A Simple Way to Set Your 2020 CRM Enhancement Priorities

The reality sank in that we now have hundreds of sales enablement solution providers working on introducing what feels like an endless stream of new capabilities each year. So how do we prioritize which enhancements to make to our CRM solution set?

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While attending the most recent Dreamforce, surrounded by 170,000-plus fellow participants, I ran into a former colleague who is currently running sales enablement within a Fortune 100 manufacturing firm. Like me, he attended the Salesforce SalesCloud, Einstein, and Analytics keynotes and was trying to digest all of the new announcements. Plus, he had also carved out time to attend several other sessions sponsored by sales enablement solution providers and shared with me more enhancements taking place in the CRM space.

As our conversation was winding down, I asked him, “So what do you think of all this?” He replied, “Two things. First, there is a lot of great innovation going on today. Second, if I attempted to implement every sales enablement solution that promised me an ROI, our company would be out of business in a month!”

His second observation initially made me laugh. But as I thought about it over the next couple weeks and talked to more sales enablement colleagues, the reality sank in that we now have hundreds of sales enablement solution providers working on introducing what feels like an endless stream of new capabilities each year. So how do we prioritize which enhancements to make to our CRM solution set?

While contemplating this, the wisdom of Michael Lodato surfaced in my mind. Lodato was one of my mentors and had a great gift for simplifying complex challenges. When considering sales transformation initiatives, Lodato’s view was that the goal was not to do everything in sales 1 percent or 2 percent better, but rather do 1 or 2 things an order of magnitude better.

His advice to me years ago, when I was running my own sales teams, was to do the following. First, create a list of all the things our organization could consider doing to optimize sales performance. This might include optimizing lead generation, more easily gathering sales intelligence, systematizing the needs-analysis process, streamlining solution configuration, improving sales coaching, increasing forecast accuracy, and so on.

Once the list was complete, the next step was to place these items into the 2×2 matrix seen here. The positioning is based on two perspectives. The first is looking at each item being considered and thinking through what the actual impact would be on improving sales performance, from low to high. Then consider your organization’s ability to successfully pull off the implementation of that initiative, from low probability to high.

As you go through this evaluation process, the initiatives start to prioritize themselves. In the case of this matrix, item E, and perhaps items B and H, might make the cut for the next sales performance initiatives you take on. Those priorities will then clarify which technology enhancements you want to adopt to support those initiatives and which enhancements you can put off.

This simplified approach to viewing sales enablement ensures that a continuous stream of improvements is made to various aspects of customer life cycle management, while at the same time allowing you to do a phased introduction of these changes in terms of how your company sells. Once a given phase is complete, get the list out, reassess the items that were on it the last time, add any new items that may have come up, and repeat the matrix process. You’ll find this brings a degree of sanity to your CRM improvement process. 

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Jim Dickie

Jim Dickie

Jim Dickie is a Research Fellow for Sales Mastery; an independent research firm that focuses on profiling case study examples of how firms in the B2B marketplace are leveraging sales process, CRM, AI and knowledge to optimize revenue performance. Jim has over 30 years of sales and marketing management experience. Jim began his career with IBM and Sterling Software and then went on to launch two successful software companies. Jim then went on to co-found CSO Insights, which was acquired by Miller Heiman Group (now a part of Korn Ferry). Jim is also a contributing editor for CRM Magazine, CustomerThink, Top Sales World, and a contributing author for the Harvard Business Review. He has served as an advisor to Baylor Center for Professional Selling, William Patterson University’s Russ Berry Institute for Professional Selling, and is a lecturer at the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business. Over the past twenty years, Jim’s teams have surveyed over a thousand sales transformation initiatives. Their research has become the benchmark for understanding how the role of sales is evolving, the challenges that are impacting sales performance, and most importantly what companies are doing to address those issues.

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