For the love of CRM drop-down fields

For anyone other than millennials, it is truly mind-blowing when you stop and think about how technology has transformed the way we work. From smart phones and social media, to the latest cloud-based CRM, BI and ERP solutions, the way we do business has changed exponentially over the last decade. But have we truly harnessed all the power of these rapidly-evolving technologies to optimize the way we work? Do we in fact, tend to “retrofit” new technologies to accommodate old processes?

I recently participated in a new CRM/eCommerce platform demo. I could sense the excitement in the presenter’s voice as he discussed every single feature and function of the software, “And these are all the customizable fields which we can use to collect all the details related to an opportunity. Look, we can even copy complete emails as text into an opportunity’s record”!

It was a powerful tool but at that point, he inadvertently validated for me that, “Yes. People sure do have a strong tendency to design and develop new technology around outdated processes.”

Take for example business intelligence (BI) tools in Salesforce or other CRM tools. They can pie, bar and trend chart most fields in the database; those that contain “structured data” like drop-down fields, buttons and check-boxes. However, unless you license highly sophisticated and expensive big-data software, you can’t leverage all the “unstructured data” contained in the text fields.

Which begs the question; why do so many companies still require their sales professionals to thoroughly document every opportunity in CRM on unstructured text fields? The old way of keeping painstaking, detailed notes on every phone call, email, face-to-face exchange.

These sales reps collectively spend (and truthfully waste) hours upon hours each week over-documenting their opportunities. Because, what sales director or VP actually reads all those notes? (Be honest now!) How can a BI tool accurately analyze unstructured data from mountains of free-form notes? Why do companies leverage cutting-edge technology to capture information in this outdated manner?

It’s well past time to streamline and simplify the documentation process. And now, there is an alternative.

The key is to reduce the amount of free-form notes required and instead leverage the technology via targeted drop-down fields and check boxes. By pre-defining the parameters and focusing on the relevant information to be collected via drop-downs and check boxes, your sales reps will save tremendous amounts of time while providing you with structured data that can be analyzed with your BI tool. It’s the ultimate win-win.

You might think, this sounds easier said than done, but there are new tools on the market that do just that. They pivot away from the old processes and leverage the power of your CRM to get more done with less effort. They guide you to focus on collecting the key information and help to stop collecting extraneous and unstructured information.

It's not as simple as eliminating all text fields and swapping them for drop down fields. How you organize the drop-downs, aligned to your business plan, has a significant impact on their usefulness to derive useful key performance indicators (KPIs). That is where our expertise come in so when it’s done right, you will start collecting more targeted and useful structured data. Updated processes designed for new technologies will help you drive your business forward and close the best deals faster, while streamlining the workload and workflow for your sales professionals.

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