• Chris Hamoen

CRM is not a Database.

I was listening to a VP Sales friend the other day talk about their corporate CRM app at their company. She was struggling with end user adoption, and found herself providing a lot of support to her sales team.

"No, don't open the Organization tab, open the Contacts tab, scroll down, then click the edit button at the far right."

"To run a report, click the reports section and be sure to run the report on Accounts & Contacts, not just Contacts."

"To qualify a lead, click edit, then the convert button. Then pick the account record to associate it to. Make sure to click the Save button."

This sounds like someone providing support for a Microsoft Access database from the early 90's (I just dated myself).

Why does CRM software have to be this complicated? Why does the technical nature of software bleed into how it is designed?

In consumer software, no one says "Edit your friend record".

When you think of CRM as a Database, it becomes a Data Entry Tool

Behind the scenes, CRM does have a database. That's true. But so what?

If CRM is a customer database, then instagram is an image database. Twitter is a microblogging database. Whatsapp is an encrypted chat database.

When you think of CRM as a database, you focus on database things. Not workflow, process, or value. You say "did you enter the information needed so I can run my forecast report", instead of "how are we doing against quota this month?"

Everyone wants Data, but no one wants to enter it

The secret truth of CRM - no one wants to enter data into it. Most of the blame lies in the tools - they are hard to use, slow, and awkward. They don't follow the flow of how sales people work. No one wants to use them.

But how you view the tools that drive your business matters too. Don't ask for the data for that report, ask for the value and knowledge you are gaining and connect to how you will make informed decisions.

Remember: sales people are managers of their own territory and want this data for themselves too. By connecting to the value, you move past data entry conversations.

CRM is Customer Relationships and Business Growth

Let's run through a quick reminder of what CRM is and what value it should bring to the business. 

CRM does the following:

  • connects your team to always be in the loop (no surprises)

  • directly impacts the ability of your sales team to win more business

  • helps you understand risks and potential within your business via accurate sales forecasting

  • make things easier for your team to respond to customer requests

There is a lot more, but the core of CRM is to know your customer and grow your business.

So What about Sales Canvas?

We are founded on the principle that business software should provide value to all users - CRM must directly impact efficiency and effectiveness in a way that encourages everyone to get on board.

Let's agree to move on from calling CRM a database and focus on how it provides business value to everyone in the organization.

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