CRM, contact management, and sales force automation; it all rolls-up into the software and information technology to manage customers and contacts. It comes in many forms from a wide range of suppliers, each of whom claims to have the perfect answer to your needs and desires.
As I bear witness to the overabundance of systems and infrastructure, I am getting increasingly fearful that CRM is no longer returning its once sought-after value. Too many companies and individuals are being driven by artificial logic; it’s beginning to show in uncommon ways. No longer do the systems support the way (sales) people work; they are being forced to conform to a system steeped in compliance and low on effectiveness (when it comes to driving more business).
It’s this nagging feeling that has driven me to develop a Top 10 list of knowing when to pull the plug on CRM and start over. Here’s my guide of early warning indicators:
# 10 – Your office supply costs are up significantly for sticky notes. You have noticed an increase in the number of sticky notes on computer screens, phones, calendars, and walls.
# 9 – You notice an increase in salespeople who bring spiral notebooks to sales reviews, and leave their laptops in their office, or car.
# 8 – The amount of crumpled, or balled-up scrap paper is beginning to spillover in the salesperson’s office.
# 7 – Like the dog that ate the homework, when you ask or look for the email communication surrounding a contact, you are told they need to find it in their email client software (e.g., MS-Outlook) and will forward it to you when they find it.
# 6 – Your Help Desk is logging more incidents of laptops losing contact records in the CRM system. The most common notation in the support ticket says, “User said they lost information after they synchronized their entries with the server.”
# 5 – Each time you ask for an update to the sales forecast (from the salesperson), they tell you “I’ll email you a copy of my spreadsheet.”
# 4 – At the last sales meeting, your top salesperson says, “I didn’t know we had a CRM, whatever that stands for. I use my PDA software to keep track of all my contacts.”
# 3 – It takes longer to enter contact notes into the CRM than to fill out an order in the sales order data-entry screen.
# 2 – After a key vendor has announced price increases, you go to the file cabinet and begin pulling copies of current (outstanding) customer quotes and proposals for that vendor’s products.
# 1 – When the CFO asks you for forecasted, booked, and sold business, you offer-up a quizzical look and tell him/her, “Don’t you have that in your fancy accounting system?”
Some of this reminds me of the early days of BMW’s “iDrive” system. Drivers got so frustrated with it that they ceased using it. Although much improved today, it still gets its fair share of complaints and airings of frustration (especially surrounding the GPS and mapping system). Having used both the old-style NAV system and the newer iDrive, I will voice my preference for the older NAV screen and menus.
Adding complexity under the guise of technical advances, or developing sales systems (scripts, steps, processes, et al) to demand order and consistency, often leads to user frustration and abandonment (to lesser systems that are easier to use). Like my older BMW NAV system, a reduced amount of functionality and less “eye candy” can translate to more use and higher levels of user satisfaction.
Before you go adding a new update or upgrade, change systems, or add more advanced CRM to your business, take the time to understand what the impact will be on your sales team. If you find any of the above Top 10 in your operation, think about pulling the plug and starting over.