“CRM Compliance”

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Talking about CRM is sure to provoke huge amounts of discussion, pro and con, about these tools.

First, it’s a huge revenue generation sector for the CRM providers. I’m told it’s roughly $40B/annually. And I’m not certain that includes revenues for all the apps that depend on CRM.

Second, in spite of the billions we spend, a friend I trust says there is data showing utilization is around 26%.

I don’t know whether those are accurate data points, but I suspect they are pretty close.



As a colleague, Kevin Dixon, nets it out, “It seems everyone is paying a lot of money for something we don’t use.”

I’ve heard all the whining and complaints, from all parties, about CRM systems. “It takes too much time….. Do you want me spending my time entering data or do you want me to spend my time selling…. It’s just a tool for management to keep tabs on me….. The interface sucks (this is actually true for most systems)….. And on and on and on….”

And then there are the people that hide behind CRM—managers and sales people alike. There are those managers that believe CRM is the source of all insight into performance problems with the sales organization. “If we generate yet another report, we will be able to see what the problem is and how to fix it.”

Or, perhaps, worse than those that hide behind CRM, those that demand their people use it, but never use it themselves. Not long ago, a manager was complaining that his people weren’t keeping their opportunities updated. I asked him to show me some examples. He had to call someone into his office to find and open some opportunities.

There are endless issues that keep sales people, managers, and our organizations from getting the value from CRM they could. And we waste even more time complaining and whining about those issues.

The problem is less with the systems—and I’m not letting the leading suppliers off the hook. Most of their designs, even their newer versions are too complex. There are some new niche vendors who have spent a lot of time developing better user interfaces–yet they face similar compliance issues.

So what underlies the CRM compliance problem?

In my experience, it’s because sales people and managers don’t know how to leverage the systems to make them more productive, effective, efficient—even win more business.



This is less a training issue. Unfortunately, most to the training I see is “keystroke” training. It doesn’t directly address, “here’s how you leverage these tools to ……[be more effective, efficient, impactful, win more deals].” Sadly, even the front line sales people for the CRM vendors struggle with articulating this for their own jobs.

If we focus specifically on the why and how a person becomes much more effective, efficient, impactful productive and even winning a few more deals, we will not have a compliance issue. Once managers understand how to leverage the tool to identify areas where they can be most impactful in coaching and developing their people, they won’t hide behind their reports and they will leverage the tool to help themselves in driving the performance of their teams.

Compliance is an issue because we aren’t addressing the fundamental issue of “how does it help me perform better.” Until we focus on that, compliance will always be an issue and we will fail to get the return we should from our investments in CRM.

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