Not getting the ROI from your CRM?

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Wow! Can you believe that 135,000 people attended Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce this month? 135,000 people! That’s amazing, so I tip my hat to Salesforce.com for being the top leader in CRM solutions.

Out of those 135,000 attendees, what percent would you say actually have ways to measure what the ROI is for their investment? Then, I wonder how many of those people are satisfied with whatever that ROI happens to be?

I believe that CRM’s are part of the sales tools that are difficult to manage and are even harder to measure. Someone, much smarter than me, once said that “you can’t measure what you can’t manage” and that makes a lot of sense to me. One of the biggest complaints about CRM’s is getting their people to update it and keep it fresh which is a constant battle among organizations to stay on their people to do that. For a lot of organizations, CRM’s are a management nightmare because sales people don’t see how it helps them sell anything; it’s just more overhead for them.

There are a lot of discussions out there about whether or not CRM’s help sales people or management more. I’d say that hands down it is more of a management tool than a sales tool. It allows organizations to track activity into those accounts that their sales people are calling into. So, when they have turnover, management has an organized way in which to pick up the ball and handle those accounts that are still in the pipeline and provide the replacement with some account and territory history.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that salespeople don’t get value out of a CRM, because they do. It is impossible to remember every historical event or conversation that took place with every account and contact unless you have some historical reference into those accounts and contacts. CRM’s also become action reminders to prompt sales people to call back at an appropriate time.

On the other side, CRM’s are just electronic 3 x 5 cards like I used to use before we had CRM’s, and they really don’t do much to help sales people sell anything. That’s why Salesforce.com has thousands of add-on business partners to provide additional tools that actually do help sales people sell.

Back to the not getting the ROI out of your CRM question, CRM’s have just become one of the modern ways in which sales organizations need to function. CRM’s take away the old argument of who owns an account, the sales person, or the company? In my mind, there is no argument; the company owns the account, whether it is a client or prospect. Organizations are the ones who paid the sales person to develop those accounts, not only by their paychecks, but by all of the underlying costs that went in support of developing those accounts.

So, if your CRM does a good job of helping your sales people keep track of their accounts and gives management a sense of security in their ability to keep those accounts active when there is turnover, as well as lets them track what is going on in those accounts, then I’d say that you probably are getting the ROI that you need from your CRM. At least that’s the way I see it, what say you?



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