CRM is (Almost) Dead.

Last Updated Feb 22, 2008 9:52 AM EST

CRM and SkullfaceNot the technology, but the buzzword.

Ten years ago, "Customer Relationship Management (CRM)" was called "Sales Force Automation (SFA)." Then SFA started getting a bad name because so many of the systems turned out to be expensive mistakes. Vendors switched to CRM buzzword to avoid the taint.

Same thing is now happening with CRM buzzword. Many CRM systems are implemented simply to supply management with data; very few systems actually help sales pros in the day-to-day task of selling. Many sales pros feel as if they're being asked to be data entry clerks -- and give away their contacts, simply to help their managers make fancy reports.

Now that CRM is starting to get a bad reputation, providers of sales-oriented technology are struggling to dump the acronym. Today, about half the websites selling some kind of sales technology already avoid the "CRM" moniker. Instead, they sport a variety of terms like "Sales 2.0" or "Sales Enhancement Technology" or "Sales Productivity Improvement Tools."

Eventually, a new term for "CRM" will crowd the other terms out. By that time, the number of self-identified "CRM" providers (like the SFA brethren) will dwindle to a handful. The technology will still be around, of course, but it will be sold under a different buzzword. And probably encounter the same problems with user adoption that SFA and CRM encountered.

Since there's to be a new buzzword, any suggestions what it should be? If I get some good suggestions, I'll run a poll in a future post so everyone can vote on them.