Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Salesforce Automation - Complication

If, as a salesperson, you've worked for several companies, you're likely of the poor souls who have been forced to embrace a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or Salesforce Automation (SFA) tool. Long ago, these tools were the old familiar Franklin Planners, DayRunners or DayPlanner binders. The digital age has changed everything and most organizations understand that centralized management of customer information is an important concept. What if a salesperson leaves? With centralized management, the data stays with the company.

CRM tools also help organization run forecasting reports, assist in sales activities and generally help companies become more productive and efficient. Oh really, you say. Well, at least that's the pitch. Don't get me wrong, you'll rarely find a stronger supporter of centralized CRM tools for a salesforce than I, but picking one that helps salespeople achieve their objectives rather than pose as a sales obstacle is critical.

Most salespeople are resistant to change (even if it's good for them). CRM adoption is something that must be carefully planned in order for salespeople to understand why this is good for THEM, not just the company. Truthfully, CRM is awesome for salespeople. It assists with customer follow-up, time management and accurate sales reporting.

Here's my take on a few of the many CRM tools out there and where I stand (briefly):

  1. - May be one of the best one's out there. Many large organizations are embracing this hosted tool which can be accessed via any Web Browser. It's intuiative and it has fantastic add-on applications which make the tool even more powerful. Unfortunately, the tool is relatively expensive and salespeople complain of the constant hitting of the "back" button to navigate.

  2. Microsoft CRM - This SQL-based CRM gains market share every year because Microsoft dominates the end-user environment. Companies are drawn to a common look-and-feel from MS Office products and the Outlook integration is excellent. CRM version 4.0 is a good choice for those companies that plan on using other back end solutions that take advantage of a common SQL platform. One common complaint I often hear regarding MS CRM is that it just isn't intuitive for salespeople. I agree. It feels like an operations person wrote it.

  3. ACT & GoldMine - Why do I lump these both together? Well because they really belong in the small business/sole proprietor category. These applications rock and they give fantastic, intuitive screens of CRM data. The catch: they just don't play well in a networked, larger organization. If you run your own business; however, look into these two programs.

  4. Seibel - Don't get me started. Along with Oracle CRM, these monster programs are just unacceptable versions of modern CRMs. Still designed to look like a mainframe dumb terminal, any salesperson considering working for a company who uses these CRMs should think very carefully about what life is going to be like trying to manage a dinosaur.
Straight talk here - use a tool that makes sense for you and your company. If your organization is considering buying CRM, actively participate in the decision if you can. You'll be that much more successful!

1 comment:

  1. We use "Landslide" which has some pretty cool features...and some bugs which we are working through. But you are right about the adoption. It can be very hard to convince a sales team to spend the time to adopt a new system when all they want to do is sell!

    Salespeople as a whole I think hate organization--flying by the seat of their pants (me included) is just in their DNA. But, it IS good for them and they will make more sales if they can get more organized, and CRM helps a ton.