Possibly the most dramatic change to occur in how salespeople function on a day-to-day basis involves the integration of customer relationship management (CRM) systems into the selling arena. CRM is the name given to both the technology and the philosophy that drives companies to gain a better understanding of their customers with the goal of building stronger long-term relationships. The essential requirement for an effective CRM system is the need for all customer contact points (e.g., salespeople, customer service, websites) to gather information so that this can be shared with others in the company.
But CRM has faced some rough times within the sales force for the exact reason it is important: salespeople must share their information. Salespeople have historically been very good at developing relationships and learning about customers, but often loath sharing this since, in effect, information is what makes them important. In the minds of some salespeople, letting go of the information reduces their importance to the company. For example, some salespeople feel that sharing all they know about a customer will make them expendable as a salesperson since a company can simply insert someone new into their spot at anytime.
While the attitude toward CRM has made its implementation difficult in many companies, salespeople should understand that it is not going away. CRM and information sharing has proven to be critical for maintaining strong customer relations and salespeople must learn to adapt to it.