I had this agency rep once, years ago.  Let’s call him Mark.  This guy was incredible.  He knew more about our organization than any other account exec I had ever worked with.  The CEO’s favorite football team?  He had box seats for him.  My daughter’s birthday?  Mark knew it.  My favorite jazz group?  He had the tickets.  He was like “Radar” from the popular TV series of the time, “M.A.S.H.”  You started a sentence; he finished it.

Mark was so good that when we walked down the halls of our company, people said hello to him and not me!  It was like he worked there.  And, I loved it!  They knew him; they trusted him; they trusted me!

How did he achieve that level of visibility and trust as an outsider?  He worked for it.  He listened; he questioned; he noted everything.  He knew the rules of familiarity and reciprocity before anyone defined them.  He had his own little system.  I doubt if he called it a Customer Relations Management system, but that’s what it was… a CRM system before such a thing existed.

CRM

Today, sales reps/account executives have things a lot easier than Mark.  They have CRMs.  These systems do the work automatically that Mark did by hand.  Jump on the web and you can find just about anyone and his or her contact information in a few seconds.  A good CRM will pull the information into its system for your later use.  Same with additional contextual information.  Does your target download white papers on neuro-marketing, the CRM will populate it for you.

CRMs do so much so quickly and accurately that an organization without one is at a significant strategic disadvantage.  Yet, many companies don’t have a CRM, or they fear getting one.  They believe, for instance, that a CRM will slow them down in time-consuming tasks.  Yet, CRMs take care of entire sales teams by automating many of those tasks, tracking leads, meetings, and other critical data while giving auto alerts to sales people for follow ups.  CRMs do this because they organize everything into a system that shows the stages of the sales process.  Actually, CRMs speed up the sales process, not slow it down, and they show where each member of the sales team is along the continuum.

As I recall, Mark had maybe big three accounts, so the burdens of memory weren’t too great on him. But, he could have made things easier on himself if he’d had a CRM system.  Any salesperson who has many accounts is in deep doo-doo if he or she has to remember birthdays, favorite teams and rock bands, wives’ names, and all the contextual minutiae that builds meaningful relationships.

I lost track of Mark many years ago when we both moved on to other jobs, but I’m pretty convinced that wherever he hangs his sales cap these days, it’s in a company with a CRM.  This guy wrote the book on building and maintaining relationships, and anything he could use in that regard to create an advantage he’d jump on.  So, why doesn’t everyone?

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