I Hate CRM Systems, But They Work!

I am coaching a number of sales reps who are being forced to partake in their company’s CRM software. You’d think they were being tortured in some Iranian prison by the way they talk about how much they cannot stand recording every inane detail. They don’t understand why they need to participate and see the systems only as “a way for management to keep track of me.” In a former life I, too, was committed to similar indentured servitude and hated it every bit as much.

Until this happened…

Several years ago, one of my clients was a company in the MidWest named Wetzel Brothers. To me, they were just another client. I trained two or three of their reps and they were pleased with the results. So pleased, in fact, that the president of the company, Mike Draver, called me to suggest that I call on their parent company, Consolidated Graphics, out of Houston.

Never heard of them, I told Mike, but OK. So, given the name of Rachel Keonig, I began the pursuit of a bigger fish. It took a few calls to get through, but dropping the name of “Mike Draver” helped since he, apparently, had been singing my praises to Rachel as well. Eventually, we spoke.

I related the benefits of the coaching program—Get Sales NOW!—that Mike had been raving to her about. Along the way, she asked where I was from. Since no one knows where Duxbury, MA, is, I told her I was in the Boston area.

“Oh,” she said, “I went to high school in Needham.” Coincidentally, so did I. Apparently, we were two years apart and blah, blah, blah, we talked about school and Red Sox and Rachel told me she’d keep me in mind.

When I got off of the phone, I took the time to fill in all of the information related to the call in my CRM system, including the Needham High School connection. End of story. I moved on to the next item on my to do list.

As a 30 year sales veteran, Bill has the perspective of a been-there, done-that sales rep in the commercial print arena. Following sales fundamentals and giving unapologetically "old school" advice, he writes and speaks in an entertaining fashion to make his points to sales people and owners who sell. "Bill Farquharson will drive your sales momentum."
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  • http://Kelly Kelly

    I could not agree with this more! I was “forced” to use Goldmine, then we switched to SalesForce.com, and at a new company I had to learn the Microsoft CRM System. Each time, I swore I would not be able to learn the new system, and each time, within one week, i was asking myself how I ever lived without it. Remembering back to my first days in sales when everything was on 3×5 cards and my account records were in binders alphabetically, I thank my lucky stars every day for CRM.

    I’ll go you one better. Owners and managers have a right to know what you are up to every day, unless, of course, you are paid 100% by commission. If you take a base salary that is not tied into sales performance, you should expect that the ownership should at least want some inkling of how you spend your days. I’m sure that is a very unpopular opinion, but, tough.

  • http://NoelWard Noel Ward

    It’s a love-hate relationship. I know lots of sales guys at printers who hate these tools, but they grudgingly admit they really do work if used correctly.

    The sales guys who are real hunters seem to mind less, as the tools just make them do stuff they do anyway, just in a routinized manner. (They just don’t like the routine, or someone telling them what to do.)

    The guys who really hate them seem to be the gatherers or herders–the order takers–who want to take the easy way out.

  • http://DanielFerreira Daniel Ferreira

    This is a great example of why CRM is a critical tool today. Another good practical use of the information available is call logging.

    Have you ever had difficulty getting a busy person back on the telephone, even after he or she had clearly expressed interest? Take a look at their history. It turns out that just about everyone has routines and habits. You may discover that there is a pattern.

    This tactic is a concrete way to plan to initiate contact at a time that works for the customer. In the meantime, as the Manana Man might say, you could go sell something rather than listen to voicemail!