Saturday, February 23, 2008

17) The Sales Manager

Before I discovered the CRM Dilemma
I was working with one of the largest regions in the company. The head of the region was begging for CRM, and had promised that "Our people WILL use CRM." since I knew "Pressure from above" increases CRM adoption, I made them a pilot region. This story involves a general manager, a sales manager, myself, and 30+ sales people. These events all happened before I discovered "The CRM Dilemma." Now that I have completed this research, what happened in this region makes much more sense. I now know that when CRM is implemented in this region, the results will not be what I anticipated at the time.

The General Manager: As far as clients go, "Jim" was a dream come true for this CRM Project Lead. Young, MBA, analytical, information driven, and very hospitable. As a stop-gap measure, "Jim" had instituted and mandated an Access database log of activities be kept by all sales reps. This hadn't worked because "It was too slow." I had noted that "Jim" had tendencies towards micro management which made the sales rep in me cringe. But I wasn't one of the sales reps in his region, I was the CRM Project Lead who was looking for "Executive buy-in," and I had found it! "Jim" had recently instituted a policy that all managers and sales reps had to keep their Outlook calendars populated with appointments. They were also to add notes to the appontment in Outlook after meeting with a customer. "Jim" was having trouble getting "Terry" the sales manager to keep his own calendar populated.

"Jim" was looking for CRM to provide:
  • Sales rep activity snapshot reports.
  • Understanding about the "Mood" of customers
  • Help to "Keep each other in the loop" because multiple people were calling on the same customers.

The Sales Manager: My first meeting with "Terry" went very well I thought. He was responsible for one of the largest sales force in the company. "Terry" is a seasoned veteran and seemed quite laid back and he reminded me of the sales manager I had when I was a rep. My sales manager was, and remains, the best sales "Coach" I have ever encountered. I remember thinking I was a little concerned that "Terry" may not pressure his reps to use CRM, much like my own sales manager hadn't. "Terry" was hoping CRM would:
  • Help him communicate better with his sales reps
  • Because more employees were now calling on the same customers, they needed a way to communicate with each other so that customers received a consistent message
  • Help to provide better customer service

Before I get to the sales force, you need to know about the sales meetings.

Two Sales Meetings - Big Differences

I had the pleasure of being invited to two sales meetings for this region. The first meeting was run by "Terry" the sales manager, without "Jim" in the room because he was out of town. The second sales meeting was run by the general manager "Jim" with "Terry" in the room.

The meeting run by "Terry" was relaxed with a lot of discussion. "Terry" spoke a little on CRM but I was disappointed there wasn't a stronger declaration. Watching "Terry" in action solidified my opinion that his true strength was in being a sales "Coach." The sales reps clearly liked "Terry" and responded well to him. I also became more concerned that "Terry" wasn't going to put enough pressure on his sales reps to use CRM when we rolled it out.

The meeting run by "Jim" was entirely different. There was very little discussion and it was very much lecture-style. "Jim" spent quite some time talking about CRM and the benefits of CRM to the region. "Jim" made it very clear that the sales force would be expected to use CRM and usage reports would be looked at by him. When "Terry" got up to speak, I noticed he was quite different than when "Jim" wasn't in the room at the last meeting. I could tell there was a tension in management styles between the two.

The Sales Force: This is a very dedicated and diverse group, struggling to meet all their goals in a declining economy. As I interviewed them in groups and individually, I noted that "Terry" was highly respected by them but they didn't like "Jim" very much because of his micro-management style. The sales reps I spoke with had told me they were using their Outlook calendars to record appointments and adding notes. They expressed concern about being micro managed through CRM. We assured them that CRM was being designed as a tool for them. The main frustration they were consitently expressing was that many employees were now calling on "Their customers" and they needed to be kept in the loop on what was being said to customers. In the past, only the sales reps would be calling on customers so this was a huge change for them. They were pleased that CRM could be used to communicate to each other about what needed to be done after a department called on a customer.

Leading Indicators: Now that I understand "The CRM Dilemma," there were several indicators that this CRM pilot will not produce the desired results.

  • I thought "Terry" was avoiding me - After our intitial meeting, I was never able to get a follow up meeting with the sales manager. Since I was only there to help him, this puzzled me.
  • "Terry" was being pressured by "Jim" to be harder on the sales force and monitor their activities more closely.
  • While it is true that sales reps had used the re-occuring appointments feature in Outlook to populate their calendars, not one of them was filling in notes after the customer appointment.
  • No call reporting was done by sales reps
  • It was clear to me that "Jim" wanted quantifiable data from CRM in order to make business decisions. These decisions would not neccessarily be in the best interest of "Terry" and the sales force.

The REAL story through the lens of "The CRM Dilemma"

I now understand the serious dilemma faced by "Terry" the sales manager in the implementation of CRM. In fact, "Terry" already understands the basics of "The CRM Dilemma," but he can't say anything about it. As the leader and protector of his sales force, he knows they need CRM so they can communicate needed information between each other. "Terry" also knows that with the benefits of CRM comes a huge pack of misery for him and his sales team. In the end, "The CRM Dilemma" will prevail and this CRM initiative will fail:

  • "Terry" will not make his reps record their "Low Card" activities, unless he is forced to do so by "Jim"
  • If "Terry" forces his reps to record their "Low Card" activities, "Jim" will begin to run reports on the quantifiable, "Low Card"activities of the reps.
  • "Terry" will run no such reports because he does not believe in activity control and prefers to coach his reps based on outcomes.
  • "Jim" will then go to "Terry" and tell him the changes he needs to implement with the sales force, based on this information
  • "Terry" may go to his reps and "Coach" them on what to put into CRM (Gaming) with the purpose of protecting him and his reps from "Jim"
  • If reps are entering activities into CRM, but are "Gaming," if "Jim" figures this out, he will either put yet more pressure on "Terry," or he will start going directly to the reps and bypass "Terry."
  • The best solution for "Terry" and his sales force is to make CRM go away. If he could just take the "Low Card" activity reports out of CRM, they could all use it as the tool it was intended to be in the first place. This great sales team won't be able to take advantage of the "High Card" communication tools that they really need because "Low Card" activity controls are attached to the system.
  • "I know I should be using CRM but.........." will be the refrain heard throughout the sales force.
  • If they use CRM just for "High Card" communications, it will negate the excuses they need to use to get rid of CRM.
  • CRM will have to die. It will die as long as the entire sales force works together.

To "Terry" and all the other brilliant sales coaches out there, I finally understand what you have been thinking, but not saying. In PACT, I offer a solution that addresses your concerns and allows you to have the tools you really need. There is finally research to prove "The CRM Dilemma" exists and is all too real.

As always, I welcome your comments. In my next post I will share more CRM implementation situations where "The CRM Dilemma" was staring me in the face. I will also admit and share my own story as a sales rep, being asked to share my ACT information, and how "The CRM Dilemma" affected my actions.

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