SAVO Poll: Companies Confuse CRM Solutions With Sales Processes

Published: June 25, 2012

In this exclusive Q&A with DemandGenReport, Dan Schleifer, Senior Director of Marketing at SAVO, shared key insights into the poll’s findings, including the role CRM and the sales process play in successful demand generation.

DemandGen Report (DGR): While the CRM system is an integral part of the success of both sales and marketing initiatives, it’s clear that it cannot stand alone as a “sales process.” What do you find to be the bigger misconceptions around this idea? What do B2B companies need to know about how to set proper expectations for CRM?

Dan Schleifer: The most important thing to understand about CRM – and set expectations accordingly – is that it’s an accounting system for what your sales people do. It won’t, by itself, change how they behave. If you have diligent sellers who follow a defined process and maintain quality data, your CRM system can be a great reporting and forecasting tool. The difficult part is getting your sellers to follow a consistent process and maintain quality data. Bringing about that kind of change requires a cultural shift, proper incentives and the right mix of technology.

Sales organizations that drive this kind of change take a multi-pronged approach. They should roll out CRM along with a sales process, and with additional technology to bring that sales process to life when the seller needs it. Only when sellers see that using the tools and following the process makes them more effective and efficient (as in no onerous data entry!) will they use it. Only then will the data be reliable enough to trust.

Get the latest B2B Marketing News & Trends delivered directly to your inbox!

DGR: A vast majority (74%) of respondents said their CRM systems do not yield insights into successful sales practices. Can you expand on why this is a critical failure for companies?


Schleifer: You can’t grow revenue if you don’t understand what works and what doesn’t. You can’t take your middling performers and coach them to be top performers if you don’t understand the patterns of success. And you can’t guide your sellers down the path to success if you don’t have a map that shows the way.

CRM systems only know that your sales people are successful, not how they do it. What message was delivered at what part of the sales process?  How was that message tailored to each buyer’s persona, industry and competition?  Which subject matter experts were employed at critical junctures in the customer’s buying process?

We have to answer these questions, and many others,  if we want to understand what drives success. We think there are two scalable approaches to harvesting and mining this data, and both should be used in conjunction with each other: 

1)     Systematic frontline sales coaching, with a formal feedback loop to those responsible for sales strategy. This can provide both qualitative and quantitative feedback from the front lines to management, with a level of objectivity that doesn’t exist in seller-driven win/loss analysis.

2)     Sales enablement technology that automatically tracks sales motion– assets used, SMEs collaborated with, objections handled, etc. Sales enablement becomes the go-to source for sellers (for their own productivity and effectiveness), and through their use of it can automatically harvest this critical information and link it back to CRM.

DGR: The poll found that the majority of companies that successfully implement a separate formal sales process are optimizing both sales execution and their own expected business outcomes. What are some of the best tactical practices these winning companies are implementing?


Schleifer: The most successful companies stand apart for two reasons. First, they’ve developed a sales process that is mapped to their customer buying process. By doing so, they build a process that really works – and that drives adoption. Second, they don’t treat sales process as a once-a-year training endeavor, only supplemented by a couple of laminated sheets and a book. The process gets reinforced throughout all of their systems – CRM, sales enablement, front line coaching, deal reviews and role playing, etc.

DGR: In addition to driving revenue, the right sales processes improves a company’s forecasting ability. What is the role of front-line sales management in developing change management tactics to get internal teams on the same page?


Schleifer: Front-line managers have to buy into the need for a sales process and the value that they’ll receive from it. Then they must be trained not just on the sales process itself, but specifically on how to coach to it. Finally they must be provided time and resources to do that coaching. Senior management then needs to inspect for execution. 

Technology designed specifically for coaching and sales team collaboration can be a lifesaver here. It can help companies automatically prompt coaching at the right time  or it can be triggered by deal movement in CRM, providing the tools for quality coaching, and offering integrated reporting and analytics.




B2B Marketing Exchange
B2B Marketing Exchange East
Campaign Optimization Series
Buyer Insights & Intelligence Series
Strategy & Planning Series