CRM Debacle

If you’re a sales productivity stat junky, you’re probably familiar with the one about how salespeople use their time. According to CSO Insights research, only 35% of their time is spent selling. Another common stat both Forrester Research and Corporate Executive board quote from their research is that 57% or more of a buyer’s decision process is complete before first contact with a vendor sales rep.

Here’s the stat that should concern any stat junky the most. According to Gartner Group, Total Worldwide CRM Software revenue in 2014 is predicted to hit nearly $24 Billion. Shocking… yes. But get ready to shake your head and drop your jaw; research has shown that CRM adoption is less than 50% (poor adoption is around 74%). That means that $12 Billion worth of CRM investments in 2014 alone will face a questionable return.

If your dollars can be counted among the $24Billion at least you know you’re not the odd-man out. That in itself is shocking—just how many companies are caught up in the debacle!

Why the low adoption rate and what to do about it.

One of the reasons why salespeople recoil from CRM is that it just takes up too much darn time, with not enough benefit in return. (see The Two Biggest Reasons Sales Tools Fail”). Salespeople need to see a clear benefit and for them it often comes in two forms, motivation and convenience.


Much of CRM resistance is due to a natural reluctance to learn new habits and work-styles. Gamification can help. That’s because one of the best ways to reinforce behavioral change is to make it fun and competitive. FantasySalesTeam has come up with a gamification solution that does just that based on fantasy sports. One of the things that make FantasySalesTeam different from other gamification systems is that it transforms salespeople into players. And they can form their own fantasy sales teams. It will boost CRM adoption no matter which CRM you use.


If your sales organization is highly mobile, CRM may no longer be (if it ever was) the best tool for your mobile reps. Not that you should ditch CRM altogether, just don’t make your mobile Salesforce use it as their main interface for inputting or retrieving data. Use a tool like Front Row Solutions to move the 65/35 efficiency needle to a more balanced ratio that will deliver more revenue. Use your CRM more like the database it is. Feed it with data that reps enter from their smart phones or tablets.

Clari is another tool that leverages CRM while giving reps a completely different way to interact with the data. Instead of fetching information from multiple CRM screens, Clari delivers the information they need as they need it. Finally, you can make your CRM work for you rather than the other way around.

If you haven’t yet decided on a CRM system, now is the time to think about what you need a CRM system to do for you and how it can and should help all users (especially salespeople). Look for next generation sales tools like Pipeline Deals. Pipeline Deals takes minutes to install and brings together features that today’s teams need like leaderboards, and social selling tools..

Do not underestimate the importance of ease-of-use if you want salespeople to use it. To learn more about why, read “The 8 Buying Considerations CRM Vendors Don’t Want You to Know About” (hint they all have to do with USEABILITY).

The key take-away here is that it’s time to really put technology to work for sellers. Technology isn’t working for your sellers if they aren’t using it. Implementing a CRM system (or any sales tool) isn’t the point; in fact it can actually be counter-productive in many cases. Investing in sales tools that actually address sales rep productivity is the only approach that will keep your company from losing its shirt in the $12billion debacle.