Setting realistic goals is critical for a successful CRM implementation.  However, just as critical is having realistic expectations.  What’s the difference?  A goal is what you hope to achieve through the implementation of a CRM system, an expectation is the anticipation of an occurrence.  For example, a company may have the goal of increasing quote conversion by 5%.  The expectation is that the sales people will enter their quotes/opportunities into the CRM system and keep them up to date.

Over the last 15 years, I have had the privilege of consulting with 100s of companies as they set realistic goals and expectations for CRM.  The goal of the next few paragraphs is to help my readers understand what is realistic in the realm of user expectations of your outside sales representatives.

Personality:

First, as we consider expectations, let’s consider the typical personality a typical outside sales person. The typical outside sales representative is focused on, and driven to sell.  They typically are not good data-entry people nor are they driven to maintain the accuracy of data in CRM.  They know who their top customers are and are not likely to need CRM in relation to the top customers.

Access to CRM:

Consider this:  The typical outside sales representative is a road warrior.  It is unrealistic to expect that they have CRM open while they are driving and dialing.  Most won’t even open CRM while at a customer, unless there is a reason to open it.  Therefore, the typical road warrior updates CRM at the end of the day, minimizing the amount of data they will remember and enter.

Role:

Most outside sales representatives are hired to sell. In fact, they are incentivized to do so.  Therefore, their main focus is the next sale, not worrying about whether the account status is correctly set to “active.”  Typically, they will maintain the data that is important to the sale:  Opportunity, contact name, phone and possibly email.  Beyond that, they don’t care and don’t see the value of keeping up extraneous information like lead source, account type, etc.

Keeping this in mind, it is an unrealistic expectation to expect your outside sales representative to maintain the accuracy of any data in your CRM system, outside of the opportunities they enter.  Asking an outside sales rep to maintain account type, contact type, and extraneous contact/account information in your CRM system will simply frustrate your sales representatives and ultimately end in poorly maintained data.

On the other hand, a typical internal customer service representative is often task-oriented and methodical.   They usually are very good at maintaining customer related data.

Ultimately, setting realistic expectations for your outside sales team will greatly improve your organizations ability to reach its CRM goals.  Outside sales representatives are usually consumers of information, maintaining the minimum amount of data required for them to close the next deal.  Knowing this will help you to properly align data maintenance tasks to the proper role.

Luke Russell 

Resolv, Inc.

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