Let’s set the record straight. CRM is supposed to stand for ‘Customer Relationship Management’. But with current CRM that’s just about where the relationship to your customer ends. If you believe knowing your customer and understanding their needs gives you a greater chance you to solve their problems with your solution then what’s on the market today will be of little or no help. The original CRM systems were founded on the belief that if you could see the world through your customer’s eyes, then you will know what they buy and how they buy. Early CRM captured relevant information about your customer. Their likes, dislikes, family names and birthdates, hobbies, past buying experiences, how they are evaluated and compensated, personal preferences etc. were all kept on record. These systems got you closer to your customers and help you build a relationship by keeping in touch with their world through their eyes. They truly helped you manage the relationship.
However, CRM companies started catering to the check writers: Management. The benefits of capturing and sorting customer profiles data were part of why CRM existed, yet it yielded to a more immediate need to measure: What is going on? Customer relationship building data was replaced with pipelines, forecasting, probability of close and activity documentation. All of which are geared around the end result of an action, not how to achieve success. Let’s face it. CRM is now an MIS, Management Inspection System. I had a sales manager once tell me that he loved their new CRM system as it gave him everything he needed to manage his team. He said, “No one can make a move without me knowing about it. I can see how much and what they are working on, as well as their activity and forecast accuracy.” I asked, “How does that help them sell more”? He responded. “They know I’m watching”. Customer Relation Management System, I don’t think so: Management Inspection Systems, most definitely.
Other than the practice of trying to catch someone doing something wrong, these new MIS systems might be necessary in running a well-managed, reportable sales organization. They do not, however, deserve the title of Customer Relationship Management Systems. Moreover, emphasis on these mislabeled CRM systems have taken us on a different path than getting to see the world through a customer’s eyes. Knowledge to build a strong relationship has been replaced with pie and bar charts of results or forecasted results. Sadly, not only have the check writers prioritized their needs over the CRM mission but they have also sent the message to their sales force that knowing your customer takes a back seat to data entry that answers, ”What are you doing?”
I posed this dilemma to several CRM companies and other than them telling me I can customize their fields to capture more data, they had little understanding of what it takes help their clients make that sale. So, if current CRM has become a post-activity data collection system, then who is concerned with what a sales person needs to know in order to close more sales? There just may be hope as LinkedIn is getting ready to announce a new contact management system. LinkedIn has always been a believer in the power of connections and relationships. Who is better positioned to merge that power with a contact management system?
While the modern sales process has changed in many ways, the fundamentals are the same. The tricky part is merging the past and future together. Visit richlucia.com to learn more about forging ahead in today’s sales environment and May the Sale be With You.
Author: Rich Lucia