CRMs Can Hinder as Much as Help


Members of sales and finance teams in the last year have been understandably tracking data as it is entered into customer relationship management (CRM) applications more closely than ever. CRM applications are, after all, how most organizations gain visibility into the sales pipelines. Without that visibility it becomes next to impossible forecast revenue at a time when many organizations are trying to manage cash flow as tightly as possible.

The challenge is that all the data being entered into CRM applications takes a lot of time and effort. A survey of 1,000 sales decision-makers in the US, UK, Germany, and Australia conducted by SugarCRM, a provider of a CRM application that can be deployed on premises or in the cloud, finds more than half of sales leaders (53%) report they are fatigued and frustrated by the administrative burden CRM application place on their sales teams. Sales representatives are only spending 54% of their time selling, the survey finds.

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CRM Fatigue

Theoretically at least, every minute spent entering data into a CRM application is a minute a salesperson could be devoting to selling. It’s obvious to all that few salespeople are always selling, so reducing the administrative burden associated with CRM applications is not likely to lead to a proportional increase in sales. Nevertheless, almost half the survey respondents (48%) said their current CRM application is unfit for purpose. More than half (52%) said they believe their CRM systems are costing their organization revenue.

The survey also finds more than half of respondents (56%) reported increases in customer churn in the last 12 months. That’s not wholly unexpected in tumultuous times. The problem is 57% of respondents report having trouble predicting when customers would churn, with almost half (48%) still not knowing why customers churned. That kind of business outcome defeats the purpose of having a CRM application in the first place.

A big part of the issue is that 50% of sales leaders admit that they cannot access customer data across marketing, sales and service systems. As such, no one knows what impact marketing efforts are having on sales or if a service issue has caused a customer to reach a high enough level of dissatisfaction to consider another option.

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Breaking CRM’s Data Entry Barrier

Despite any antipathy a sales team might have toward one CRM application versus another, the decision concerning which one to select often comes down to the personal preference of sales and finance leaders, says Martin Schneider, chief evangelist for SugarCRM. Many sales leaders will swap out one CRM application for another when, for example, they move from one organization to another, notes Schneider. “There’s a lot of politics that goes into CRM,” he adds..

The CRM hope that springs eternal in the meantime is that artificial intelligence will one day eliminate much of the drudgery associated with entering data in CRM applications. There may come a day when most salespeople employ a speech interface to enter data right after they meet with a customer. Regardless of what CRM application is employed, however, the less time anybody spends entering data, the more time there will be to spend on more fruitful pursuits. 

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