The need for more SALES features in CRM for LO Teams

Written by
Chris King

Over the years of CRM evolution, the focus on sales automation and lead management has gotten lost in the process of adding customer service, marketing and other platform add-ons and we need to get it back!

A robust CRM platform provides essential/easy-to-use tools and features for sales teams as a priority and not as an after-thought, enabling sales professionals to become selling “machines!"

💡Before CRM was a household name, it was known mostly as SFA - great at one thing: sales follow-up, lead management & lead tracking.

A quick history

Long before CRM (Customer Relationship Management), the internet and automated marketing, the only automation tools aside from the Rolodex and Yellow Pages were very simple contact management software apps. As these applications grew in features and adoption, an industry was born...SFA aka Sales Force Automation.

Given the limited technology available, most of the focus was placed on improving efficiencies in the sales world: targeted follow-up, consistent sales flow strategies and even an ability to use SFA on the road with the advent of pioneering mobile devices like the Palm Pilot and Blackberry (Gen Z feel free to Google these).

In time and with the advent of the internet, SFA apps grew exponentially in abilities, features and complexities. This included the addition of customer service and marketing modules.

The shiny new BuzzWord

With the evolution of these key additions, platform scopes and industry segments, it seemed appropriate to introduce a new name and mindset. And so, the term CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, was born.

At the time, I thought this was super exciting! Finally, the word “Customer” was included in the core acronym. After all, SFA was no longer just about focusing on improving the efficiencies of the sales team but enhancing relationships with customers.

This terminology became the darling of Wall Street and C-teams all over the world. The CRM industry began to explode and was no longer a “nice to have sales tool” but a must-have platform in most boardroom budget and planning discussions.

The other shoe drops...

💡Over time, there was increased focus on customer service & marketing that started to diminish the impact of the original sales enablement intent.

But with every good thing, there are typically a few negatives that tend to come along for the ride. In the case of CRM, the negatives were complexities and changes in focus and priorities for users’ needs.

What started as literally a sales machine application, grew into a global, overarching mega platform that was now attempting to include any features that even remotely involved the customer or prospect.

Don’t get me wrong...the ability to provision a single platform that could offer a “360 view” of the customer was a great achievement. But that achievement came to muddy the waters for the single-minded sales warrior whose sole focus and compensation was derived from increasing this year’s sales over the previous year and anything else was just noise.

The “good ol’ days” SFA app that could not be any easier to use for tracking sales calls was long gone. The shiny new CRM now forced a barrage of additional “information” that was needed to grease the wheels of the engine so that all of the other components would work. Sales teams became overwhelmed and bogged down with data entry and micro-management, and in numerous cases, they got the heck out of sales!

What’s the definition of CRM in 2024?

So that leads us to the CRM world of today. If I were to ask anyone in the sales world what a CRM is, an increasing number of respondents would answer: “It’s a marketing system” or “It’s a customer support system” and sadly, they would not even connect the tech to its humble beginnings of SFA and contact management.

There’s no doubt in my mind as to why this trend has impacted the adoption rate amongst sales teams when rolling out CRM platforms.

This is why we need to put the “Sales” back in! I’m not saying we need to remove the other great things that CRM provides - all of those capabilities are certainly having a huge positive impact on the progression of business automation.

But, if we want to win back the original “customer” of CRM, which was the sales professional, we need to find a way to give them some much-needed CRM-TLC.

How to truly enable sales with your CRM

💡A robust CRM platform provides essential/easy-to-use tools and features for SALES teams as a priority and not as an after-thought - enabling sales professionals to become selling “machines”!

It starts with going back to basics...what made the initial sales software apps useful?

It was more than just features and was a tailored and efficient platform that truly aligned with these sales automation & lead management goals, objectives, strategies and tactics, reinforcing the ability to execute.

Implementing a CRM is NOT an overnight homework’s a guided re-tooling that will take a lot of effort, planning, and feedback to get it right. Moreover, it will involve the entire sales force getting together to discuss the following:

  1. The inefficiencies with the current tools and platform
  2. Changes needed, possibly resulting in a scope for more robust platforms, integrations and enablement
  3. Implementation plan of those changes to include a heavy dosage of ongoing training and feedback

Final Thoughts: putting the “Sales” back into CRM

It starts at the top. If the CEO and executive management are not on board with embracing this change and new results-driven mindset, the implementation will fail. Secondly, if sales managers are not heavily involved and supportive of the will also fail.

Lastly but most importantly, this change will impact your entire sales team, as do any system and process changes. In some cases, there will be a reluctance to change habits. But my experience, having been involved in SFA and CRM for the past 35 years, is that the best sales professionals are always looking for a better weapon if it’s going to help them beat last year’s numbers. Be sure to include these key team members and their feedback when planning out your changes, as they are typically responsible for 80% of your company’s sales revenues. That plus a well-oiled sales machine is worth gold in 2024!

For a guided analysis of your current CRM tools - feel free to reach out to the experts in tailored efficiency!

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