Does Your Sales Methodology Mesh With Your CRM Goals?

In its latest survey of more than 1,300 sales managers and executives, CSO Insights concluded, "companies that are adopting formal sales methodologies will outperform those that have no formal methodology." In addition, CSO Insights uncovered that "while 53 percent of the firms surveyed have implemented a customer relationship management (CRM) system, only 26 percent of those firms were achieving significant improvements in performance." The survey results indicate also that most organizations with successful CRM implementations have in general adopted formal sales methodologies. In other words, one key to CRM success is to align sales process with CRM functions. There are three choices for aligning standardized sales process with CRM capabilities:
  • Sales methodology modules
  • Embedded Web services
  • Customized modifications To make it easier for customers to achieve sales process/CRM functionality alignment, some CRM solution providers have created modules or extensions of their offerings that embrace standard sales methodologies. Although some CRM vendors add support for a formal sales methodology inside their CRM system, this approach may require some compromises of the sales process because of the boundaries inherent in any CRM system architecture. For instance, some methodologies include graphical analysis of buyer organizations, which can be difficult to replicate in many CRM applications. To avoid this kind of process compromise, customers may also elect to embed new Web-services applets within a CRM system, thereby preserving the one database advantage of CRM, while adding full support for standardized methodologies. For example, some vendors offer the sales methodologies application to run as a standalone application, or as an embedded service within CRM applications, providing integrated pop-up functionality for all aspects of the formal sales process. The embedded Web-services approach also provides an opportunity for customers with multiple CRM or contact-management systems to support one sales methodology consistently, regardless of the CRM technology diversity. For example, a company that uses different CRM applications in different divisions or operating units could embed a sales methodology tool in each, and be able to provide consistent sales process support with the same look and feel, regardless of the technology foundation. A third--and most expensive--choice for aligning CRM with formal sales methodology is to customize the application itself, sometimes blending the previously described approaches. If the CRM system is homegrown or developed in-house, this may be the only option available. The advantage is that the sales process support will be 100 percent tailored to a company's specific needs. However, this approach is traditionally very time consuming, and therefore, very expensive. About the Author Tim Sullivan brings more than two decades of sales, marketing, and management consulting experience to his role as director of product marketing and development at Sales Performance International, a sales consultancy focused on increasing sales effectiveness. Before joining SPI, Tim was senior director of product marketing for the multichannel services team at Siebel Systems, where he managed solution development and marketing for advanced sales methodologies. Previously, he served as vice president of marketing for Target Marketing Systems, a founding firm of OnTarget Inc. In this capacity he supervised execution of marketing communications, business development programs, and strategic business alliances. Siebel Systems acquired OnTarget in December 1999. Prior to joining OnTarget, Tim was vice president and general manager for high-technology industry consulting and research firm Culpepper and Associates, where he authored dozens of books and reports on management best practices. Tim began his career in high-technology sales and marketing with Management Science America (later Dun & Bradstreet Software), where he held sales operations and marketing positions during his 10-year tenure. Tim can be reached at TSullivan@spisales.com
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