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How Far Has CRM Come?

As a sales leadership consultant, I think this article by Lauren Carlson, "SFA 15 Years Later: Now Every Rep's Best Friend," hits on many valid points. The cloud and CRM usability are key elements in the acceptance of CRM, as is the price/cost issue, especially for the SMB market. The marketing campaign features are extremely important and the interface to accounting/ERP systems greatly improves the customer service aspect, as well as gives a more 360-degree view. They make CRM more than a salesperson's tool.

One other element that should be recognized is the "tech savvy" nature of reps today versus even 10 years ago. This has made CRM acceptance so much easier.

However, what is interesting is that forecasting accuracy is still a challenge for the reps/sales managers. Also, training and implementation of CRM is still greatly under-emphasized, and I find many organizations with salespeople using the same CRM system differently and not following a sales process properly. Third, this lack of discipline leads to inaccurate pipeline and activity reporting. 

These few issues are the direct result of sales leadership and are training and management functions. The mistake I see in many CRM systems and vendors is that they focus on the salesperson, not on the needs of the sales manager or organization. Sales leadership requires a more forward-looking approach to build predictable revenue. With a greater proactive approach and sales management focus, the three topics I mentioned above would help the sales manager take greater charge of the CRM tool and it would be more of a useful tool for sales leadership.

Posted by Ken Thoreson on January 17, 2012