All over the world companies are still scratching their heads and battling with customer relationship management (CRM) systems. Fifteen years ago, it was reported by Gartner, the tech research and advisory firm that 50% of CRMs could be classed as failures. Despite over a decade passing since this report, studies are still showing that sales forces are not happy with their CRM systems.
Up until this point, it has been unclear why there is such a struggle between CRM and sales but perhaps it is not the system at all but how we manage the relationship between the two. Do we need to alter the way in which we approach CRM? Do we need to adjust our thinking in order to make sure our entrepreneurial goals are not harmed?
Consider the following:
1. Be truthful about what the software actually is and does
To be truthful, the moniker of CRM doesn’t help us, since it automatically puts our mind-set into thinking CRM is all about managing customer relationships when in truth, it isn’t. A CRM helps companies manage a sales force; that is its true purpose.
Ok, there are indeed customers involved but the CRM helps to automate the sales force’s important tasks and activities, such as managing the pipeline, forecasting and recording potential (and won) opportunities.
Some have suggested going back to the more traditional term of sales force automation (SFA). This would indeed start to alter the thinking from managing customer relationships (CRM) over managing the sales force, which is essentially what the software is built to do.
2. Sometimes measuring return on investment (ROI) just isn’t worthwhile!
Many will no doubt stare with horror at their computer screen at the mere suggestion that you should no longer try to measure ROI of a CRM. The truth of the matter is a CRM is now so intrinsic within a sellers’ job description that is has become like email or a work laptop, i.e. an expense not an investment.
You don’t have to measure the ROI of an expense because you already know it is worth it; you need it. There is no alternative investment to be made; a CRM is required if you want to be able to operate and manage a sales force. Instead of focusing on trying to measure the ROI of CRM, companies should be looking at other ways to measure its impact on the business.
3. Leave the technology alone; focus on the teaching!
Many would lay the blame of CRM failings at the technology being used, and use the excuse that things will improve as technology improves. However, this is false. CRMs have changed as technology has, this is true but the challenges and ‘failings’ experienced with CRM software still tend to remain the same. This puts the blame firmly at the feet of humans.
This means we should be more focused on teaching sales forces exactly how to use the software and get the absolute best out of it. CRM software tends to be underutilised in terms of the amount of valuable data it can store and provide to sellers. It is now time to utilise CRM systems to the full extent, else we’ll find we’re all still struggling in another fifteen years’ time.