Is “CRM” the biggest fraud….or just misunderstood?!


I was having a conversation with my wife the other day and she mentioned to me that her company is re-evaluating their “CRM Platform”….which in her words SUCK!! The conversation did strike a chord with me which of course precipitated me to do this post. Now, let me say I go waaayyy back to my days as a sales rep in the pharma industry where we didn’t have what you call now a “Customer Relationship Management” philosophy, believe it or not it pretty much was either thumbing through a phone book for available customers or hiring an outside firm to create that customer universe for you. So, when years later someone/company came up with the idea to create this “CRM” technology platform where customers/customer intelligence is captured in a contained reservoir….well I thought “GREAT” I don’t have to do the work compiling customer profiles. Well, that wasn’t the case, the best customer intelligence comes from the salesperson on the street….it’s a personal opinion and one I’ll take to my grave…but I digress. A gentleman by the name of Geoffrey James wrote a piece in MoneyWatch magazine which titled “5 reasons CRM Stinks” in 2007, I thought the article was well written and I wanted to provide you with 5 reasons he says “CRM stinks” below:

• “If I wanted to be a data entry clerk, I would have applied for that job. “With many CRM implementations, sales pros are expected to spend an hour (or more) after each customer meeting, entering excruciating detail about exactly what took place. Most of the time, the requested data has nothing to do with actually making the sale.
• “If I leave the company, they’re going to steal my contacts.” Sales pros often come into a firm with a “Rolodex” full of contacts; all gathered over a lifetime of sales. With CRM, though, it’s not clear who owns contact data once it’s been entered into the system. In fact, if you enter the contacts that you brought with you when you were hired, and don’t keep copies, your new employer might not let you have them back when you leave.
• “All this micromanagement is driving me crazy!” Now that CRM has been integrated with the new breed of smart cell phones, some sales managers want to track the hour-by-hour location and activities of sales reps when they’re not in the office. In other words, if you make your quota by mid-afternoon and take the rest of the day off (a time-honored privilege for a sales pro, in my view), you might find yourself called onto the carpet… or given a bigger quota.
• “The computer thinks it knows how to sell better than I do.” CRM is supposed to help sales pros follow a sales process – a set of steps that leads a prospect from first contact to writing the order. But many CRM implementations hardwire a sales process that only a programmer could love. Making a sale can require subverting the system by entering bogus data – just to make sure the customer gets the order.
• “Why learn this turkey when we’ll have a different turkey next year? “According to some sources, the average tenure of a sales vice president is about 19 months. A change in management often means that the CRM software that the outgoing manager liked will be replaced as well. So why bother to get proficient?

To provide fair balance Mr. James explains in the article that the salespeople he interviewed did NOT say they were unhappy with the CRM platform…..but there was a lot of disconnect at the ultimate objective of this resource. He goes on to say and I wholeheartedly agree with this: “There’s something fundamentally wrong with a technology that you still have to FORCE people to use…..”

And that folks is MY biggest beef with the “CRM” platform and I fault corporate America for enforcing something that is misunderstood or just not educated on.

Having sales operations experience I’ve had the good fortune to open up the “CRM” platform and look under its hood and I have to tell that it’s a very good resource for the sales professional….however it can be complex if real education of its function is not implemented. In terms of customer profiling, segmentation, targeting, call planning, territory alignment, and even budgeting it’s a nice platform. The challenge is when someone has too many toys it makes it difficult to solidify which toy you really want to play with and for that matter understands how the darn thing works….because of so many choices. There are companies out there (including the last company I consulted) shelling out millions of dollars to these “Mercedes Benz CRM Platforms” and they have no idea how to use them or get value out of them. The basic premise of “CRM” is customer intelligence and establishing some type of R.O.I….but the irony is very few understand the virtues of the platform yet spend millions on it and not receive any R.O.I. (doesn’t make sense).

EVERYONE is kicking off the 2014 year fresh and perhaps re-visiting this pricey resource “CRM”, all I’m asking is that before you kick “CRM” out the door take a peek under its hood. Most “CRM” platforms can align with a company’s infrastructure and importantly “Culture” the most critical thing is that it needs to be well educated to the recipients (FORCE THE VENDOR TO DO THIS ADEQUATELY).

Lastly, 2014 is the year of efficiency….don’t waste money on something you know very little about!

Below is the link if you’d like to review Geoffrey James’ entire piece “Five Reasons CRM Stinks”:

You can also checkout my background/work by clicking on the following links:

Andre’ Harrell
AH2 & Beyond Consulting


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