The complexity of CRM is fundamentally undermining its value. Over the past few years, the CRM system has been taken over by marketing, management and customer services. Rather than simply collecting basic customer information, including name, email and a quick review of recent conversations, to meet the needs of these different departments sales staff are now required to complete multiple pages for each and every customer interaction.
With 63% of CRM systems are now deemed failures, is it any wonder that the quality of information within the CRM begins to deteriorate within months of deployment? As John Paterson (FCA) Chief Executive, Really Simple Systems, insists, it is time for the sales team to reclaim CRM.
Disengaged Sales Staff abandon CRM systems
In this era of in depth customer insight, it is completely understandable that the sales manager wants to use the CRM system to gain greater insight into both the customer base and the performance of sales staff; that the marketing team wants to analyse customer interactions to improve email marketing; and customer services wants to gain access to the latest information regarding each customer interaction. But in a bid to capture this information, too many companies have compromised the CRM and put untenable – and unjustified – pressure on the sales team to act as information brokers.
Recording in-depth information about the technical information provided to a customer, or completing a long list of tick boxes has become an increasingly time consuming and arduous component of the daily sales process. Sales staff are discouraged – and increasingly unconvinced of the value of CRM. As a result the business is often compelled to force staff to complete the information requirements by the use of penalties. So much for CRM playing an essential role in the sales process.
Refocusing CRM on Sales
To turn the tide of CRM failure, organisations need to go back and reassess the fundamental reason for investing in this technology. Bottom line, it is about making more sales to new customers and improving up- and cross-selling to existing customers. Essentially the CRM system has to work for the sales staff – not the other way round. And that means it has to make their day to day job easier – having meaningful conversations with customers and prospects; not spending hours filling in fields in a computer system.
So how can a business get the sales staff to re-engage with the CRM? There are two key requirements. Firstly, ensure it delivers tangible, day to day value. Secondly, minimise the time spent updating information. A CRM that provides a single source of information, including email, calendars and all contact details, enables a salesman to rapidly locate the latest customer conversation before a meeting and remove the need to access multiple systems.
More critically, however, it is by minimising the amount of administration and information update that the business can transform CRM’s value to the sales team. The reality is that the business should be able to gain the vast majority of the information required from clear, concise notes provided by a good sales person. Deploying a CRM should be a sales led project – and that means enabling the sales staff to take the lead during the design phase and ensure the functionality reflects their specific requirements. This will keep the CRM simple and avoid the extraneous and unnecessary information demands that undermine the perception of the system’s value.
Sales people should be selling – not performing an admin function for the rest of the business; and unless organisations start simplifying the CRM system, that failure rate will continue to creep up. Surely it is better to have a system that delivers 80% of the information requirements and is used every single day to deliver business value, than a complex system that meets 100% of requirements but quickly falls out of favour?