The future of CRM: interview with Nikolaus Kimla of Pipelinersales


Share on LinkedIn

Despite massive investment, many sales leaders remain dissatisfied with the impact that CRM systems actually have on their revenue numbers. I recently had the chance to interview Nikolaus Kimla, the founder and managing partner of Pipelinersales, Inc. and the creator of Pipeliner CRM – one of the new generation of CRM players that offer fresh perspectives on how to support sales teams in achieving their revenue goals.

This is the first of what I hope will be a series of interviews with some of the visionaries that are helping to redefine the future direction of CRM. I trust that you find Nikolaus’ perspectives interesting.

Bob: What does the future look like for CRM?

Kimla 200wNikolaus: There are too many CRM Systems out there and these overwhelm customers. It is challenging for them to figure out which is the ideal system for them. I believe the key aspect of CRM in the future; will be in supporting and helping the customers in their processes.

In the future, CRM will be less about installing a product and more about how to help educate organizations about their processes and how to apply them. You’ll also see a move from massive CRM projects to incremental projects. This is a bottom-up approach where team implementations take place and proof of concept achieved.

In our case, we help educate the individual salesperson to become an outstanding Salesperson, and the company to manage their sales pipeline. This then integrates into their infrastructure and working practises without the need for heavy customization, developers or administrators.

CRM will become less complex to the user. If you look at smart phones with the power and complexity they have, yet their appearance to the end user is simple and easy. You can quickly configure your phone to pick-up email, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or whatever you’d like. This is all achieved through simple to use wizards. CRM systems will become much more like this. You’ll see wizards make complex features easy to implement. This removes the needs for administrators or expensive developers to install what should be a relatively simple system.

Bob: Why do you think so many CRM implementations fail?

Nikolaus: Many CRM vendors still advocate a waterfall method to implementing their software. This involves a linear approach to implementations and large project teams. This is often accompanied by a “Big Bang” approach to CRM. Unfortunately with so many vested interests it becomes difficult to gain consensus on what should be done with the CRM, this leads to delays in the implementation – a key factor for any project to fail. If you then add in the cost of running the team, the cost of the software and the cost of implementation from consultants, this all leads to an expensive project. This is unlikely to be achieved with such a high cost.

Bob: How important is it to keep track of time elapsed when it comes to opportunity management?

Nikolaus: First of all you must have a sales process that your entire team understands and uses. Within this, it is critical to know how long each stage in your sales process each opportunity should take. Without understanding this vital aspect, it is challenging for your sales people to be efficient and use their time effectively. By understanding how long an opportunity should stay at each stage, you can dedicate the appropriate level of marketing resources and sales activity.

Most companies simply do not know how long their opportunities should take to progress through their funnel at each stage. This is why we’re introducing the new Pipeline Velocity feature into Pipeliner CRM. In this way, Pipeliner will help to educate the company and identify how long opportunities take on average to pass through each stage, which in turn allows you to investigate issues and quickly realign your sales processes if needed.

The CRM system needs to have the flexibility to change your sales process, to meet your changing needs and the changing needs of your buyer’s cycle. It needs to be able to do this without IT involved or a full time administrator.

Bob: Finally, what do you see as the keys to accurate sales forecasting?

Nikolaus: The process of pipeline management must be in place, this means:

  • How long the opportunity should run through the system,
  • How many opportunities I need to have for a filled pipe,
  • What sales activities have taken place and how do they correlate to the sales process,
  • What marketing/sales activities have taken place to aid in the buyer cycle,
  • What is the closing ratio of the opportunities compare to the whole value in the pipeline?
  • How does the sales person “rank” their opportunities? This enables them to have involvement and input to their forecast and not just a rigid sales process. This naturally confers a degree of responsibility on to the sales person.
  • Do you support the salesperson with a playbook i.e. a documented sales process, how it works, what are the common objections and counters to them.

All of these elements combined upon what I would describe as an accurate sales forecast.

Bob: Thanks, Nikolaus, for sharing these perspectives. I’m particularly taken by the idea that we need to reduce the complexity of CRM systems if we’re to drive their adoption – and the need to track deal velocity – a subject that has been dear to my heart for some time.

About Pipelinersales Inc.

More than 19 years ago, Nikolaus Kimla set the foundation for Pipeliner’s future with his company uptime IT-Technologies Inc. The creation of Pipeliner CRM initiated in 2007 and has been steadily developed through intense research. Pipeliner is next generation sales CRM software designed to empower sales teams and grow profitable customer relationships. Pipeliner CRM provides new ways to look at—and to interact with—an active sales pipeline. It brings the power of sales data back to salespeople, and makes managing complex sales easy and fun:

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Bob Apollo
Bob Apollo is the CEO of UK-based Inflexion-Point Strategy Partners, the B2B sales performance improvement specialists. Following a varied corporate career, Bob now works with a rapidly expanding client base of B2B-focused growth-phase technology companies, helping them to implement systematic sales processes that drive predictable revenue growth.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here