There’s a well-proven rule of thumb for international travel:
Step 1: Pack your suitcase.
Step 2: Take half of it out and put it away.
Why? Because as you are sprinting through the train station trying to make your connection, you’ll realize that not having half of your stuff is actually an advantage. Quite literally, it’s a burden off of your back.
As a veteran enterprise software product manager, I have come to realize the importance of this concept not just to travel, but to product development — and just how hard it is to take to heart. But we all see from the simple elegance of products like the iPhone that what you leave out is often more important than what you put in.
And now at Clari, as we engage with senior sales operations executives, we’re seeing how critical this concept is in making a company’s CRM implementation and broader sales management process successful.
I recently met with a rapidly-growing, IPO-filing company that realized its existing CRM system was too unwieldy for the new inexperienced, millennial sales professionals that it was trying to onboard quickly. There were too many fields, forms, clicks, and keystrokes required to get things done, and a new sales process they wanted to put in place was about to make it worse. So they essentially abandoned their main opportunity database and linked in a separate, lighter-weight layer to try to solve the problem. So far, so good, but what they’d really love to be able to do is take a fundamentally simpler approach that still provides them with the level of visibility and accountability they need to grow their business.
Let me assure you, this company is not alone (FYI, the record so far that I’ve seen for CRM fields is 292. Yes, one customer has 292 fields they are trying to track for each opportunity).
The answer is certainly not to abandon CRM. It has revolutionized the way organizations sell and is absolutely crucial to building a successful business. The answer, rather, is to do three things to improve your existing CRM investment:
- Dramatically reduce the number of fields you are tracking for each deal. It will be painful, but you’re going to need to take out at least half of them from your data “suitcase.” Focus on the fields that are most useful for reps and managers, and allow them to take action. I can’t emphasize that enough. Yes, the data you’re collecting in your CRM is valuable and important for management to understand the state of the forecast, but it is most valuable and important when it’s capturing information that arms the troops out in the field with what they need to make better decisions and close deals faster.
- Leverage “intelligent” fields that don’t require data entry from your reps and managers.For example, products like Clari allow you to automatically track recent activity and engagement with accounts by analyzing the email and calendars of your sales teams.
- Use the power of mobile to capture key updates in real-time right when the information is top-of-mind for the rep. CRM data is freshest when reps can increase a forecast, change the status deal, or request an executive sponsor visit the customer right from their mobile device.
The bottom line: Simple, actionable deal information in context helps improve sales management visibility and accuracy. It also drives collaboration across extended teams. And by streamlining the amount of data you collect and leveraging the power of next-generation tools to provide automated insights into sales activity, you’ll discover the power of “less is more” to drive increased sales.
Want some hints on the specific types of information that we’ve heard are most important to be tracking? Stay tuned. I’m working with our early customers to compile a “best practice” list of what we consider to be the most essential CRM fields… and I look forward to sharing them in an upcoming post.
We’d also like to invite you to try our mobile sales productivity platform.