CRM Data Entry

Does Your CRM Have the Data to Improve Sales Effectiveness? Part 1

We’ve had a spate of discussions recently about information and a general lack thereof in the typical CRM. To be clear, no one is suggesting that CRM solutions inherently lack information. What everyone seems to agree on, though, is that most CRMs have only a fraction of the prospect/customer information they could or should have.

Further, the consensus appears that most salespeople can’t or won’t populate information about their opportunities and accounts.

Lazy Salespeople?

For the record, I’m not the one taking this position. In my various conversations, it’s people who believe they “know” salespeople and that salespeople WILL NOT enter information into the CRM.

More specifically, these people believe salespeople will ONLY ENTER THE MINIMUM NECESSARY to get paid or comply with company policy. In fact, according to some self-described experts, that’s how it was, is, and always will be. Now, this may or may not be true for any given salesperson or team, but let’s concede for the point of this discussion, that it’s correct for the overwhelming majority of people. 

Assuming that this is the case, the questions we must answer are:

  • Does it matter?

  • Do we want more information about opportunities, accounts, and customers?

  • Why don’t our salespeople enter information into the CRM?

  • What, if anything, would drive change in this behavior?

  • If we can’t change this behavior, how useful will the CRM be in driving better sales performance?

Does It Matter?

Do we want more information about opportunities, accounts, and customers?

To some people, it doesn’t always matter. Certainly, you want to understand your customers, including the issues most important to them and the criteria they use to evaluate your solutions. However, there are some instances where the sales cycle is so short, and the transaction volume is so high that capturing this data doesn’t make practical sense.

To use an extreme example, a salesperson at a retail clothing store may do an excellent job understanding you and your criteria for purchasing a suit, but by the time this information is entered into the CRM, two or three more customers may have come and gone. Other technologies, including customer surveys, store heat maps, and sales data, MUST be used in those environments.

Let’s suppose you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum. Your salesperson is working on a seven or eight-figure opportunity that will involve multiple evaluators on the buyer’s side and several resources from your company. Perhaps the sales cycle will be 6, 12, or even 18 months, during which time dozens of conversations will occur between your team and your prospective customer. Now, imagine that all the information gathered in those discussions is kept only on a notepad of the person on your team who had the conversation. Or worse, it’s in their head!

What happens to this opportunity if your team changes? How can they systematically work and analyze an opportunity when they don’t know what they do or don’t know about the opportunity?

In this case, not only do you want information, but you need to have it in a system that will facilitate better analysis and collaboration that helps the team win. In this case, your CRM can and should be a virtual war room that the team uses to develop their winning strategy.

In fact, if the opportunity is significant enough, you won’t even settle for process gates and check boxes that demonstrate key points have been covered and the right information gathered – you will want to SEE the data. 

The reality is that most sales opportunities lie between these two extremes, but most salespeople avoid putting data into the CRM, irrespective of the opportunity. This leads us to the second question.

Why Don’t Our Salespeople Enter Information into the CRM?

Let’s begin by eliminating the wrong answer – they’re lazy.

Salespeople are neither lazy nor irresponsible. In fact, salespeople are quite the opposite.

So, why don’t salespeople enter data into the CRM as requested? Simple, the pain of entering it outweighs the benefit to them of doing so.

Salespeople are just like other human beings, and ALL human beings do what they believe is in their own best interest. Unfortunately, many companies implement their CRM solution with little thought to the benefit it will bring to the people who are expected to use it. Reports, dashboards, triggers, and workflows are all designed so that management can better understand what is happening in the field. However, they provide little to no value unless salespeople derive value from entering data into the system – otherwise there will simply be constant handwringing about how inadequate the information is.

The second reason people don’t enter data into the system is that doing so is too cumbersome. For this reason, some providers replace information with check boxes in their applications. For example, rather than requiring salespeople to enter the companies against whom they’re competing for a given opportunity, the application will display the question, “Do you know who you’re competing against?” and then the salesperson can select either yes or no.  

Unfortunately, the problem with this approach is that it doesn’t teach people to have better conversations with their prospects and customers. Instead, it teaches people to check the boxes that keep them from unwanted attention from management.

So, our salespeople don’t enter data because the pain is greater than the benefit. Don’t be too frustrated, hope is not lost. Be sure to check out the second in this two-part series to get practical suggestions about what we can do to address this challenge and make CRM a real sales effectiveness tool.

Want to learn more? Axiom provides a unique alternative to traditional sales training. Unlike traditional sales training events, we embed our methodology into your sales cadence, delivering dramatically better sales results. To learn more about our Mindful Selling Methodology, Kinetics Sales Effectiveness Platform, or our unique, guaranteed approach, please visit us at

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