Sales are Down and it’s the CRM System’s Fault!

I bet you have all heard this one from a Sales Manager: “Why are sales down folks, what’s the problem?” Such times are prime opportunities for the sales staff to blame the CRM system. “Because I am spending ALL my time entering data!

The Sales Manager is accountable to the CEO, who (of course) demands to know what in the world is being done about the low sales numbers. Everyone goes into panic mode. The CRM software is then set aside. The sales staff reverts to speed-dialing on their phones and feverishly banging on the keyboard, pumping out email messages.

Sometime later, after the hysteria has subsided and quite possibly with a new Sales Manager, a new level of enthusiasm and ideas surface. Suddenly someone starts talking about the CRM system again.

Now, they have to pick up where they left off several weeks or months ago. Ugh…all the data is old and out of date! The opportunities are not updated and the leads are dead cold. Most of the new business that has come around in the interim is nowhere to be found. On top of that, some of the sales staff have left the company, their email inboxes probably overflowing with valuable client communication history.

Now they have to start over. What a lot of work THAT looks like.

A familiar scenario: compromising the long term for the short term. We all do it, don’t we? A hot lead comes in and we jump into an email discussion, and back and forth it goes. “I’ll update the CRM later with all this communication exchange”, we think. But does “later” ever come? Many times, no.

What’s the best thing to do when sales are down and the CEO is breathing down everyone’s throat? First of all, don’t panic! Survey the details collected in the CRM system to see what is what and identify the areas that need focus. Eliminate any unnecessary steps in the short term, but by no means should you compromise the long term strategy of the CRM data. Starting over is a painful and very expensive exercise which will not take the company forward in the long term.

If sales people are complaining that they’re spending all of their time in the CRM system rather than closing deals, there’s a problem that needs to be uncovered. The reason a CRM solution was put into action in the first place was to protect the company against the loss of data to the email inbox. Throwing caution to the wind by halting your CRM engagement cannot be justified.

Evaluate, scale back, focus on the short term – but never, ever, compromise the long term benefits that your CRM system can deliver.