Getting your CRM and KPIs to work together

Key symptoms of a failing CRM system – and how a certain KPI contributes

Is there a key symptom of a failing CRM? One that leads to an under performing sales team?

The question above is one we get asked time and time again, and after years of installing and driving CRM systems we see that one of the key symptoms of a failing CRM is an over-reliance on a certain KPI – that being the KPI that tracks the number of meetings and phone calls your sales team is having.

An over emphasis on this KPI can be a ‘canary in a coal mine’ – one that should act as a warning that the current way you are using your Zoho CRM.

What can this lead to? 

A myopic focus on this KPI can gradually foster the following dynamic:

  • Diminishing sales team performance
  • Constraining initiative and creativity
  • Fostering short-term focused behaviour
  • Increase in shortcuts being taken and cheating
  • A cooling-off of intrinsic motivation
  • Makes holding on to good people difficult

How this could reflect on management? 

Placing this KPI at the centre of a companies focus is often a symptom of the following management style.

  • Perfectionist & authoritarian
  • Constantly requiring people to seek permission
  • Management by tasking and tight controls
  • Over reliance on discipline procedures

The problems in depth

This KPI has a focus on the past, and lacks a future-focused orientation.  It also has a huge focus on compliance.  When complacence and a retrospective perspective dominate your team management – high performance, initiative, innovation, creativity have less space to grow – let alone flourish.

While in some scenario attention to meetings and phone calls is appropriate – often the figures it generates are out of context, or encourage a picture of  black and white – of ‘this is the good group and this is the bad group” – of achiever and non-achiever.  This oversimplification can cause even the most valuable salesperson to seem unproductive.

the outcome of heavy focus on this KPI may also promote  management to not take any responsibility for the team’s performance – exonerating them for helping/training the sales team to achieve better results.

This kind of disconnection with the reality of business performance is major cause of management and leaders losing empathy for the sales team and the challenges that they face.  When empathy and sympathy are gone, the void is often filled with blaming.  It results in the business losing focus of important holistic issues such as the effectiveness of the business model or the quality of leads the sales team is working with, and puts a spotlight on hoops that salespeople are ordered to jump through.

It is important to remember that we are not saying that following KPIs for meetings and phone calls is bad all together.  They are important – just not as the cornerstone of your CRM.

What is the solution?

The solution is in moving from a focus on process to a focus on outcome.  There are many ways to do this, but a good way to start is to figure our how KPIs like this one fit in your business model and your sales cycle.

If you are interested in learning more about how to create effective KPIs then contact us to.  We are certified Zoho CRM consultants and can share our experience in making Zoho CRM systems perform.

Ilan Gross

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