What Would You Do? – No One is Using the CRM

For this weeks What Would You Do Wednesdays I thought I would flip the switch and address a sales management and leadership issue. I know every manager and sales organization struggles with the issue of getting their sales people to keep the CRM system up to date. Updating the CRM has plagued sales organizations since the first centralized CRM was deployed.

CRM is a key element to effective sales organizations. If done correctly CRM is a huge asset to both the sales team and the executive team. It’s critical for leadership to create an environment where CRM is embraced.  Poor Tom needs some help.

Tom had been promoted to VP of Sales 12 months ago.  His predecessor had lost the confidence of the team and management and was asked to leave. When Tom took over the team revenue was down 25%.  Morale on the team was at an all-time low.  The best sales people were leaving, the average sales people were complaining and the bottom 10% weren’t doing anything. There was very little interaction between product and sales. There was little visibility into the pipeline.  The sales process was broken. Reporting was non-existent.  Forecasting revenue and sales was virtually impossible. The executive team was exacerbated. They wanted someone to turn things around.

Tom sold himself as a turn-around expert. He campaigned on an ability to bring order back, to increase morale, to exceed revenue, and to get the team cranking on all cylinders.  In his interview Tom outlined a plan that included winning back their best performers, coaching up their B players and getting rid of under-performers.  He committed to instituting an effective sales process and reporting structure. Tom had conviced the executive team he would get them back on track.

Now a year into it Tom has been mostly successful. He’s pruned the team of under-performers. He’s built a team of A players. Morale is better. The team is on track to make quota. Product and sales are working hand in hand. It’s been going so well, they are launching a new innovative product, based on sales feedback, that is going to give them a leg up on their competitor.  For the most part, Tom is a success.  Except for one nagging issue.  He has been unable deliver on his promise to improve pipeline visibility, reporting and forecasting. Visibility has improved.  Tom’s created a series of executive dashboards and reports.  The problem is they aren’t accurate.  The sales team just will not update the CRM consistently or regularly.  Close dates are off. Deals that were lost are still in the system.  New deals aren’t showin up  etc. In spite of all his efforts and the good progress Tom has not been able to solve this problem.

Tom has tried everything and nothing seems to work.  He can not get the team to use the CRM. Tom will not be perceived as a success if he can’t solve this problem.  The executive team is happy with his performance to date, but if he can’t improve forecasting accuracy, reporting and leverage the CRM investment the company made, he won’t be consider a success much longer.

What should Tom do?

What would you do if you were Tom?

I’m anticipating some good feedback on this one.  CRM is a hot topic for both sales management AND sales people.  I don’t think the sales people have enough say in the CRM process and I’m curious what you would say to management around this issue.

Have at it, sales people and sales management, how does Tom get his team to regularly update the CRM with accurate information? Leave your thoughts in the comments.