I overheard a discussion yesterday between two sales guys on where customers came from for their business. One of the guys was challenging the existing company view that the majority of their customers came from one source. He also pointed out that the source was actually the least profitable customers they had. Apparently an animated debate ensued in their sales meeting. The things you hear standing in line at a bakery. It’s an interesting debate though and no surprise that so many organisations can’t actually answer those types of questions. Sales teams often live with long held beliefs about their business based solely upon their ‘experience’ in sales.

The numbers often speak a very different truth about where business comes from and how profitable it is. What might be a high margin deal could have been an expensive opportunity to surface. Likewise lower margin deals may have been significantly cheaper to deliver. You would venture at this point that what those guys needed was a CRM system like SugarCRM implemented by a trusted UK SugarCRM partner. We’d have been happy to oblige. Albeit that the bakery probably wasn’t the place to pitch nor were they likely decision makers. There are plenty of CRM implementations out there that cannot answer those sorts of questions. Even the odd SugarCRM or Salesforce one. Why?

  • Poor data structure – not thinking about what the system needs to support
  • Poor data entry – strangely sales guys generally prefer to close deals over data entry
  • Lack of CRM vision – why are we doing this?
  • Lack of overall sponsorship within the business – who are we doing this for?

Parting with money to buy software is just the first step and by no means guarantees success. Unfortunately much of the market is deceived by the notion that it’s the software that fixes the problem. Also many business rightly or wrong only ever understand what they spent generating business and what they got out at the end. What happens in the middle is a mystery. What happens in the middle in a well implemented CRM should set you on the path to answering questions like:

  • Where do our customers come from?
  • How long is our sales cycle?
  • What percentage of our inbound leads become opportunities?
  • How much business do we lose?
  • Why do we lose business?

The moral of the story is (beyond what are your staff talking about in the bakery) …

If you want to answer questions about your business then you need a rich set of data that describes your business. That gives you the starting point to explore.