Why is CRM such a pain for sales people?

CRM systems are not for the faint hearted. They seem doomed to fail or at least splutter along in many SME organisations. Where I’ve come across them there is normally a general moan that they’re not easy to use, there’s no regular training on them and it takes it too much valuable time to input the required data.

It’s a great pity if this is not addressed or resolved as the company as well as its people lose out on a valuable source of information which can become powerful strategic data if used properly. Ultimately saving both individuals and companies a lot of time.

CRM needs leading from the top. If the Managing Director is not prepared to buy in, or the Sales Director doesn’t use it either then it’s an uphill battle getting his or her sales force to use it effectively.

CRM fails for the following reasons:

  • Lack of unclear objectives for information goals from the system. If these are addressed in a clear and precise manner, linked to the sales strategy then the value of reports which can be extracted becomes vey powerful and useful to sales teams and their management.
  • As above, lack of buy in from senior management.
  • Too many ambitious objectives from day one. This results in complicated systems which lead to demoralised staff being turned off by a seemingly complex software tool. Yet more time spent on administration (not the sales person’s favourite activity..).

Objectives should be introduced in a tiered manner, over a period of time to encourage useage and change behaviour. It would be a good start to kick off with using the system as a project management and forecasting tool, for example. Sign everyone up to this task and get them to use it regularly. Then move on to a second objective.

  • Lack of ongoing training. To encourage behaviour change and useage adoption users need to know they can get quick help and solve their problem without being made to look a fool or admit they don’t know something they’ve already been taught. Ongoing training and refresher courses help them bring up questions they otherwise might be afraid to ask.
  • Lack of early adopters and ‘super users’. These individuals may have been part of the pilot scheme to bring the CRM onboard and they have already bought in and can help trainees.
  • Lack of a well co-ordinated pilot scheme to sort out how the CRM can be properly customised to the organisation and made as simple as possible for users to take up.

If the above are addressed in the planning and implementation stage then there’s greater chance of a successful outcome and sales people who can run their territories with clear visibility on their businesses.