with dedication, the ROI is visible and real. We have created functionality that saves an individual sales rep 40-60 hours of paperwork per year; that’s a full week and a half of admin time now available for facetime with clients. You also attain top-of-the line growth: you can solidify and align your business processes to best practices as a matter of routine. Finally, you gain better visibility into your business: a 360-degree view of your customers, knowing which ones to go after and who can go after them most effectively.

Mayfield Consulting and The Hunley Group work together to enhance the sales and marketing productivity of our joint clients.

Mayfield Consulting provides a dynamic range of sales and marketing services to companies that sell Business to Business, including Strategy, Target Marketing, Market Research, Sales Process Improvement, Lead Generation, Digital Marketing and PR. The results speak for themselves: in 2018 two clients with 60%+ growth rates, one of whom has been on the Inc. Fastest Growing list five years in a row. With Mayfield Consulting you see results.

The Hunley Group takes the time to intimately understand a client’s sales, marketing and customer service processes and recommend exactly how a CRM such as should be used to deliver productivity gains, improved sales results, renewals/repeat business, and transparent visibility into the sales pipeline. The Hunley Group delivers real, executive-level strategic thinking where process comes first, and the tools come second.