Are CRM Systems Too Complex for the SMB?
Among managers and small-business owners implementing CRM systems, more than four out of five (82.9 percent) say that getting staff to use the software is the biggest challenge they face, according to a new survey from Really Simple Systems, a provider of hosted CRM software. The survey questioned 500 users of CRM encompassing small and midsize business (SMB) owners, directors, and managers of sales, marketing, and technology personnel on their views of the current state of the CRM market and the efficacy of products currently available.
"With any type of application, people struggle with products if they don't use them," says Laurie McCabe, vice president of SMB solutions for AMI Partners. "In the area of CRM, a lot of those using the applications are not technical people. They're in and out of the office, on sales calls on the phone.... If an application isn't pretty intuitive and natural to use, they have too much trouble using it."
The firms in this space want CRM systems because they recognize that they need to retain and expand sales to current customers to be successful, she adds.
John Patterson, CEO of Really Simple Systems, argues that SMBs using CRM systems would prefer simplicity, but application developers and marketers are focused on additional features as they develop and promote updated versions of the applications.
McCabe counters that it's not so much that users don't want
the additional functionality, it's that they want any complexity from that additional functionality to be masked behind a simple interface. "For example, Amazon and eBay provide a lot of functionality, but their systems are virtually idiot-proof," McCabe says. Many of the CRM systems designed for SMBs, by contrast, are stripped-down versions of systems designed for larger firms.
However, there are free, low-cost, and trial versions of CRM software that may offer SMBs some good alternatives to try applications to see if they meet the company's needs without being too complex, according to McCabe. "Simplifying software is becoming a critical differentiator if you want to play in the SMB market," McCabe adds. "CRM companies are moving along the [simplicity] continuum as fast as they can."
The survey also found that:
- More than two in five (42.9 percent) respondents use less than half of their existing CRM system's functionality.
- More than half (50.5 percent) say that synchronizing data is a major issue.
- More than a third (67.1 percent) say that finding time to evaluate CRM systems is a major issue.
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