18 March 2006

Why don't salespeople like CRM?

One of the key reasons is that salespeople avoided specifying the system in the first place. CRM was specified by a variety of functional areas including:
  • finance
  • marketing
  • customer service
Because they were involved from the beginning, those functions got something that they wanted, or at least thought they wanted. CRM systems are very powerful tools, but they aren't very effective at supporting professional salespeople with a long pipeline. How could they be? The system is trying to be competent in number of areas for a wide range of functions.

The result is that salespeople don't enjoy working with CRM. They see it as too big, too heavy and too hungry for data. If they have a deal that they want to protect they keep that data out of the system, so that it doesn't become visible to their managers. They believe that visibility too early in the deal cycle may create the kind of interest that could kill the sale. Managers know this and distrust the quality of the data in the system and the pipeline forecasts it produces.

The data issue isn't an enormous problem if the system is forecasting the performance of a reasonable sized business or a division within a holding company since the forecast algorithm can be tweaked to produce a figure which is acceptably accurate. It is at the level of the team or the individual that CRM forecasts fall apart, and because the salespeople believe that the system can't help them - they aren't getting much that is useful today - they don't take the trouble to key in more data. They just don't see the payback.

CRM providers have been telling us for years that it will all come good as soon as the sales team learns to love the system. It hasn't happened yet and unless the systems change radically, it won't happen at all.

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