“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

I am a firm believer in the above statement. It has application to all areas of life; fitness, learning, relationships, your golf game ;-)….but of course in this context, I’m relating it to sales success.

As I continuously speak with accomplished executives, sales leaders and business owners, I have found an almost religious loyalty to one type of Customer Relationship Management software or another. Once I ask a few second and third level questions about how they are using the software and the value they are realizing from it; I invariably find that they are not even close to getting the gains that they envisioned when they signed up for their chosen solution. So why do they defend their chosen CRM so enthusiastically?

Back to Aristotle; there was no CRM when he was around, but I bet there were still ideas promoting easy solutions to complicated problems. CRM software captures the imagination of business leaders because of the tangibility of the solution. Creating effective sales routines and habits is hard work, measuring the desired inputs and outputs is also hard work, not seeing immediate results is often frustrating. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a software solution that by-passed all of that work?

Common CRM claims are:  

  • Improved Customer Experience. I agree if a process is in place where all client interactions are properly recorded in the system and quickly accessible to all users of the system. This requires a discipline and habit around data collection and presentation.
  • Focused Marketing Efforts. Possible if the right questions are being asked and acted upon.
  • Automated Analytics and Reporting. Tons of reports available, but what is most useful to your specific business. What do you really need to know? How are you ensuring accuracy? Are the reports capturing YOUR key metrics?
  • Better Coordination and Cooperation. See Improved Customer Experience above.
  • More Administrative Support. In most cases, I see salespeople with MORE admin work, not less. This is often due to the company adapting to the CRM software instead of using the software to support their own strategy and processes to serve their clients better.

I believe that CRM can be a valuable tool to support a strong sales strategy and sales process. Like any tool, it doesn’t replace the thinking and the skills of the people using the tool but it can help them enhance performance and achieve greater results. The key is to establish the correct sales habits that will create sales excellence. Understanding where your sales strengths and weaknesses are currently is the first step. Once a baseline is established, systematic corrections can be made to continuously improve the proper habits. Establishing and ingraining these habits creates a more successful environment that is easier to explain, duplicate and measure. As Aristotle says “We are what we repeatedly do…”



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