CRM Adoption - Simplify Decisions“Paralysis by analysis” means having so much data that it becomes difficult to take any action.  And it is an issue that organizations frequently run into with getting users to adopt a customer relationship management solution.  Users see long lists of activities, leads, opportunities, cases and accounts - and they don’t know where to begin to manage their day in the CRM system.  The results can be devastating to the bottom line and often include: failing to work the best leads, opportunities that slip through the cracks, key customers that are ignored and follow-up commitments that are not met.  Ultimately, it may lead your team to abandon CRM and go back to old ways of managing relationships.

Help, Sales isn’t Working CRM Leads from Marketing!

The CRM paralysis-by-analysis issue came up during a consultation with a manufacturing client.  Their sales and marketing team used a top-notch customer relationship management system.  The marketing team had attended a number of trade shows during which they gathered, qualified and entered new leads into CRM.  But they were frustrated after looking back at results because they found that the sales team had worked almost none of the leads that they had invested so much time into gathering.  The sales team responded that they had tried, but all the leads they worked were stale and non-productive.

Taking a closer look into it, we found that their organization had thousands of leads with hundreds assigned to each Sales Rep.  When new leads were being added to their CRM system the reps had no way of easily finding the best or newest leads.  The few leads that they did attempt to work were often quite old – some of them had even gone out of business.  After several attempts, most sales people found more productive ways to spend their time.

The root of the problem was simple: The list of leads was too long and no methods or training were provided to enable the sales team to easily find the newest and most qualified available leads.  By keeping a shorter more manageable list of leads, the organization was able to boost the number of leads that were worked and that were eventually converted into new business.  Below are some tips to help you to follow this best practice and keep your lists short.

Three Tips to Keep Your CRM Lists Short

So how do you keep your lists short and manageable?  Here are three tips to get you started.

Tip 1: Use Activities – Not Opportunities

A lot of salespeople tend to use opportunities in their CRM system as a way to make sure that they don’t forget to follow-up with important prospects.  The problem with this is that they can end up with a very long list of opportunities and, as a result, some of the real opportunities may slip through the cracks.  The better approach is to create a follow-up activity for important prospects (that do not yet have a real opportunity) and to let an opportunity be an opportunity.

It is important to understand that activity management is not always a natural thing in CRM, so you’ll need to think about your process for doing this and provide sufficient training to your sales team.  Click here for an earlier blog on ideas to help with activity management.  If you decide that activity management won’t fully address this need for your sales team, then consider creating an opportunity stage that defines unqualified opportunities (such as “pre-qualified”) – and follow tip #3 to show them just the best opportunities.

image Tip 2: Keep Activities Manageable

If you follow Tip #1, then you may find that the list of activities for your sales team can become very long.  Like all other long lists, this can become overwhelming and they may discontinue using the list.  So be sure you’ve provided tools and training to easily manage their tasks so that they can quickly arrange this list each day and push low priority tasks to a future date.

Tip 3: Filter Your Views

The best CRM solutions, such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM and include the ability to easily filter records.  This is a powerful capability that can allow you to show your team only the most important records that they should focus on.  One way that the opening case study about unworked leads was handled was to create a view of “Recent Trade Show Leads” that showed only recent leads – so that sales could easily filter out the older leads.

A set of views that we include in every project to help keep users focused:

  • My Today’s Activities: So users can see just what they need to do today
  • Neglected Leads, Accounts, Contacts: So users can see high priority companies or individuals who have not had any contact within a period of time
  • Past Due Opportunities, Cases: So users can see items that may be slipping through the cracks

One note on using views: Just like all other lists, you should keep your list of views short.  If a sales rep goes to select a view and is confronted with a list of 30 to choose from, he or she may get frustrated and move on without finding what they need.

Adoption Reporting - Monitor List Counts

How will you know if your users are following best practices and keeping their lists short?  To an extent, this should be happening in their manager meetings (a topic for another blog).  But this can also be monitored centrally.  Your CRM leadership team should include in their list of user adoption reports a report to monitor the number of records that each user is seeing in their most important views.  You can quickly identify opportunities to improve your CRM views and/or to provide additional training and coaching to your users by designing a simple report for this purpose.

Need help keeping your lists short, improving user adoption or implementing CRM? 
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