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CRM Has Failed in the Past. Where Must It Be in the Future?
Blog / All About CRM / Feb 23, 2016 / Posted by Nikolaus Kimla / 1285 

CRM Has Failed in the Past. Where Must It Be in the Future?

In this series, we’ve covered why CRM has failed in the past, what is really needed for a CRM today, what we at Pipeliner are doing about it, and just how Pipeliner empowers salespeople.

Now, where should CRM be as we move out into the future? And how should CRM relate to the ongoing digital revolution?

Avoiding Extinction

Today if a business is to survive, it must embrace technology. Many companies have disappeared simply because they didn’t embrace it—and they really had no chance.

Businesses and society seem to be undergoing one of the most fundamental transformations in history. What is happing might better be understood as an Old World dying because a New World is being born. There will hardly be any bridges back to the old state of affairs. Perhaps the most practical premise to navigate by is that whatever can change will change.

Fredmund Malik

Relation to CRM

So what does this mean for a CRM solution? First, it means kind of a reverse look—in order to be embraced by those seeking technology, CRM must in turn deal directly with the business pains that need to be addressed.

There are 3 main parts to a CRM today, and any CRM that is to survive must contain all 3:

  1. It must be easily scalable
  2. Integration of data into it must be easy
  3. It should replace multiple tools

Cutting Down the Multiple

Focusing in on #3 there above, there is an issue that is becoming ever more problematic when it comes to the sheer volume of solutions out there. There are many thousands of applications a company can avail itself of. Companies attempt to play it smart hunt out the “best of breed” for such applications—but in so doing they find the financial outlay to be considerable. Then when a company purchases them, or subscribes to the SaaS, it becomes even more expensive because these solutions require regular updates.

In my opinion the industry is headed for considerable risk because of this. A company can buy yet another app to address just about any problem, which means mounting costs. On the other hand, vendors cannot make such solutions too cheap, else they themselves won’t survive.

The risk factor is that some of the applications aren’t bad—but if left to stand alone they couldn’t survive. They themselves depend on other applications because they are too specialized. If you have too many specialized apps in a company, not only is it a financial problem but one of complexity.

I believe that in the next 2 years companies will be advised to cut down on the volume and complexity of such applications. CRM solutions such as ours are stepping in to pick up the slack.

The 6 Deadly Sins of CRM

Additionally, as we move into the future, any CRM solution to survive must avoid these 6 deadly sins.

#1: Don’t be a “Big Brother”

George Orwell’s famous novel 1984 gave us the term “Big Brother.” In the story, and as it’s used today, the term means having someone constantly watching and monitoring you in order to control you. Nobody likes to live like that—including salespeople or other CRM users.

Pipeliner set out to totally avoid the “Big Brother” syndrome right from the start. Pipeliner is completely designed to empower salespeople, not to control them.

The magic of such an approach can be seen in any company that has implemented a CRM such as this: one of the primary CRM issues is solved—that of correct data in CRM. If users are happy, and using the system because it brings them benefit, the data entered is going to be correct. Correct data is fundamental to everything, including all of your reports and forecasts.

So a CRM shouldn’t motivate with control—it should motivate with actually helping.

#2: Don’t make an easy system complex and difficult

A CRM system (such as ours, for example) can be designed to be totally easy to customize and use. But at the same time, when the system is implemented, it can be overloaded with mandatory fields and be made to require twice the data that is really needed.

In addition to being easy to customize and use, a CRM should be intelligently implemented. What data is really needed for users to use it? All customization should be targeted directly to helping users do their jobs better.

#3: “Always access” to CRM

Despite the fact we’re living in the 21st century in a very technical age, there are still many places in the world—even in fully developed countries such as the US—without Internet access. Anyone using CRM, especially salespeople, must have access to the full system with or without Internet access.

A CRM should make it possible to get the job done online or off.

#4: Don’t kill your adoption rate before you’ve even started

Steering clear of these CRM deadly sins, especially #1 and #2 above, you will make CRM something users desire to use and will adopt. A complex, control-oriented application that users will find difficult to take to will mean a low adoption rate—and your CRM project has died before it was ever born.

#5: Don’t make CRM an island

Although it should certainly be central, a CRM should also not be the only tool that a company or even a sales force depends on. CRM is important, and is becoming more and more the heart of an organization (as we’ve noted, the term “CRM” is no longer correct because it does far more than simply “manage customer relationships”). But even so, CRM should not be an island. It should not be isolated, it should be integrated. When you don’t integrate CRM with your other main systems, it becomes a silo—and the age of the silo is long over.

#6: Don’t choose a CRM that is slow to set up

Don’t choose a CRM that has a ramp-up time like many of the traditional ones do—3–4 months or longer, and long training periods for users. In addition to being intuitive and easy to grasp and understand, a great CRM works best when it has context-sensitive help that can be rapidly accessed when a user doesn’t remember an operational point or needs to learn it newly.

When a CRM is slow to implement and hard to learn, the motivation for using it starts dipping into minus territory—and you’re back into Sin #4 once again.

Heading into the future not only means adopting technology, it means adopting the right technology, and ensuring that your CRM solution conforms to the same standards.

What makes Pipeliner CRM the CRM to bring you into the future? Find out! Download a free trial today.

About Author

A 30-year veteran of the computer industry, Nikolaus has founded and run several software companies. He and his company uptime iTechnology are the developers of World-Check, a risk intelligence platform eventually sold to Thomson Reuters for $520 million. He is currently the founder and CEO of Pipeliner Sales, Inc., developer and publisher of Pipeliner CRM, the first CRM application aimed squarely at actually empowering salespeople. Also a prolific writer, Nikolaus has authored over 100 ebooks, articles and white papers addressing the subjects of sales management, leadership and sales itself.

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