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Performance Management Friday — Compliance Is Not The Point Of CRM Systems!

by David Brock on February 16th, 2012

There’s always a lot of discussion in the Sales 2.0, CRM worlds about compliance.  Millions are invested in new systems–supposedly.  There’s a great urge to make sure people are using them, so compliance has become a key topic of discussion in lots of places.  Basically compliance is measuring, “are people using the system?”

Compliance — at least the way it’s commonly used is absolutely worthless!  Reporting on who has signed into the system, how many times they’ve logged in and all the related measures are  meaningless.  While some of the vendors would claim it’s important, the goal of CRM is not system utilization.

CRM is supposed to help sales people be more effective and more efficient.  It’s supposed to help them better manage their opportunities, territories, and time.  It’s a tool, properly utilized, that can help sales people perform at the highest levels possible.  So if sales people aren’t using the system, if compliance is low, the reasons are probably pretty simple.  The system is not helping them to be more effective or efficient, or they don’t know how to use the system to be more effective and efficient.

Continued beatings and warnings from management about compliance, continuing to measure it doesn’t solve the root problem.  It doesn’t address the issue of improving effectiveness.  Sales people can make the compliance needle go up–simply by logging on and doing nothing.  Or they can enter garbage into the system.

Having said that, I can’t imagine being a highly productive sales person without leveraging CRM to it’s utmost.  Most sales people simply have too much going on and too little time to be efficient without a tool.  At even the simplest levels of contact, activity, and calendar management, it helps the sales person keep track of things.  The first thing I do every morning is look at my calendar and to-do list to know what I have to get done–what prospecting calls, to who, about what.  The next step on a deal, something I have to complete, a follow up.  It’s all there, I don’t have to remember it.

But managing our deals, pipelines and territories are much more complex.  Are some deals slipping away from me?  Are they lingering–or have I ignored them?  Am I missing an opportunity to move something forward?  Am I chasing enough deals–sure, I know all the deals I’m closing, but what’s the state of my funnel?  Am I reaching out and touching past customers, am I staying in contact with everyone?  Do I have upsell, cross sell opportunities?

Increasingly, sales is a collaborative team sport.  We rely on others to help us do deals.  How do we keep track of what’s going on?  How to we manage the execution of our deal strategy across the team, how do we share changes and what we need to do across the team, how do we stay in sync, maximizing every moment we spend with the customers?

Or systems are getting increasingly social–they enable me to do more, to ask more questions.  Has something changed with my customer that might present and opportunity?  Has someone moved, are there new people to meet, who’s there that I should be meeting, who are they?

Many of the systems have rich analytic embedded.  A week ago, I sat with a sales person, he was leveraging the data in his CRM system to give me a deep analysis of his territory.  He could look at trends, he could look at specific customers or prospects, he could look at histories–or the absence of history.  We used this analysis to develop a prospecting plan–one that would have extraordinary payoff, because we could identify those customers and prospects that might have a higher propensity to buy this new product line.  He could identify, target, and begin to reach out to them.

No sales professional can survive without leveraging these tools everyday.  They enable us to manage our time, maximize our impact, free us up to think, plan, strategize, and execute.

So compliance isn’t the issue. Compliance should be 100% period!  If it isn’t it’s because the sales people don’t see the value.  They don’t understand how they can leverage the tools to maximize the results they produce in their territories.  They don’t understand how to use these tools to make them win more deals, more quickly.

Mandating utilization, mandating compliance, setting compliance goals is about system utilization.  It makes IT happy, it makes vendors happy, it make management happy because they can claim the investment in the system was good.  Utilization is not the point of any of these tools.

The fact there are endless discussions about compliance means we have missed the opportunity and are focusing on the wrong thing.  Helping sales people be better, helping them to be more effective, more efficient is what it’s all about.  If they don’t see this, then you’ve missed a huge amount of opportunity.  If you and your vendor aren’t helping your teams understand this, then you have wasted a lot of money on whatever system you’ve implemented.

Don’t waste your time at looking at who’s logged on, don’t track utilization data, it’s meaningless.  If your people aren’t using the system, if compliance isn’t 100%, then something is wrong–and it’s probably not the sales person.

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2 Comments
  1. Scott Woodhouse permalink

    I know this is an older post, but his is even truer today. We have “Dasboard Managers” out there, I don’t think they have a clue on this. Great post.

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