While reading Peggy Noonan’s “Neither a Hedgehog Nor a Fox” in the weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal, I was taken by the quote attributed to then President Ronald Reagan, "Man has never developed a weapon he didn't eventually use".
But I couldn’t help but see it in a different light as it relates to software information systems under the label of CRM (Customer Relationship Management). Here’s a competitive weapon that companies have deployed en masse, yet from what I can see, few are really effective and miss the mark when it comes to utilization and efficiency.
Whereas a large multinational company that has thousands of salespeople and solid marketing support may be able to use CRM to near perfection, the average company seems to be stuck in contact management mode; CRM ends up looking like an electronic rolodex that is often out of touch with current events.
Whether I am doing a sales training, or visiting clients and companies that have deployed these systems, I often find that most people struggle to make CRM a useful tool within their organization. Salespeople are frustrated with the complexity to do the simplest of actions and record events, Marketing isn’t quite sure how to employ tracking on a contact by contact basis, and integrated sales and marketing campaigns are nowhere to be found.
The other elusive gain is sales opportunity management and a solid forecasting model. It’s normally a built-in functionality of the system, but seems rarely used to any extent across the sales team. More importantly is the fact that the only sales opportunities in the CRM appear to be the ones that are more than 80% probability, i.e., a sure sale. Where is the ‘cradle to grave’ tracking of each sales opportunity? How can you judge the pipeline of business, or a true ‘close ratio’ of all sales opportunities?
What’s been your experience? Does your team use your CRM to its full extent, i.e., to its complete design capability? Did you start out with the best of intension and slowly erode to a stalemate?