Troubleshooting skews in CRM data - How CIOs and mobile CRM can drive sales force

Gartner predicts that enterprise spending on CRM will pass spending on enterprise spending on ERP in 2016, putting CRM in top spot in terms of spending on software systems in the enterprise. But while most organisations are by now using ERP to its fullest extent (or at least approximately so), very few have figured out how to get the most out of CRM. The biggest obstacle is getting the sales force to enter information.

CRM only works when marketing, customer service, and sales put quality information into the system. Marketing and customer service generally have no problem doing their bit. But the sales team is usually reluctant to do theirs — and that's why the sales team is the Achilles heel of any CRM implementation.

The sales team's reluctance to input data into CRM usually stems from two issues inherent to the sales job. The first is that the average sales person considers it time consuming to enter information into a system with an awkward user information. Sales people usually aren't tech-savvy; and they have neither the time nor the patience to tinker with a user interface that isn't immediately intuitive. Why should they? Any minute spend on data entry is a minute that could have been spent with a customer.

The second problem is that sales people don't want anybody else to know anything about their customers. And who can blame them? Nobody wants to give away information that might make them replaceable.

Along comes mobile CRM, which promises to become the friend of the average sales person. Superficial studies (from Nucleus Research) have shown that sales teams who use mobile CRM tend to achieve their quotas — both on individual and team quotas — significantly more often than teams who don't use CRM.

If these studies represent what's really happening, this is good news. It's easy to convince a sales person to use a tool that will impact his or her commission in the positive direction. But this only means the sales person is likely to use mobile CRM to get at information already stored in CRM. It says nothing about the problem of getting information back from sales people.

Executives at the highest level of a company put pressure on sales managers to get their sales people to enter information. Some managers have tried penalising sales people who don't enter updates. Others prefer to offer rewards to those who do post updates.

In most cases, though, a sales manager will let the best sales people get away with breaking rules. As long as a sales person is bringing home the bacon, why make him or her enter information into CRM? Using the same line of thinking, sales managers tend not to let the less successful sales people get away with not entering information into CRM. "If you aren't making the sales, we aren't going to let you break any rules."

So what's the result? You get the information on the less successful cases, but not the information on the more successful client engagements. When it comes time to run analytics to make improvements in marketing and sales, such skews might cause your company to make the wrong decisions.

IT directors can help head off the problem by running regular reports on which sales people are updating CRM and how often. Make sure business leaders know where their data is coming from before they go out and make a bad decision.


Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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