CRM was one of many technologies developed to automate a company. But with a sales force composed of live, breathing humans—should people also be so automated through CRM?
The original intention of CRM solutions was to coordinate various departments within a company in their customer relationship activities. As time went on, CRM also became a tool through which sales management could monitor salespeople and their progress in closing various deals and making sales quotas. Sales reps have been expected to dutifully report their progress through CRM.
The Attempt to Make Robots
At the same time that CRM solutions were further developed to monitor sales, methods were developed that would make sales processes almost a foregone conclusion. A salesperson only had to follow them—often also following exactly worded scripts—and it was expected that they would arrive at a closed sale. It was an attempt to bring the precision automation that had been so beneficial in manufacturing into the sales force while excluding any trace of salesperson initiative.
For the sales rep, not only was initiative crushed but CRM become more and more cumbersome. Salespeople were forced to enter increasing amounts of information into CRM—information that in the end didn’t benefit them at all, and with questionable results for any company.
Freeing the Shackles
An increasing number of companies today are realizing that sales reps perform better when left to make many of their own decisions and follow their own instincts when working a sale. Using the sales process as a guide, they are nonetheless allowed to depart from it where they see fit to bring a sale home to a close.
Companies making these kinds of changes are seeing the benefits in the sales performance. The entrepreneurial spirit that made salespeople who they are in the first place can now be fully exploited—to their own and their companies’ profit.
CRM Solutions for Empowerment
While such changes are being made to sales forces, they are appearing in CRM solutions as well.
When the view of “CRM as control” is switched to “CRM as empowerment,” it can be seen that a CRM solution can be of great benefit to salespeople. With plentiful data about sales as they progress being saved in CRM, what if that data could be easily accessed by sales reps to help them control and move along their own sales?
It, of course, requires a CRM solution that is radically different from the traditional norm. Instead of being complex and barely usable by salespeople, it needs to be flexible and intuitive. It should exactly mirror a company’s sales process so that data is placed where it logically should go in the sales pipeline. Saving of data in such a matter means that it is also easily retrievable.
Add in the functionality that drastically reduces the amount of reporting required by salespeople, and you have a CRM solution that they can work with, that they can use—that they might even find fun.
CRM solutions are for people, not for robots. That change of view will allow you to tap into the native ability of your sales force—and release it to everyone’s benefit.