No Pain, No Gain

Too many early CRM implementations were initiated by IT. These projects were undertaken to invoke standards or improve service. However, they often meant that people in sales, marketing, and support would have to do things differently, even if they weren't in pain from the current arrangement. As a result, there was poor adoption of the new systems. A more direct route to acceptance is to address issues that are causing pain in the sales and marketing arena. Increased productivity sounds good, but it's vague. For example, increased productivity in sales can translate to higher quota
. Without clear understanding of how technology is going to make attaining higher revenue figures easier, or at least doable, expect stiff resistance to having to do more. So, how can you identify productivity blockers? A sales executive might ask, Why can't we double your quota right now? After the usual wails and cries of disbelief, more specific answers would arise: Because I'd quit. Because I couldn't make that many calls. Because finding out who to call upon takes more time than the call itself. Because each call I spend more time talking about service issues/complaints than about additional services customers would like. Because... Stick with it until you get to real pains--real barriers to individual and team success. Find the Pain and Stick With It Too often the first answer is accepted, but not pursued. For example, everyone will agree that taking two days to follow up a service call is too long. But this agreement is at an intellectual level. You want to get down to real pain at a visceral level. There are a couple reasons for doing so. First, if it doesn't really hurt that much, then it may not really be a problem worth solving. Second is that if it does hurt that much the pain can be the basis for your ROI calculations. So before rushing off to fix a pain point, find out how bad it hurts. In the example above I'm citing an actual software company that sells help desk software. When customers called in and couldn't get timely/accurate support answers, they got really upset. They were more than willing to share their ire with anyone who would listen. This translated into two major problems for sales: 1) lack of happy references, and 2) a bad reputation with new prospects. There were also the attendant costs of the help desk people not working efficiently, but simply running from one burning fire to another. This took its toll on morale. Clearly, this was a problem worth solving. However, while folks were still in this state of pain recollection, I asked them how much it was worth to them to have the problem solved. They offered a big number. This is important, because you're not always able to tally up hard costs. But if the pain is real, the folks experiencing the pain will have some value associated with its relief. It doesn't matter whether the number is purely rational; what does matter is that in preparing your ROI argument you document all the values from all the people who are experiencing the problem firsthand. Making the Internal Sale This exercise is also worthwhile for a related reason. Remember, you only want to solve real problems. However, if you've identified some of these, gone on to work with the people experiencing them firsthand, and gotten their sense of what a solution would be worth, it's unlikely that these people would resist the implementation. You stand a better chance of winning the hearts and minds of end users by addressing their serious issues. And, if you have dollar figures associated with these improvements, your argument should stand up better with finance and senior management's reviews. In The Sales & Marketing Excellence Challenge: Changing How the Game Is Played, which I coauthored with Jim Dickie, here's what John Williams, former senior executive vice president of worldwide field operations for Storage Tek, said about launching its very successful CRM project. "In 1992 Storage Tek was like many companies today, in fact they were probably worse. They were emerging from bankruptcy and was two years away from introducing new technology. An axiom of CRM is 'Get your process straight, then automate.' Yet very few companies are up to speed on how their sales operations are functioning. "Upon visiting each sales office, John discovered it took 50 "real face-to-face calls" over a nine-month period to close a sale--at an average cost of $1200 per call. When he flow charted the quote-to-cash cycle, even using very small print, the chart was over eight feet long. "My first task was to create the vision for how we needed to sell going forward. The vision document reviewed the metrics of how we were presently performing; detailed the holes in the way we did business; laid out the new sales process; pointed out where efficiency, effectiveness, and communications improvements needed to be made to implement that process; and finally, defined the technology tools the team would need to support their work efforts. "Our first goal was to win the sales force's support for the initiative. To do that we needed to pick a few things, two or three, that could really make a difference to them, and do those extremely well. "We were not going for a Rolls Royce right out of the chute; we were going for a steady, reliable jeep. Something we could get out quickly, something that could go wherever the sales force went, something that added real value. "The initial rollout included a proposal generation system, a presentation system, and an opportunity manager that functioned as the sales people's right-hand desk drawer, holding all of their customer files, which allowed them to be more effective when working remotely. "After six months of active usage, I was able to go back to the board and show in hard dollars, to the CFO's satisfaction, that we had achieved the full ROI that we had set for the project. By focusing on new ways to do things, and giving sales people the information and tools they needed to do their jobs, we collapsed the sell cycle down from 50 calls to 35. We reduced the sell cycle length from nine months down to seven. We reduced the cost of a sales call by 60 percent. We dramatically increased our service revenues. Prior to starting the project, I would have been happy if we had achieved any of these numbers, and here we did them all in six months." This is truly a CRM success story. In about four years Storage Tek more than tripled revenues from $700 million to $2.2 billion without adding a single headcount in sales. People, and by extension organizations, move for one of two reasons: 1) avoidance of pain; 2) hope of gain. Even when both motivators are present, relieving pain always takes priority. Let this be your key in determining which projects are worth undertaking and in what order and you'll make a real contribution to your company's productivity, win enthusiastic support, and have a solid basis for the dollars needed to make it happen. About the Author Barry Trailer is a partner for CSO Insights and coauthor with Jim Dickie of The Sales & Marketing Excellence Challenge: Changing How the Game Is Played, available through Amazon.com. Barry can be reached through his Web site, www.CSOinsights.com.
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