Forget relying on Excel spreadsheets, handwritten notes and your memory to connect with and convert a customer; for as long as modern sales processes have been around, customer relationship management systems, or CRMs, have also been on the scene.Let’s be honest though: salespeople and CRMs haven’t always seen eye to eye. CRMs are designed to help businesses stay connected with customers, streamline processes and improve profitability. But the biggest issue that I’ve seen with the classic CRMs is that they are implemented by bosses and business stakeholders so they can monitor their sales force and make sure they’re doing what they’re being paid to do. For them, a CRM is a justification tool more than anything else. That’s the measure of success after all: make more phone calls, get in front of more customers and make more money … but with these systems a tonne of admin is also required before a salesperson can get to that point.
Don’t Say the C Word
Understandably then, managing a CRM has always been a bit of a chore for a salesperson. Old systems are clunky and cumbersome to use, and difficult (if not impossible) to integrate with other systems. Salespeople work across different modes of communication like email and phone and use a range of different systems at any given time, then waste loads of time and effort transferring everything manually across to their CRM. ‘Ctrl C, Ctrl V’ is every salesperson’s most common keyboard shortcut.
A CRM is undoubtedly an effective way to manage customer relationships, but the process of keeping it up-to-date can be a chore, especially when it means salespeople end up spending more time on admin than doing what they’re actually good at: making sales.
Fast-forward to 2018 and modern CRMs have made significant headway in improving productivity and profitability. They’re not sales limiters anymore; they’re now sales enablement tools. Modern CRMs make life easier, and they enable salespeople to focus on getting out in front of people, not sitting behind a computer all day.
A massive focus on automation means that humans really only have to monitor a modern CRM, not constantly maintain it. A great CRM like HubSpot automates the processes that a salesperson might have had to do manually even just a few years ago, especially sending out welcome, follow-up and on-boarding emails. Its relationship with online means that it can intuitively scour the internet for information that will help reinforce a relationship between a business and a customer like LinkedIn profiles, contact details and company information, creating a single view of a customer that’s housed in one place. And trusting that the bulk of admin is automatically taken care of enables a salesperson to get straight into the oh-so-important phase of negotiation.
The Start of a Beautiful Friendship
When I joined a startup in 2010, I had to start a new commission structure from scratch. While I’d worked with plenty in the past, I’d never created one myself, so I did what anyone in my position would do: I talked to Google.
I stumbled across a blog and a whole lot of information including a spreadsheet to get me started, by a company called HubSpot. Later, I needed to create a social media strategy so I talked to Google again. Again, I ended up on a blog (you guessed it: also by HubSpot) that gave me all the tools I needed to get the most out of my strategy - and my money.
At the time I thought, “These guys are stupid. They’re giving me all this stuff and they haven’t tried to sell me anything.” I’d filled out all the forms and given them my contact details - I’d given them permission to contact me - and they hadn’t sent me anything. Being a salesperson, I was genuinely surprised.
Then I got invited to a HubSpot event. In the meantime I’d changed roles, even companies. When I sat down with someone from HubSpot, I was shown the physical journey I’d taken as a user. By providing me with useful content and resources they’d been able to track me from one role to the next, but they knew I wasn’t able to be sold to because I wasn’t showing the right triggers. When I was ready to be sold to, I had my wallet in my hand ready and waiting. They didn’t need a big sales pitch because I was already there. After our history together, of course I was going to trust these people. Of course I wanted to engage in their services. And they knew I was at that point where I was ready to say ‘yes’ because they’d been able to track me in their CRM.
The Evolution of Sales
10 years ago I might have cold-called 100 people who didn’t care about my product, maybe get five meetings (possibly only because I was very persuasive over the phone), then finally get a sale three months down the track. Today I can use technology like HubSpot’s CRM to discover patterns and triggers of my prospects or leads then convert them to customers by using customised content. I now have the insight and make sure I wait until the timing is right before I pull the trigger on the sales pitch.
A great CRM like HubSpot really is best-practice for salespeople do what they’re best at: negotiating and making sales.To find out how you could transform the functionality of your sales force and improve the profitability (and productivity) of your business thanks to the power of a new CRM, book a time with me, lets grab a coffee and chat.