A CRM is really just a customer database. And having sales people use your CRM platform means nothing else than having sales people spend a major portion of their day doing data entry.
In the early days, sales people would have a briefcase and walk door-to-door in their territories and sell their products and services. Then a big invention changed the way sales was done forever – the telephone! This was big and empowered sales people to reach people around the country (and later around the world) and sell them via the phone (virtually), and set appointments without having to leave the office.
The next big step forward came with computers/the Internet. All of the sudden, sales people could connect with a global information network and take advantage of that new medium. One of the biggest new communication channels was email. Sales people could send information to prospects,
set appointments, and communicate asynchronously for the first time in history. It was great!The telephone and email were the technologies that changed the sales game forever. They empowered and improved sales people’s performance to new heights.
After them, we added a few new technologies that are a part of sales people’s toolsets and that have had positive, but not groundbreaking, effects. Some examples include:
• Power Point
• Web Conferencing
• Social Networking
A Brief History of the CRM
Now let’s get back to the (evil) CRM. Here is my take on what happened.
At some point companies needed to keep track of all their customers and have up-to-date information on them. Since sales people are the ones that are constantly communicating with customers, they seemed to be the best people to keep all that customer data up-to-date.
Now, you never heard me say there are no benefits to CRMs. Quite the contrary, I think that CRMs are important and necessary. I just don’t think they deserve to be called sales software. A CRM is a database.
In order to be “sales software” it has to be a tool that empowers sales people in the way they communicate with customers. So software for sales people really needs to be communication software. Can you see how a CRM doesn’t really check off on that criteria?
There are approximately 21 million sales people in the world that have forced into “data entry slavery” and I think that needs to change quickly to make sales people happier and more productive participants of our corporate environment.
My prediction for the future of CRMs:
I see a world where sales people will never again interact with CRM software.
I see a world where sales people will have powerful communication tools and will be empowered to spend most of their day with what they love doing – communicating with potential customers.
I see a version of our future in which CRMs are always up to date, and where data is updated in a way that doesn’t require manual labor.