Performance management levers with CRM

Why CRM on a performance management blog I hear you say! Well, think about the performance management of a sales force. We frequently find this area of the business has little solid facts available other than those captured on phones and often scribbled down in a paper diary.

paper diary

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is a wide subject. It can be summed up as the software and processes that allows the sales and biz dev teams to manage their activity such as selling to customers, managing leads and managing relationships.  CRM software can be integrated with existing back office systems to avoid the need to re-process data, thereby, increasing efficiency.

From my perspective the benefit of CRM comes from the facts that are provided, we can analyse leads, conversion rates, targets, and sales fulfilment. These facts can be used to evaluate performance and aid decision making. facts

CRM & Planning is like bread & butter

Financial pro’s have a habit of talking to the business in our Financial language. For instance, we ask for the £ Revenue forecast. In some companies the £ Revenue can be a difficult figure to calculate due to recognition rules or inter-co sharing.

Would it be better to talk the language the Sales team understands? Ask for the Conversion rates, Opportunity levels and their Temperature or other revenue drivers that are applicable. It’s harder for managers to hide behind speculative or biased forecasts when the £ amount is represented along with the revenue drivers.

With CRM it’s possible to back calculate the £ Actual to the originating measures. You can use this calculation to build business rules that connect the CRM measures with the Planning system.  Each time you need to update the forecast just refresh the data from the CRM system.  No need to open Excel.

Variance Analysis

Let’s move on to the task all Financial pro’s perform at some point in their lives – Variance Analysis.

Have you ever felt that you don’t have the full picture?  I’ve seen time after time a variance explanation that explains the movements (the what) but doesn’t tell the user the reasons (the why). “10% up on last month due to higher sales activity”

Would it be better to say:

“10% up on last month due to increase of £100K opportunities at stage 4 with a 2% increase in conversion rates. Looks to be a 1 off as stage 1 opps are static.”

Biggest winners are the sales team

CRM can have a huge impact on the sales team. If CRM is delivered in the right way the sales people will be spending less time on administration and more time selling. Leads can be managed in smart ways that maximises the chance of conversion.  Contacts can be searched, called, managed, information can be shared, collaboration is easier, business rules can replace the intervention of team leaders that is often required to close deals.


The challenge with CRM depends on your sales force make-up. The requisite skills for selling don’t always include technical or analytical aspects. This doesn’t bode well for CRM as it can result in resistance to change with the users not seeing the benefits up front.

Often the sales team believe that their sales performance (and bonus!) will drop if they adopt the CRM system. Under these conditions, CRM is still possible, but more time needs to be spent capturing requirements and involving users early on.  Identify evangelical users !

This brings me on to a second challenge, active user participation. In the CRM context, this means bringing sales people out of service. If you have 100 sales people, this isn’t an issue, but if you have a team of 30, it can be a problem.

Biggest Success Factors

One of the biggest success factors for CRM is user adoption. Based on this the system delivered should be aimed at the sales teams and not the office. The User Interface (UI) is one of the most important aspects, followed closely by the quality of data. With modern CRM packages it’s possible to cover all user requirements in a way that doesn’t give a complex user interface.

CRM Packages

There are hundreds of different CRM packages. You’ve probably heard of the most popular one, Salesforce, but there are many others. The experience I have is with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. From an analytical perspective I like Dynamics as I can easily get at the data using tools I’m already familiar with, such as SSRS, SQL Server, Excel. The other benefit of Dynamics is that it can be purchased in the form of SAAS (software as a service) or you can deploy an on-premise version, the latter being more suitable for large deployments with more complex requirements.

Here are some links to CRM sites if you want to learn more about CRM.

Feel free to ask any questions or comment on your experiences.

About Lee Hawthorn

Data Professional
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