7 Tips on Managing People and Pipeline with CRM

Gartner found that more than half of CRM implementations fail, leading to a loss of 10% of revenue per year (Hype Cycle for CRM Sales, 2012. July 18, 2012). Here is how you can avoid being in the bottom half.

1. Managing people and pipeline is fundamentally a people process. The CRM system should support this not replace it.

2. The best management and control is self-management and self-control. The CRM system needs to support this. The way it supports it is by organizing the activities by opportunity value and close date. If these are correct, the reps have a better chance of prioritizing work themselves.

3. The work that makes reps most effective should be clearly understood and communicated. The CRM system needs to be configured to reflect the work that is expected of reps. If they are expected to do a lot of cold calling then there should be fields that capture cold calling information (to determine quantity and quality). There should be reports and dashboards that show performance against expectation.

4. Goals and processes change. The CRM system needs to change to reflect them as quickly as other changes happen. If a new product is launched, new product information needs to be reflected in the CRM system. Otherwise the CRM becomes redundant - quickly if the business is changing quickly.

5. Manage people as closely or as lightly as you would without a CRM system.A top class rep requires less management than an average one. Encourage use of the CRM system that supports top reps' career development e.g. Give them access to reports to coach others or get them to document their expertise and put it in the the CRM system for others to use in templates. A rep that needs a lot of direction should be getting a lot of it automatically through the CRM system. This can be a specific target for activities on a daily basis or it could be capturing detailed information about an opportunity. Get good reps to show weaker ones the info they capture in the CRM system as part of the sales process.

6. Randomly dip into the CRM system to look for good things to praise. Richard Branson says a feature of his childhood was being praised lots and criticized little.

7. Keep calm in a storm. Don't blame the lack of use of CRM for all business problems. Don't blame inaccurate data for a crisis. Don't leave it this late to get good usage of CRM. Be reasonable about what you expect to be captured in the system. Be consistent about it in good times and bad. Start slowly and improve gradually.