Using a sales and marketing CRM in an agency is a strange love-hate relationship that is as much psychology as practical application.

Leadership wants the data, the tracking, and the accountability. But too often, they want it without having to do the work to make it happen. And they often don’t understand how much time and energy it’s going to take to create a successful structure for their team.

Producers often don’t want the CRM, and more often, don’t want the tracking and accountability that goes with it. And they certainly don’t want the “hard work” associated with it.

We’re at a fork in this road

And so, agencies find themselves at a crossroads. What do they do? Forgo the technology and allow producers to “track” their pipeline on a whiteboard, in emails, or on their mental checklist?

Or do they buckle down and make some company-wide decisions on what will become the expectation and the standard? Doing so takes both a financial commitment and a time investment to:

  • customize and establish the architecture of the database,
  • outline the expectations for participation,
  • train the team on how to use it, and
  • establish the accountability to ensure the team uses it as expected.

We’ve worked with many agencies to establish their sales and marketing CRMs, and there is a one-one correlation between the leader’s commitment and the team’s usage of the platform. If the leader is all in and sets the expectation for it, the company uses it. If the leader isn’t committed, neither is the team.

It’s that simple.

This discrepancy may come from leaders struggling to play both a leadership role and a producer role. They want the data for the company, but they’re also a distracted producer who doesn’t want to feel beholden to reporting. It’s a real struggle and one that holds the agency back from growth.

We’ve watched agencies get started, stall, drag their feet – sometimes for months or even a year or two, and either give up or eventually choose to commit.

We’ve also watched agencies commit right from the beginning. These groups immediately recognize the insight they can gain and double down on their commitment because of the value they receive from the data.

The prospecting, marketing, and sales activity you can track in your CRM provide many leading indicators of future results. These leading indicators are the metrics most agencies do not track and, therefore, they find themselves unable to adequately project revenue or make informed hiring decisions or other capital investments.

For the agencies that commit, it’s because they fully understand the data’s value and want clear insight into the activities that drive (or don’t drive) their agency’s revenue and, in turn, their decision-making.

What’s really holding agencies back?

Sure, there’s a financial investment. And a time investment. But even after crossing those two hurdles, there’s one more major issue facing company leaders: producer complaints.

Producer complaints are the number one issue we see holding agencies back from committing to data. Producers complain they don’t want to do the work to 1) gather the data and 2) use the system to log emails, notes, and activity.

Okay, to be fair, gathering data is not fun. I’ll give you that. But without names, email addresses, and a few key data points about the contacts, the database is an expensive tool sitting empty. No pipeline tracking can happen. No marketing activities to help move prospects through the pipeline can happen. We’re just sitting, waiting.

But the REAL issue producers don’t talk about is fear of exposure to their activities. Or lack thereof.

Individuals who jump on board with a sales CRM are usually your high-producing salespeople. They’re excited to have a way to help them stay current and get ahead. Any advantage they can use to help them work smarter, faster, more efficiently, they’re ALL OVER.

Producers who drag their feet, complain, and refuse to participate are often your salespeople who may be better off with the title of “account executive” rather than “salesperson” because they’re not your activity-generators. They know they’re not prospecting as much as they should, and gaining full insight into their activity will expose a lack of commitment to the role.

It’s easy to sit in a sales meeting and talk hypothetically. An articulate person can wax about many ideas and theoretical things they’re going to be doing or have in the works, but those “things” can also be a lot of fluff to bluff their way through a potentially uncomfortable admission.

The database puts it all on display. You’re either doing it, or you’re not.

Fear: paralysis or motivation?

This fear should not stop leaders from choosing to move ahead. Instead, it should motivate you to find the gaps and friction in your process and get everything on your sales and marketing team in alignment. It should inspire you to see the smooth-running future you want to have.

Is it going to take work? For sure. But is it worth it? You bet! After the initial learning curve, having it automated is WAY easier, and you’ll find it doesn’t take long to get an ROI on the time or financial investment – assuming leadership holds the team to the new rules of the game.

Food for thought

Leaders, I implore you: commit to having insight into your future revenue and hold everyone on your team accountable to it. You, your entire staff, and your future retirement want you to make this a priority.

If you’re struggling with this idea of using a sales and marketing CRM, reach out, and let’s have a chat about it. We teach agencies how to set up a CRM, customize it for your team, and create a strong foundation for a successful launch with the software. An agency owner going through our CRM training program recently told us they wished they had this knowledge and foresight when setting up their agency management system.

Just having a database is not enough. You need to know both how to use it today AND how you’re going to use it in the future to make it a valuable tool for running a marketing and sales program.

Photo by Dmitry Ageev.