I’m betting that the following scenario is a painfully familiar one. A sales manager is speaking with one of his reps about his quarterly projections. The conversation goes like this:
Sales manager: So, Jim, what do you think you’re going to produce this quarter?
Sales rep: Well, boss, I’m 90% confident that these three deals will close for a total of $100,000 in revenue.
Sales manager: So I can count on you hitting $100,000?
Sales rep: Sure thing, boss. No problem!
Almost every sales manager, VP or business owner has had a conversation like this—only to be disappointed when Jim winds up bringing in just $30,000 for the quarter. All too often this pattern repeats itself, until finally either Jim quits or is let go.
What’s the problem here? Is it that Jim’s sales targets are unrealistic? Is he simply a crummy sales rep? Perhaps. But it’s far more likely that Jim is falling short because of a reason that’s easy to overlook: he’s leaving huge gaps when reporting his sales activities in your company’s CRM system.
Senior managers often praise Customer Relationship Management software such as Salesforce.com, Oracle or Microsoft Dynamics as one of the best tools a business can have. And they’re right. CRM systems allow you to track the activities and interactions that your sales reps have with customers and prospects. The idea is to streamline the sales process by tracking all the key activities and metrics that will lead to a sale. If the information recorded in a CRM system is accurate, it can be an incredibly valuable tool for predicting sales, new customers and movement through a sales pipeline.
But not if vast chunks of information are never recorded.
And that’s a widespread problem. Even though it’s easier for a salesperson to use a CRM system than the old paper-based sales reports, many sales reps remain anything but thorough in logging their activities. Actually, that’s an understatement. Many salespeople are notorious for not inputting critical information that will help management accurately manage the sales process and forecast revenue—and help reps themselves accurately predict their commissionable earnings.
Why is there so much resistance among salespeople to use these tools properly? Here are the three key reasons:
Reason #1: It Takes Time Away From Selling
Sales reps want to spend their time speaking with current and potential customers so they can gain new sales and thus earn commission. As such, they see anything that takes them away from selling as an opportunity cost.
Let’s say that Jim has just had a 30-minute conversation with a prospect in which Jim learned a lot about this potential client but also that she wouldn’t be in a position to buy for another year. Rather than spend the 15 to 20 minutes necessary to enter into the CRM everything he had learned on this call, Jim inputs minimal information and a note to call the prospect in a year.