Why Sales Reps Hate CRM.

Last Updated Mar 12, 2008 8:36 AM EDT

Frustrated at CRMI've yet to hear any sales professional say anything good about CRM. Every time I post about CRM (as in "Five Signs Your CRM System is Failing" and "CRM is (Almost) Dead"), the only salespeople willing to praise the technology are the ones selling CRM.

A comment popped up in response to my post "Is Sales Process Worth It?" that's so typical the kind of sales rep complaints that I hear every day that I'm going to quote it verbatim. (A special thanks to the author, BNET member "dawngio", for this gem). Check it out:
I agree that customer information needs to be accessible and kept up to date for the benefit of both sides. On the down side however, sometimes a company will institute what is euphemistically being called a "Sales Process" comprised mostly of some expensive CRM software (formerly known as SFA or Sales Force Automation) designed to "make the sales process more efficient" which, in my experience, only leads to two things (neither one good) unless you have a sale which is NOT relationship driven, long term or complex and can be done by most anyone with a pulse:
  1. It sets up an environment of Big Brother micromanagement. Reps (especially good ones) HATE to be micromanaged. Will it weed out the ones who are not making the minimum or quality calls? Yes, but it will also tick off the best reps and decrease their productivity managing minutiae instead of doing what they do best which is SELL.
  2. It is not likely to provide Management with the data for analysis that they were hopeful of when purchasing the magic CRM system- Garbage in, Garbage Out- the reps will input what management wants to hear whether it is reality or not. (Sorry, CRM Sales Reps, but I've been doing this for 'alotta years)
I might add that CRM also forces sales pros to spend twice as long entering contact information -- once in the CRM system and once in their own contact manager. The reason for the redundant effort is that most companies won't let sales pros take their CRM contact data when they leave the company. Since sales pros naturally want to be able to contact the people with whom they've built relationships, they have to keep their own contact lists. This is not to say that they should immediately, upon leaving, go sell competitively against their former employer. However, contacts ARE the career of a sales pro, and it's unrealistic to expect them to leave a job empty-handed.

Perhaps the worst sign that sales pros hate CRM is that , in order to enforce compliance, sales management is forced to either offer a carrot (like a new qualified lead when the electronic paperwork is done) or a stick (like no commission until it's done). Such ham-handed attempts at manipulation are, in my opinion, a pretty sure sign that the technology just isn't working. And here's why:

If CRM actually made it easier to sell, sales pros would be clamoring for it.
Of course, there's the other stated reason for CRM -- a reduction of cost of sales. But as of yet, I've never seen any annual report that shows a reduction in sales cost that's tied to the installation of a corporate-wide CRM system.

Under the circumstnaces, you'd be completely justified in thinking that CRM is completely useless -- a total waste of time and energy. But you'd be wrong.

Next week, I'll explain how to use CRM software to make it easier to sell. Trust me... you'll be completely and utterly astounded that CRM vendors have so completely missed the point, and at how simple the real solution is.

So stay tuned.
  • Geoffrey James

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