Has CRM Failed?
Late in December I sat in on a webinar, as is obligatory that time of year, there was a lot of pontificating about Sales 2.0 and trends for the coming year. In today’s post as in a post later this week, I’ll be looking at a couple lines of discussion that caught my attention.
Specifically today I want to react to a statement a proponent of Sales 2.0 made. In trying to add some depth to this marketing term, they said something to the effect that Sales 2.0 is the technology that addresses the void left “now that CRM has failed.”
Nice one I thought, with one fell swoop, he has killed CRM, and anointed Sales 2.0 as the second coming. Ah, I get it, second coming, Sales 2.0, can’t be coincidence, ha? It was a great way to shift the discussion from examining the validity and promise of 2.0 to the frustration many feel with their CRM deployment. But there was no attempt to validate whether CRM has indeed failed, and if it did, would other technologies do better or suffer the same fate. By the way, I would argue CRM has indeed not failed.
Yes it is true that many companies have not achieved all they had hoped for with their CRM roll out, but at the same time you can point to many that have. So it is probably more accurate to say that some roll outs have failed, others have not. If that is the case, then I think it is fair to say that the success of Sales 2.0 will also depend on the quality of the roll out, and as such will face the same challenges in adoption and conversion, and will lead to some great success and some massive failures.
One underlying elements is how the technology is sold at the outset. Often CRM is sold to management as a great tool for increasing visibility and control. The executive spends the money, they build some great dashboards, they “enforce compliance” and then they expect results. Time passes, very few results, what do we do now; “I know, let’s get some mouse pads out there and have some contests, that will get usage up, and we’ll have what we want.” Well not really, the problem is the front line staff has not been sold on what’s in the CRM for them, and how to get the most out of it to help them sell and succeed. The front line often sees it as just another project thrust on their already busy day by IT, Marketing or senior management. What’s to say that the same thing won’t happen with Sales 2.0? In fact you can see this already when you talk to reps and how they see Sales 2.0.
The other challenge facing CRM is that at times they are deployed to solve problems that it was not meant to solve. Specifically, issues that persist when there is a lack of a sales process to begin with. Without a sales process, one runs the risk of the CRM becoming a fancy contact management system rather than a tool that drives the relationships with your customers. That same lack of process will not only impact Sales 2.0, but be compounded by the nature of the technology, being primarily a social broadcast environment rather than a business intelligence tool.
Remember that Managing Relationships with Customers was a smart way of doing business before the technology came a long. What made it a solid business concept was that it was based on how to best interact with your prospect, and continue to enhance that interaction with them once they become your customers. If you start and end with that premise, technology is an enabler, other wise it is just a cost.
When you start out with the wrong premise, no process to manage it, then throw some technology at it, and you will fall short, no matter if it is CRM, Sales 2.0 or even 3.0 now being cooked up somewhere I am sure. So before one revels in the “failure” of one technology, it would make sense to ensure your technology doesn’t face the same potential pitfalls.
EXTRA: You will also want to check out Salesopedia.com for an exclusive piece I wrote for them titled “Plan Goals and Plan On The Means Of Hitting Them”, a look at hitting your goals not just planning. Last year I had the #2 most read article on Salesopedia.com, let’s see if we can do better this year, enjoy and profit.
What’s in Your Pipeline?