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Thursday, 24 May 2012

Prospect Contact Relationship Management Is a Waste of time

Ok so the headline was a cheap shot to pull you into this topic... 

And CRM's do have a place in any modern business, whether old fashioned call/record cards, diaries, excel sheets or electronic systems like SalesI, Sugar,  Goldmine etc ...

I bumped into an old Marketing Manger friend, I'll call him Tom,  recently who was moaning about sales people and their inability to update their prospecting CRM records.  How could he send his flyers to prospects if he didn't have the decision maker contact, and the vital email address?  For Tom the issue was compounded as his company delivers a range of services unlikely to be accessed by any single decision maker.  Tom needed multiple names and multiple email address per prospect organisation.

To better understand Tom's issue I asked 4 questions;
Q. What is your decision maker to buyer conversion %  A. 10%
Q. What is your prospect email open rate. A. 10%                  
Q. *How long does it take the sales guys to update their records  A. ?
Q. What positive influence do the opened emails 10% have on buying decisions?  Is it worth it?  Why not just recruit another sales guy I jokingly suggested. That went down like a Lead Zeppelin and Tom shuffled nervously. 

OK I suggested, so why not invest in training your sales guys to improve their conversions?

*No-one was measuring this and the assumption was that the sales guys weren't spending enough time "cleaning their data." which was as far as Tom was concerned  "always out-of date."  

"Cleaning their data."  Why would they need to clean it I asked,  Surely they'd simply update it on their call cycles.... no... its takes them to long ... they make notes and are supposed to update later. And another issue for Tom;  how could the Sales Manager trust his sales guys without proof that calls/visits had been made and CRM had been updated?

I didn't have the answers so I suggested Tom went away and thought about some additional considerations:

A 10% conversion means that 90% of the time spent typing on the CRM would always end up as wasted time.  A motivator? No. Not much of an incentive for sales guys to spend time on lap-tops typing when an old fashioned piece of RAM - a diary - could pretty much do the same job, and faster too. Maybe they'd prefer to spend the time trying to talk to prospects instead?

At the end of Tom's day perhaps its all a question of ROI and considering the CRM in the context of the bigger picture. The conversation made me think. Its amazing what customer/prospect data we think we have, what value we attach to it and what the real ROI on this marketing support actually is.  

Yes absolutely we need prospect CRM data that is fit for purpose, but looking for CRM perfection is perhaps like searching for the holy grail.  Don't go there.

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