Virtually every sales person today uses some kind of system for customer relationship management -- whether it's a sophisticated, company-wide, cloud-based CRM platform, or a simple file system with personal notes, or even their Blackberry with all contacts at their fingertips.
The goal for most companies, large and small, is to offer the sales team a CRM system that helps manage customer relationships effectively and uniformly -- with the ultimate goals of boosting customer satisfaction and increasing sales.
We spoke with a number of CRM industry experts, from a variety of consulting firms to makers of contact-center software, about some of the specific challenges companies face today with implementing CRM effectively.
Challenges: Historic and Modern
We asked Saby Mitra, a manager at ZS Associates, a global sales and marketing consulting firm, for his take on the biggest challenges in deploying and using CRM software today.
"Historically, non-intuitive user interfaces, poor data quality, and lack of offline access have been the top organizational barriers towards the adoption of CRM solutions," Mitra said.
While these challenges still exist in some CRM implementations, he said, the ease of data integration through cloud technologies and the availability of mobile platforms have addressed some of these barriers in the recent past.
"The bigger challenge towards sustained CRM usage however continues to be inadequate change management practices," Mitra said. While a CRM solution may be decently designed and implemented, if the organization does not make a proactive effort to articulate the value of the solution to the sales reps and help them understand 'what's in it for me,' user adoption will continue to suffer.
Driving User Adoption
We heard more about CRM challenges from partner Marshall Perez of Chief Outsiders, a Houston-based HR firm that specializes in placing chief marketing officers. He told us incorporation into daily routines can be very difficult, especially if a company does not have a centralized CRM platform.
"It requires a change in habit. Unfortunately, many sales professionals do not embrace centralized CRM, often because the good sales reps already have their own personal CRM systems," Perez said. And, some may be "reticent to embrace a centralized CRM because of job security considerations." Information is power and giving sales management and other reps access to valuable sales contacts can be seen as a source of concern for reps trying to protect their own assets.
Perez noted that many reps do not have confidence that the information they put into a centralized CRM will be used effectively or appropriately, putting their personal relationships at risk. For that reason, many reps still use the old-school method of a paper file or day planner with handwritten entries to manage their customer activities and relationships. (continued...)
Posted: 2012-05-03 @ 12:50pm PT
Wow Jennifer you really hit the nail on the head. My company is now in the process of implementing a CRM system and all of the aforementioned have cropped up. I don't think anyone considered all of the issues that would throw a major wrench into the adoption process. Great Article, Thank you.