What can you do as an organization leader to provide the Sales Team with the most effective tools for CRM data entry? Tools to make sales reporting so appealing to them that they will adopt them easily and use them willingly, so the best data available flows continually into your CRM databases?
The traditional data input choices are keyboard or voice, whether the means is a computer, smart phone, or tablet or whether it is voice mail, a voice conversation, or dictation into a machine or to a live person. That’s about all we have to accomplish the task of CRM data entry. (We don’t have technologies yet that read our minds or filter information through the skin.)
If we focus on the sales rep as the principal information entry person into the CRM system, reporting immediately after a sales experience with customers, competitors, and industry forces, then here are five reasons a voice-based CRM data entry tool is by far the best solution. Focusing attention to this tool makes CRM data entry attractive to the sales reps so that they use it easily, willingly, and with increasing competence over time.
1. They like to speak on the phone – voice is intuitive; writing is learned. From infancy we have been speaking and, almost as long, we have been speaking into the telephone. Unlike writing and keyboarding, which are learned and practiced skills that some master and many do not, speaking on the telephone is intuitive and natural. We all can do it! We do not have to be taught to speak, and we do not have to be encouraged or motivated to speak on the phone. Sales reps using their phone to report sales information can do it easily because they perform this activity over and over during any given day. They are good at it, naturals, highly competent. So, when asked to report their CRM information this way, they do it easily and with no cause for delay.
2. They like to do it immediately – Quick and easy are compelling; hard and problematic are repelling. User adoption, procrastination, avoidance behavior – these are all manifestations that the sales reps to not enjoy or look forward to their CRM data entry tools. Keyboarding/writing is too hard, takes too long, requires unnatural thinking and skills, and is not pleasant to anticipate. It is hard and unpleasant work and is, therefore, avoided and procrastinated! Speech recognition software has major editing limitations (as discussed in the next point).
3. They appreciate efficiencies – Just once is good; several times is bad. Any system that requires the speaker to return to the text to edit after putting it in will fail. Speech recognition for the kind of textual information we are talking about here leaves the speaker with text that is often 80% – 90% inaccurate (catastrophically difficult to correct when nouns become verbs, adverbs become nouns, etc.), requiring hours of editing time to make it professionally acceptable. Despite their dislike of it, when considering the alternative of speech recognition, sales reps laborously keyboard in their information to avoid speech to text inefficiencies and having to edit what comes back – it is faster and easier to just keyboard it in. Clear and accurate meaning, coupled with professional presentation, are essential in reports that are circulating throughout the organization. Sales reps want to speak it in the information and hang up, having a the system process the information and delivery a professional report into the database. That quality of work is only possible with native-English speaking, U.S. Citizen based human transcriptionists, working in partnership with the sales reps.
4. They want to tell their story – Explanation is satisfying; just numbers is frustrating. For customer-centric and needs-based selling, background and contextual information is critical for an understanding of what is going on with the customer, the competition, and the industry. Thus, explanatory information requires talk, text, sentences, and paragraphs. When management reduces CRM reporting to just numbers, jots, twits, tweets, or thumbs, just 5% or so of the pertinent information is being required or accessed. This is “activity”-based management attention, which places no value on the information of most importance to the sales reps. They see that nothing much is being asked for, so they stop giving anything beyond the number required. 98% of what they care about in their customer-centric sales work is being ignored by management. “Who cares about reporting?” is the cynical reply to such un- or mis-management of the sales reporting activity. Many, thus, choose not to participate or to participate at the bare minimum.
5. They want to know someone higher up cares – High feedback is invigorating; low feedback or none is debilitating. “Does anyone read these reports?” “I just put anything in because no one reads them anyway.” “I do them about once a quarter – if I am forced to, because everything important is being taken care of over the phone all of the time. The sales report is meaningless.” When upper management communicates to the sales team the kinds of information that are important to them, and when the sales reps see and report those kinds of information back, and then upper managers respond to those reports, then we have the kind of “virtuous cycles” of understanding that make the CRM databases rich and fertile and CRM a winner application for the organization.
When senior managers provide a voice-based CRM data entry tool for the sales team, there are at least these five reasons a voice-based CRM data entry tool will make the CRM database a winner and CRM a success.