A Sales CRM alone is a sub optimal solution

If you are an enterprise sales leader and don’t have a lead management system or a sales CRM this might sound familiar:

“We have a large sales workforce, dispersed nationwide. We generate hundreds of leads every day, which are qualified and then assigned to the field sales team, manually through email. Once these leads are assigned there is no way of knowing what happens – did the salesperson get it? Did he act on it? At what stage is the lead? Most of them maintain the status in their physical notebooks. The daily activity report that they are supposed to make every day never comes on time and is always a pain to collate and get any meaningful insight out of.”


“We have clearly defined monthly targets for each person, each manager, region, product, etc. Since we don’t have visibility into the activities and the current pipeline status, we have daily, weekly, monthly reviews with managers based on these targets. Managers, in turn, follow up with their sales reps based on these targets. Each one of them is involved in calling up their reps one by one every morning to get a status on their activities and what will they be closing for the day.”


“The bigger problem is that since the only analytics we get are based on actual sales, usually available after the month end, we are not in a position to proactively course correct or influence the outcomes in any meaningful manner.”


To address your problems, you may be considering investing in a lead management system, and here’s how you might be thinking:

“If we have a lead management system, we will have accurate pipeline and activity data in addition to the sales data. This will allow us to track sales, take proactive action, improve conversion and drive sales productivity to the levels we desire.”

Well, the thought process is correct from the leader’s point of view. However, there is a critical assumption you are making, which if invalid, will derail your well-intentioned lead management initiative. The assumption is that your sales teams will regularly and accurately enter data into your sales CRM.

I’m sure you have heard it before but let me repeat it – salespeople do not like to enter data into a CRM. And here’s why.

A typical sales CRM, the way it is designed, is just a secure database with forms and workflows on top of it. It is good for capturing data, storing it and producing pre-defined reports out of it. Typical CRMs are designed for the CXOs and their need for understanding where the business stands at present, and forecasting future performance. CXOs need to analyze the business from multiple angles, which means that more information needs to be collected from the sales team. This gives rise to forms that are lengthy and difficult to fill.


From a salesperson’s perspective, in addition to meeting clients, traveling, writing proposals, following up for payments etc. he or she now has to add all this data into a system that is not easy to use. After a tiring day of traveling and meetings, it is hard to motivate oneself to enter data. Most salespeople wait till the weekend to fill the data, by which time they may have forgotten the details of the meetings they had earlier in the week. If they do fill the data regularly, the managerial follow up that happens on each deal is another matter to contend with. If the organization believes in a strict enforcement of process, many salespeople may enter bogus data just to tick the boxes. Inevitably, salespeople gradually stop using the system, resulting in a data drought and your ambitious sales CRM initiative dies a slow death.



But what do you do? Sales data, sales productivity, and management are just too crucial to leave to chance. Here’s our take on how to make it work:

If you take a step back, you will see that a lead management system on its own does nothing for the salesperson. To make a sales rep use a system, he or she has to see value in it. Salespeople will see value when a system makes them more productive and makes their life easier. Here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of things that a salesperson would find valuable:


  • Reminders and notifications (for meetings, pending tasks, newly assigned leads etc.)
  • Notifications based on insights e.g. clients that he or she should call or leads that are rotting or clients he or she has not contacted at all
  • Business card scanning to take the tedium out of typing out each contact separately
  • Content, that is delivered in the context of a sales workflow e.g. a sales presentation embedded in the lead screen, when the lead is in the initial stages, with the facility to mail it from the screen itself
  • The ability to message or call clients without the need to open another app
  • A mobile app that has the full functionality to view and update records
  • A mobile app which is offline capable i.e. users can use it even if there is no network
  • Ready and comprehensive analytics on the performance of the sales rep available daily
  • Coaching recommendations and tips that are driven by analytics
  • Training content that is available based on coaching recommendations or performance data


A few of these features are part of CRM functionality and others are usually part of products, broadly categorized as sales enablement systems. Therefore, for a sales management initiative to be truly successful, a conventional lead management system needs to be integrated with one or more sales enablement tools, delivered ideally through a single interface. Using this approach, along with some strong top management endorsement, one can very confidently aim for a steady state usage of 85%+ of the lead management system. This kind of usage will provide both complete and accurate data that is so crucial for sales leadership teams.

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