Forget any preconceptions you’ve had about your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. Rather than being a necessary evil, a CRM can actually help your whole business do better - if you’re using it the right way.
CRM systems: necessary evil or business enablement tools?
More often than not, the digital tools we use to do our jobs are not something we particularly think about or feel passionate towards. That has almost always been true of the CRM system used to manage prospects and customers.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. With the right software and the right training it’s possible to turn around that attitude towards a CRM – to show that it enables efficiency in sales which makes it easier to sell. Why? Because a tool is only as good as its users and it’s only as helpful as its ability to enable people to do their jobs better.
The deployment of a CRM is frequently touted as a big success by those driving the project when, behind the scenes, no-one really wants to make any changes to the way that they work so the new CRM is never adopted: no matter how helpful it is.
Changing hearts and minds
We believe it’s time to change your employees’ perspectives – so they can learn to love your CRM. That’s why I interviewed Darren and Trevor of Spitfire Inbound: to give their perspectives on how they’ve seen HubSpot CRM training change organisations for the better.
We realise it may sound corny or implausible or a bit like we’re drinking some weird CRM Kool-Aid, but we believe in the possibility of a CRM to actually make business better because we’ve seen it happen and we know how to make it happen for you.
But, first, let’s explain a few home truths about why CRMs have such a bad reputation – and what the root cause of dissatisfaction really stems from.
A few home truths about your CRM:
- More often than not it’s not the CRM that’s rubbish: it’s the deployment, implementation, and adoption process that makes it unpopular.
- A CRM can’t fix a bad sales process and it doesn’t fix lazy salespeople, but when it’s used in a helpful, productive way it can enhance a great sales process and great sales people. It can also improve an average salesperson if they follow a well-thought-out sales process built into your CRM.
- People do it in the wrong order. Fixing a broken sales process isn’t about getting a CRM first. Getting better sales information is about first having the right thinking and the right processes in place. You can actually run a very effective sales process from a notebook. The technology just makes it easier to manage. If you’ve got good thinking, the technology should support the process.
- The CRM isn’t just a sales tool! There’s a reason that CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. The CRM should run all the way through your customer’s lifecycle: right from the first marketing touch through to the stage of customer delight, and beyond that.
- Using a CRM well isn’t about admin: it’s about closing deals and having more satisfied customers. The only way to change behaviour is to change perception. When users believe that using a CRM is a positive activity for them and for their business, success will follow.
- Using your CRM properly may reveal some uncomfortable truths. Sometimes, proper use of a CRM will demonstrate that you don’t know the client well enough. The good news is that once you know this, you can focus your efforts on organisations where you can influence deals.
Now that we’re a bit clearer about whether it’s the CRM, the sales process, or the lack of understanding of our prospects that’s at fault, here are a few tips on how to change the way your CRM is used.
How to make your employees love your CRM
- Drive a CRM-focused culture from the top.
- Know what the CRM will be used for, and why.
- Adapt it to your sales process (not the other way around).
- Know how to deploy your CRM strategically.
- Learn how to use it and understand the data required for each process (remember: Garbage In = Garbage Out).
- Get people excited about what its features can help them do.
- Train people to solve problems, not use tools.
- Show your team the results of their efforts.
- Enhance their use with an app (if one is available).
- Delve deeper and find ways to automate repetitive tasks.
- Connect it with other productivity tools like calendars and email (so notes are never lost and it’s easier to book meetings and keep track of information).
Darren, Spitfire Inbound’s CEO says, “One of the biggest pitfalls of CRMs is their underutilisation and a lack of deployment. When we go to clients to talk to them about CRM, sales enablement, and the sales process we ask them how they get their people to use it effectively. Then we remind them that even the best CRM won’t work if it’s deployed badly, if people aren’t taught how to use it, and it isn’t ‘baked’ into the culture of the business. Regardless of which of the 200-300 CRM options you could choose, they will all fail unless you are able to get your business to adopt them and add value.”
One answer to the underutilisation challenge is to help people like (or perhaps even grow to love) their CRM by showing them how it makes their lives easier. That requires training – but the right kind of training. The kind that makes people feel more (not less) intelligent, more enabled, and more capable of doing their jobs quickly and effectively. In essence, that’s what we do at Spitfire Inbound when we provide HubSpot CRM training.
How do we handle CRM training at Spitfire Inbound?1. Talk about it and plan it – so it’s exactly what your business needs.
Trevor van Rensburg, Commercial Director at Spitfire Inbound says, “My first instinct is to whiteboard the process, map the sales process, talk about the milestones and outcomes that indicate it’s time to move to the next sales stage. Sometimes people need to see the possibilities of the software first, though – they need to see what the CRM’s potential is.”2. Use training to find out ‘what else you can do’
Darren says, “We love helping clients to do things better. We will then tailor training programmes to help them extract insights from the tool. It’s about going 3 levels deeper than the superficial level that most people can do. Most people will get very competent with using HubSpot at a single point in time but they rarely delve deeper into the tool. Our training focuses on what else could you do with the system, beyond the obvious.”3. Take away the fear of exploration and experimentation
Trevor says, “People are often scared to break something so they don’t explore it because they don’t want to mess it up. Often I’ve found that people still don’t unlock the power of their CRM until you sit with them. Once you sit with them for an hour and show them you can help them realise they won’t break things and they can undo actions or roll them back if things go wrong, they gain confidence. Most of the checks and balances are already built in. Our training gives them the confidence to use some of the functions that they otherwise wouldn’t have been brave enough to use.”
We are confident that this training makes a difference because we’ve seen the evidence with our own eyes.
Here are a few of our customers’ stories to demonstrate the power of CRM training.
CUSTOMER STORY 1: BUSINESS CONSULTANCY
Trevor tells the story of a CEO he spoke with recently who needed to see the automation ability of the HubSpot CRM in practice before he could visualise the benefits. What did he really want? He wanted to be able to see what’s going on so he can deliver better service to his customers.
“That’s why we take a personalised approach,” says Trevor. After sharing one of the powerful features of the HubSpot CRM: the ability to pull customer emails directly into the system, Trevor was able to convince this CEO of the benefits. “I demonstrated the HubSpot CRM to him and after a while he said, ‘This is great because I see it as a collaboration tool that all of us can now use to improve communication between various people involved in the process. I’ve been looking for something which is like Outlook (the email platform) for all of us – I have all my contacts and emails in Outlook, but no-one else can see each other’s. I really like this, because all of us have one global Outlook-type tool that we can share.”
CUSTOMER STORY 2: AUDIT AND ADVISORY FIRM
How do you get a CRM to predict the future? Here’s what Darren says, “One of our clients was doing events and a range of marketing activities on a national basis but they didn’t know where their next deal was coming from. When I asked them what their sales pipeline looks like they said they’d have to scrabble around in inboxes, notebooks and spreadsheets to find this information.”
It was hard to get an accurate fix on the organisation’s pipeline because it was a case of GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out). Their salespeople were resistant to putting the information in and, as a consequence, the information coming out of their system was useless.
“By deploying the CRM, and training how to use it, we have much better visibility and predictability. Now the head partner has certainty about what’s coming down the line. Initially, they knew they were winning business but not why, or who was winning the most, until they looked at the financials at the end of the year. 18 months after getting started with the HubSpot CRM, they now know what they don’t know.
Now they can see individual and group activity and pipelines to understand what their business will look like 6-18 months from now.”
CUSTOMER STORIES 3: COMMITMENT TO ADOPTION
In our previous example, as Darren explains, “The organisation had to change their KPIs at board level to say, ‘If you don’t have this deal recorded in the CRM it’s a business deal, not your deal, which means you won’t get the credit for it.’ To drive the right behaviour they changed the way they measured the team.
Trevor had a similar experience with another customer. “They said it was too much admin with too many steps but we worked with them to help them understand that it’s not admin if it will help them close more deals and have more satisfied customers.”
“Changing their perception to make them aware that using a CRM is a positive activity for them and for the business was key to the CRM’s success.” Darren agrees, “There has to be a commitment. In any implementation or change there has to be executive buy-in. Once that happens we see the process moves forward at a much faster pace.”
CUSTOMER STORY 4: NETWORK AND COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST
Initially, this customer had a million reasons why using their CRM was a waste of time and was taking effort away from their ‘productive’ sales time.
But, says Darren, “The more objections they raised, the more we could show them that it would be better. Finally, what really changed it was that the CEO asked us to set up a daily report of the pipeline and the sales made from the day before that was sent to all salespeople and the execs every morning. It soon became clear who wasn’t using the CRM. Suddenly those who weren’t using it were the outliers – it became important for them to learn to use it, and they asked us to come and help them again.”
The CEOs perspective was, if you’re not committed to doing this you can go find another company to work for.
Trevor says that, “There has to be a mixture of carrot and stick because if it’s important enough for the business it needs to be driven as a critical component of the strategy.”
CUSTOMER STORY 5: FLEET MANAGEMENT COMPANY
This company already had a CRM tool in place, but they had built it themselves and it was an administrative process to update it so the execs could see the report.
Trevor says, “We did a fact-finding investigation to see how they were using it and drew the conclusion their CRM tool was no longer fit for purpose. They couldn’t produce reports for their monthly sales forecast and it took them 45 minutes to realise they couldn’t do it.”
Now, with the HubSpot CRM, not only can they do that at the push of a button, they are also using the CRM during their sales process to help them take the next step, which has made an enormous difference for them.
There’s another, human use of the CRM that they hadn’t anticipated. Trevor says, “They have a passionate sales manager, too, and she uses it to have coaching discussions with sales people. Because the information is at her fingertips it’s much easier to work with them to help progress the sales.”
Now that they are able to store sales and marketing information in a central location, the sales team has all the information about their prospects at their fingertips. It has empowered them to be a lot more professional.
CUSTOMER STORY 6: HIT YOUR TARGETS
One of our clients hadn’t hit their annual sales target for a while. This year, however, they hit it for the first time in 3 years.
How did they manage it? Darren explains that a lot of it had to do with asking the right questions, managing the process, and focusing. Their CRM was able to demonstrate that sometimes they just didn’t know the client well enough. Once they were armed with this information, they could focus their efforts on prospects in organisations where they do have control, and those that they can influence.
Are you ready to sign up for CRM training?
The primary objective of our training and the process we put our customers through is to help businesses grow. As a result, the quality of the knowledge that is shared through the process is at a much more strategic level than with other organisations who use training as a flimsy excuse to sell more licences.
Training can also be done online or via videos, and our teams cumulative experience is key to your training success. Trevor concludes, “We’ve had a vast amount of sales experience over the years and we’ve been able to use a lot of other platforms so we are able to dive much more deeply than if you go to a software company and get a trainer who just tells you what to do and gives you a certificate.” And Darren agrees, “We aim to take the basic skills and turn it into business practice that delivers results, literally.”
Get started with your own CRM training and change the way your sales team can see, achieve, and report on their results – forever!