Is CRM out-dated?

by Nancy Nardin on January 25, 2012

email Is CRM out dated?

caveman sstools2 298x300 Is CRM out dated?Packaged SFA and CRM systems have been around for nearly 30 years. Though they have changed in some ways (SaaS offerings, added functionality), they haven’t changed in FUNDAMENTAL ways. They are essentially still an interface to a database.

They rely on people entering, managing, viewing, cleaning, and massaging data. To get value from CRM systems, you must provide consistent feeding and nurturing. For salespeople, manual input and management of data is not an efficient use of time – not to mention that it doesn’t reflect the way humans work naturally.

Salesforce.com was perhaps innocently born of a desire to support sales organizations and to do it in a more affordable way, that is, as a service. But they have doubled down on CRM as a platform, piling on new functionality as a way to expand their reach across entire organizations.

Is it now simply using CRM as a way to package and sell database technology? And if so, has that gotten in the way of true innovation in sales productivity solutions?

Not to pick on Salesforce alone, there are well over a hundred CRM solutions that essentially follow the same database approach. For large organizations, the database approach is acceptable from an operational and IT perspective. Their back-end and front-end systems are all dependent on databases and they have the resources to integrate.

Smaller organizations on the other hand, are not as dependent on databases. They’re in the position to demand solutions that are; easiest to use, require the least amount of administrative time, and give back the most value (i.e. they actually help reps sell more).

Helping reps sell more should be the main focus of any CRM system. If that goal was fulfilled, we would not continue to see poor adoption, or begrudging usage, of CRM.

Is it time to look at the problem of managing revenue pipeline activities in a fundamentally new way?

Is CRM – as a platform for sales productivity – outdated?

As head of your sales or marketing organization, are you beginning to ask, “Do we need CRM or do we need something else?”

Join our new LinkedIn discussion: Does CRM really improve sales productivity?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark W. Schaefer January 25, 2012 at 3:12 pm

It’s hard to tell if this is a rhetorical question but I see CRM as more important than ever simply because of the AMOUNT of data available now. We need tools to cut through the clutter, summarize, simplify and CRM, at its best, should do that. Adoption … well that’s another issue! I think the new generation of sale people will have a difficult time operating WITHOUT database tools. The days of the Rolodex and 3-ring binder are limited!

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Nancy Nardin January 25, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Hi Mark,
It’s somewhat rhetorical. What I’m wondering most, is whether CRM as we know it, is outdated. Mainly because of the two points you bring up; the amount of data now available, and the poor adoption.

I’m seeing new approaches from companies like Nimble, and YesWare which address the need for improving sales productivity differently than the traditional CRM players. And then there are some CRM tools like Pipedrive which are sticking with CRM but changing up the way data is managed as reps work deals through the pipeline.

I feel sorry for the new generation of sales people in many ways. Until sales productivity tools put the focus back on the rep, it will just get harder and harder for them to keep up.

Thanks for taking part in the discussion!

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Adrian Davis March 2, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Nancy,

Fair question! I think CRMs have not been developed with the sales practiioner in mind. As a result, sales professionals feel burdened by their use. On the other hand, there are important capabilities that CRMs offer to improve a firm’s understanding of its clients. In an ideal world, companies like Nimble and YesWare will become the front end to enterprise CRM enabling the reps to do their work more efficiently, and the enterprise to benefit from the aggregation of data, which is collected in the natural course of the sales reps doing business.

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