The B2B community is facing some serious challenges with CRM ROI, but the steps needed to address these challenges aren’t always clear.

CRM Implementation is Growing

CRM software investments have overtaken every other category of enterprise software (by revenue).

(Image Source: Forbes, 2013)


Unfortunately, the exponential rise of CRM implementation hasn’t quite contributed to a renaissance of B2B sales effectiveness.

Sales Effectiveness has been Declining

A study of B2B buyers in 2014 revealed that fewer than one in four sales reps were deemed as knowledgeable about the buyer’s specific business and issues, and are able to position where they can help.

The 12 Billion Dollar CRM Debacle

CRM Adoption Rates are Dangerously Low

A study found on TopSalesWorld in 2015 suggested CRM adoption rates as low as 26%, and this dovetails earlier findings from Smart Selling Tools, where ‘poor adoption rates’ for CRM were indicated by 74% of respondents. Poor adoption of CRM was a main theme of discussion at the 2015 Salesforce World Tour in New York

Businesses are Implementing CRM for the Wrong Reasons

Scaling out from a paper-based manual CRM method was the primary trigger for new CRM implementation in 2015.

CRM Methods in place by those seeking a CRM System

CRM Methods in place by those seeking a CRM System

(Image Source: Software Advice, 2015)


However, many businesses fall into the trap of creating unrealistic expectations for what a CRM system can achieve.

Consider these figures

  • 91% of CRM buyers indicated ‘sales automation’ as a desired CRM feature
  • 30% of CRM buyers indicated ‘marketing automation’ as a desired CRM feature
  • 18% of current CRM owners actively use their CRM for sales and marketing content management

As more SMBs implement CRM, technology expectations must align with attainable CRM outcomes, otherwise issues will develop across the sales process.

CRM Challenges are Vast

Marianna Noll, the Director of Channel Marketing with Ancile noted these challenges being shared at Salesforce World in New York.

  • Users aren’t buying into or using the system
  • Users aren’t entering data properly or completely
  • Once a problem is acknowledged, organizations still struggle to improve adoption
  • Adoption is negative due to high turnover.

Over the last 13 years, 11 separate studies found CRM implementation failure rates averaging 30% to 60%, with little consistent sign of improvement.

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(Image Source: C5 Insight)


CRM failures largely pertain to businesses treating CRM like a panacea for sales needs rather than a jumping off point for holistic sales stack developments.

What do People Need from CRM?

A key to effective CRM adoption is understanding what role CRM plays.

CRM for Marketing Teams

As explained by JP Werlin, CEO of Pipeline Deals, “Managers and marketers love all the extra tools [in CRM].”

Marketing teams take time to carefully plan and coordinate their interactions with customers. Marketing Automation platforms have been around for some time now, and CRM offers integration functionality that enhances targeting and analytics for digital content marketing.

Adoption of Marketing Automation in 2014 was 11 times higher than in 2011, which explains why only 30% expect CRM to automate marketing.

There is an understanding that CRM enhances, rather than facilitates, marketing automation & technology.

CRM for Sales Teams

Sales stack maturity is a more recent development.

The ‘sales automation’ expectation for CRM actually deteriorates adoption. Front line sellers aren’t fooled by unrealistic expectations, and instead many sales reps see CRM as a sales management tool that informs executives about their daily behaviour to enable tighter micro-management.

Best in class sellers will avoid the program in favour of processes they’re already comfortable with.

Continuing JP’s comment from above, “… for a salesperson, they [extra CRM tools] get in the way and are detrimental to the job they’re trying to do.”

A CRM system that is valuable for sales reps needs to meet three basic criteria.

  1. Highly accessible & mobile ready
    As explained by Nancy Nardin, “CRM as we know it today is not, and never will be, an efficient use of a sales rep’s time… don’t make your mobile Salesforce use it directly as their main interface for inputting or retrieving data.”
  2. Automated and real time data updates
    Joel Mudler, consultant for Heller Consulting explains, “Even if you have the most user-friendly, streamlined CRM in the history of CRMs, if your users can’t get reports, dashboards, and other outputs that are easy to generate and accurate they will soon stop trusting the system, and eventually “rogue” spreadsheets and outside database will appear.”
  3. Contextually relevant outputs
    JP, CEO of Pipeline Deals explains, “Salespeople really depend on simplicity and clarity… anytime you look at providing a technological solution to them, you need to plan around their needs.”
How Sales Enablement Revamps your CRM Adoption & ROI

When you expect CRM to be anything other than a database for sales insights, you inadvertently miss the broader role that CRM plays as an essential sales stack component. One industry after another, the sales process is going digital, and sales reps need the right set of tools to navigate this digital sales process.

This is why Sales Enablement Software occupies the short list of five essential sales stack technologies for strong sales stack maturity.

Highly Accessible – Sales enablement works on every device, and keeps sellers working from one platform for all sales interactions, whether in person or through a remote digital sales presentation.

Automated Updates – Sales enablement integrates with CRM and automatically records interaction data to the prospect’s CRM profile in real time – keeping sellers selling.

Contextually Relevant Updates – CRMs have hundreds of features, but sellers need only that information which enables them to ‘sell more in less time.’ Sales enablement filters out non-essential information and keeps the seller up to date with the information that matters.

SKURA is empowering the next generation of digitally-enabled sales consultants through a Sales Enablement Platform that completes a sales stack and return selling time to your sales team. If you’re interested in building out your CRM for a holistic sales stack, visit to learn more.

Kent Potts


Today’s article is a guest post by Kent Potts, EVP & Chief Marketing Officer of SKURA.