Posted by : Amanda Stein Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A customer relationship management (CRM) system has been proven to be a vital component of any successful business. Along with the several benefits of a CRM system, The Harvard Business Review cites, "In cases reviewed, sales increases due to advanced CRM technology have ranged from 10% to more than 30%." While these systems have been proven to bolster the sales process, CRM systems are also noteworthy for:

  • Managing the customer buying experience 
  • Forecasting sales 
  • Actively monitoring sales staff performance
  • Segmenting customers into markets 
  • Increasing customer retention and customer service 

While increased sales are always desirable, these types of results can only be experienced through a sales process that requires sales team members to record accurate data into the CRM system. Sales professionals should systematically input key data points for each opportunity under management. Although the most desirable sales process requires daily updates to the CRM system, sales professionals should be held accountable for inputting the key mandatory data at least once a week.

Considering that the devil is in the details, it’s important to be aware that many sales professionals input information that is missing information, full of errors, or formatted incorrectly. These sales professionals fail to understand the benefits that can be reaped by utilizing a proven sales-driving system. The data that is input into the CRM system will help improve the sales process and direct initiatives. The invaluable CRM analytics produced from the data provides unparalleled intelligence around the customer buying experience.

However, all of these benefits hinge on the integrity of the data. Any sales process should incorporate the recording of key data points as an essential component.

Quality data is made possible by people, processes, and technology

1) The CRM System is Only as Good as the Integrity of the Data

Maintaining the integrity of your data begins with its proper input into the CRM system. During the sales process, sales professionals collect a wide variety of information from customers and prospects. The CRM system is designed to effectively collect this data, manage customers, and move prospects through the pipeline. In addition, the CRM ensures that customers receive the proper emails and other communications at the optimum time.

The CRM system converts raw data into key performance measures. The integrity of the data is paramount for producing reports and other benefits of a CRM system.

The quality of data input by sales professionals can be an added bonus or it can be a reoccurring problem. While the benefits of accurate data were previously explained, bad data can have harrowing effects and severely misguided sales efforts.

2) Management Roles: Reasons for Resistance from Sales
Far too often, entering the required information takes a significant amount of time out of a sales professional’s day. Forcing sales professionals to enter unnecessary information is a quick way to destroy the integrity of the data. Instead, management should limit the required fields to essential information, which should focus on accuracy and consistency.

3) Proper Training of Sales Staff

Management should be trained in using the CRM system and have a deep understanding of how the system works. By doing so, management actively train sales staff on the best practices for using the CRM system. An ancient Chinese proverb suggests that if you tell them, they will forget; If you show them, they will remember; but if you involve them, they will understand. Any training program should follow the notion of tell/show/involve. Reinforcing the instruction with visuals and hands-on experience creates the optimum learning environment for sales professionals

It is key to offer additional one-on-one training as well as refresher courses.

The Best Practices for Implementing CRM Systems

Fully install your sales process. This is not just the stage pick list, but actually have a section on your opportunity screen that calls out the activity and the data points that sales professionals need to complete for each individual stage.

Highlight, color, or draw attention to all of the required fields in a way that explains why it is important that they are completed.

Offering additional CRM training will keep the best practices fresh and further ensure the integrity of the data. While several facets of the CRM system should be covered, areas of repeated mistakes or omissions should be targeted to decrease data contamination.

Leverage reports to show where your data and process is breaking down and do it at the sales professional level.

Management should produce a report that lists each user and whether the user left any of the required fields blank.

Following up with sales professionals who appear on the report is imperative. Create a plan that begins with one-on-one coaching. If necessary progress to negative incentives to promote the integrity of the data.

There are a lot of details in your CRM system. Knowing which details matter and keying in on keeping those details as cleanly and as accurately as possible is paramount to data accuracy. So, go looking for the devil; it will be in the details.

Frank Donny is founder and CEO of Marseli, a marketing and sales analytics and performance software company. Donny is responsible for the firm’s capabilities, software vision and services.

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