By Generation Next Governor at Large Steven S. Lopez
Hissong Group, Inc.
This article was originally published in the July 2016 issue of Generation Next Edition.
Although you and I may have never met, it is likely we have something in common: at some point in time, both of us have probably experienced similar symptoms due to an office illness that primarily afflicts people at all levels, in organizations of all sizes. This "illness" has been known to generate high levels of stress, anger, frustration, paranoia, sweaty palms, increased heart rate, confusion, dizziness, blurred vision, numbness in the wrists and soreness of the fingertips. In fact, in some extreme cases it has even threatened the job security of successful employees.
Despite its evolution through the years, this phenomenon still exists for one reason. Perhaps you have already guessed what I'm talking about. If not, then let me spell it out for you: I am referring to CRM, also known as Customer Relationship Management software.
Of course, referring to CRM as an illness was just a metaphorical exaggeration to capture your attention - a novice writer's attempt to sensationalize an introduction (as one might expect of a person with 20+ years' sales experience). As for the symptoms noted earlier, I have personally experienced and witnessed them in fellow sales managers and even among my own sales staff. Just to clarify, I have never been dismissed by an employer nor had to dismiss anyone for negligence in the use (or non-use) of CRM. However, during the hiring process with an OEM truck component manufacturer/supplier, the senior vp of sales/marketing (also a former Marine) shared a very clear message with me: "Using CRM is a condition of employment with our organization." (Yes, Sir!)
Fortunately, I had already discovered the immense benefits of incorporating the use of CRM software as part of my sales and account management processes while at a previous employer (whew!). Of course, it was also during my very first experience with using CRM that I experienced symptoms associated with implementing this software.
CRM requires a great deal of effort and time for data entry. You might be asking yourself: How is this supposed to add value to the “sales process”? How am I supposed to achieve my weekly/monthly sales targets if I have to spend 3-4 hours a day entering information? Will management actually read the information I have entered?
Well, I am sure that we can each come up with our own lengthy list of negatives about using a CRM tool; some points might be very legitimate. As for myself, after putting aside the fear of change and embracing the opportunity of learning a new software, I took the leap of faith and progressively became a zealous supporter and promoter of the CRM movement (just ask my staff).
CRM really is an amazing and efficient sales tool.
The caveat to remember is this: GIGO (garbage-in / garbage-out). In essence, the quality of your CRM entries will determine if your time is well spent. If you enter misinformation or incomplete/incoherent content, how will you or anyone else be able to follow the storyline of your sales opportunity? This is the mindset you must have in order to be successful in CRM: pretend that you are telling a story of someone or something legendary. Every story worth reading, hearing, writing or telling has three main parts: a provocative beginning, an exciting middle and a memorable end. The more sophisticated CRM software allow you to include voice-notes, photos and videos to help make your entries more meaningful.
CRM is an ideal tool for the formal documentation of your sales accomplishments and efforts - your overall adventures in sales. Others will know about your impact even after you are gone.
CRM can be your story. CRM can be your legend.
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