The story began more than a decade ago, when customer relationship management (CRM) promised to change how you do business, improve how you sell, and more. Sellers believed that with this technology alone, they would have better relationships with their customers and marvel at new and organic growth. Yet the best sales reps understand that for a truly fruitful sales-customer relationship, a two-way conversation must exist. This is something that CRM simply cannot provide. While CRM is a key part of an organization's infrastructure, at the end of the day, it's an automated way to collect data—that is all.
While a CRM database is essential for most businesses, it won't necessarily fulfill the vision that was communicated for it when CRM tools were first introduced. CRM offers a wealth of back-end value; but for sales reps on the front lines, additional assistance is needed when speaking to customers if they are going to really change how they do business. As such, the sales execution market is now working to boost CRM's capabilities by filling in the gap between what it can do and what is needed.
Dear CRM, I think we've grown apart instead of growing together...
Managing contacts in your CRM system does not guarantee you will lock in new deals. This, of course, is evidenced by the high percentage of sales reps who are not meeting their quotas. CRM also does not help sales reps understand how to stay relevant to their customers' needs, nor does it help them engage at the right time; the fact of the matter is it shouldn't have to.
When CRM was first introduced, its original function morphed into expectations for sales reps that have still not been met. Yet there are ways that business leaders can complement the CRM function to help sales reps in the way they need it most.
Dear CRM, I need more from this relationship!
To understand the unfulfilled promise of CRM, we must also recognize what it does right, and where technology today can help it satisfy the current needs of sales reps.
Many business leaders rely on CRM as a lifeline for their sales reps to grow and maintain relationships with new and existing customers. Yet for business leaders who are looking for their sales reps to make quota faster, is this what we should be prioritizing? Excellent leads may be funneled into and out of your CRM, but at the end of the day, it's what's done with these leads that actually closes deals and generates profit for an organization.
We are at a tipping point, where applications are now uniquely positioned to change the way customer interaction happens. Data is just data, and CRM does not help sales reps close more deals—that's not its purpose. New technology-powered processes convert back-end data into insight to help facilitate execution. By implementing guided selling and personalized sales content to complement CRM, sales reps will experience far greater ROI and unlock the back-end value of this data to their benefit.
The bottom line: If CRM is not helping reps know their customers better and build fruitful relationships with them, it's not CRM's fault. Sales teams need new technology to implement repeatable processes that increase ROI by using the knowledge their CRM solution provides as a foundation. Sales execution technology just may be it.
Christopher Faust is the chief marketing officer at Qvidian.