CRM (Customer Relationship Management) programs like Salesforce can be very powerful and effective tools – if they’re used correctly.
The problem is that most building materials companies aren’t ready or equipped to use a sophisticated CRM program, like Salesforce.
The result: company after company wasting money on CRM solutions.
I’ll go over three mistakes building material companies make when implementing a CRM program and give you tips on how to avoid repeating them.
Mistake #1: They Have the Wrong Expectations
The first mistake building material companies make is assuming that signing up for a CRM program will grow their sales. As if just paying for the software and creating an account will bring in more leads and convert them, too.
This happens for a few reasons:
1. They’re desperate to grow their sales, so they latch on to any tactic (like a CRM program) without first having a strategy.
2. The world is becoming more high-tech and they feel they need to catch up. But they don’t know how, so they get a CRM program as an easy, quick-fix way to modernize.
3. They assume it will be like an all-inclusive vacation: everything will be taken care of for them.
4. They’re trying to show management they’re doing something to grow sales. (Unfortunately, it often works – lots of companies reward actions over results.)
Mistake #2: They Think It Will Be a Small Change
Building material companies underestimate the amount of change required to successfully implement a CRM program.
Here are four big things they don’t realize:
1. Their salespeople will not embrace the CRM system. To them, it just looks like extra, time-consuming work. Why generate activity reports no one will bother reading when they could spend that time selling?
2. Lots of people will have to make changes, not just the salespeople. And everybody’s happy with things changing – until they’re the ones who have to.
3. Salespeople might see the CRM program as a threat, not an asset. For the most part, salespeople have their job figured out and know how to stay off management’s radar – a CRM introduces accountability and changes all that. (When my sons were teenagers, they knew how to give me just enough information to keep me from asking more. We’re all like this on some level.)
4. Their sales leader will have to become a real leader, not just a coach or cat herder. That means laying down the law and enforcing CRM use and best practices.
If you’re serious about using a CRM program, you need to be willing to let some of your best or favorite salespeople go if they don’t get onboard.
That doesn’t mean everyone has to agree with the change or believe in the CRM. They just have to be like good soldiers and follow marching orders. Anyone who isn’t willing to adopt the CRM isn’t contributing to your new sales strategy and would be better off working elsewhere.
You can’t get around this. Lots of companies think that if they just start using the CRM program, their sales force will wake up and see how great it is.
Don’t count on it.
There will be some resistance, some friction. But if you have the strength, patience and commitment to implement a CRM program correctly, most of your salespeople will wonder how they ever succeeded without it.
Mistake #3: They Track the Wrong Metrics
Too many companies rely on the boilerplate metrics provided by the CRM company.
To be effective, you need to come up with your own definition of success and develop metrics that will measure it.
This is especially true in building materials. This industry is a small segment for CRM companies, so they’re not developing metrics tailored to a building material company’s needs – they’re applying metrics that work for other industries.
Doing It for the Wrong Reasons
I work with a lot of companies that set aside a portion of their budget for CRM. When I ask why they spend money on a CRM program, they usually say it’s because “you have to have a CRM program these days.”
They almost never tell me, “it’s really helping us grow our sales.”
Things aren’t much better when I interview their salespeople. I get eyerolls when I even mention CRM.
They’re not telling me that the CRM makes their jobs easier or helps them reach their targets.
Instead, they tell me it’s a necessary evil, that it makes management feel good even though it’s not effective or efficient.
They just see it as a modern-day call report.
Why You Still Need a CRM Program
I know I sound like I don’t believe in CRM programs, but I do. I just don’t believe in sloppy strategies and poorly implemented sales solutions.
CRM is essential. Like marketing automation and digital marketing, it’s a critical component of your future sales growth.
I just want to make sure you (and other building materials professionals) know what a big undertaking it is. A CRM program isn’t a robot butler – you can’t just buy it and hope it does the work for you. If you’re going to do it right, you need an empowered project manager who reports to the head of sales.
I’m not an expert in CRM systems or their implementation. I’m simply an observer who’s seen too many building material companies throw money at a CRM program for the wrong reasons and without realizing that it can’t succeed without an investment in the executive’s time.
Get the Right Advice
So, what should you do?
There are consultants who will tell you they can do the hard work for you. But unless your senior management has a deep understanding and is very engaged, the consultant will be a waste of money.
And you shouldn’t listen to the CRM company representatives, either. They’re amazingly good salespeople and they’re experts at downplaying how challenging and difficult implementing their solution will be.
What you need to do is talk to a number of noncompetitive building material companies about their experiences with CRM. You probably need to talk to at least six companies. That way, you’ll be able to find a few that will be honest with you and be willing to admit where they had or are still having problems.
Thanks for the following comments. I’d like to hear your feedback and suggestions on how to sell architects.
“Well written, Mark. To take it a step further, when you deploy an ERP system (which inherently has a CRM component built into it) you have to have a true plan in place and make sure that it is built and rolled out in a means that is easy to adopt and use. When that happens, your employees will realize that this is something happening FOR them, not something happening TO them.”
National Sales Manager
PATH I ERP
“Great article Mark. Necessary reading for those moving to a new CRM!!!”
Former Regional Manager
Western Canada at Dörken Systems Inc.
“I always enjoy reading your posts, mainly I like your contrarian, non-traditional approach to the many issues we face in our industry.”
American Association of Roundtables