Why B2B CRM systems are not the best friends of sales teams

Koen De Witte
Koen De Witte

I recently sat down with Koen de Witte, Chief Weaving Officer of Leadfabric, a one stop shop for international B2B sales and marketing professionals that offers solutions, including marketing automation (Eloqua, Marketo, Pardot,…), to help their clients ‘weave’ eye-opening marketing acts with optimized sales execution.

In this post a look at why B2B CRM systems (Customer Relationship Management) are not the best friends of sales teams, in a follow-up post what should be done to change this in the view of Leadfabric.

Sales force accounting: setting the scene

When making an audit of your current sales management IT tools, you will probably notice that they are focussed on issues such as estimating future sales conversions or the performance of individuals.

It’s called sales force accounting and it is a very important part of sales management. Predictability and being able to see what’s coming next is what many managers wish to optimize. The only question is where the customer fits in all this? Right, nowhere.

Tom Siebel, who we don’t have to introduce to you, once wrote: “An informed sales force uses technology to maximize the individual salesperson’s time, provide complete access to all relevant corporate and market information to make the sale and position that salesperson to independently make critical decisions that best serve both the immediate and long-term needs of the customer” (Virtual selling, Tom Siebel, Mark Malone 1995).

Where are the customer and the sales rep?

Since Siebel wrote that we are 15 years further and in reality CRM and SFA (Sales Force Automation) are more monitoring tools for management and thus the enemies of the sales team.

They attribute little or nothing to the possibilities for sales teams to generate extra revenues or shorten the sales cycles. Even worse: because sales sometimes refuse to use the CRM or SFA tool, the management reports are in reality often not really useful.

What has to happen is that the systems do more than only managing the sales process: they also have to facilitate the customers’ buying process. If a CRM system helps a sales person in doing that, he will welcome and use it.

Since the very beginning sales automation systems had an image of unfulfilled expectations. Until now, traditional systems have failed to increase the productivity of the sales team. On top of that they are often expensive. But the fact that they seldom or never add value to the customer interactions is the reason why the systems don’t work.

Companies need to have another approach regarding these systems in order to have them used by their sales people. In a next post we will tell you how to get there.