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Study: Sales Teams Don’t Gain Full Value from CRM Programs

CRM software is designed to help companies strengthen customer relationships and boost sales. Most times, however, it fails to do either.

July 20, 2015

3 Min Read
Study: Sales Teams Don’t Gain Full Value from CRM Programs

By jeff_oheir_1

CRM software is designed to help companies strengthen customer relationships and boost sales. Most times, however, it fails to do either.

ZS Associates, a sales and marketing consulting firm, came to that conclusion in its new report, "Where CRM Falls Short and What to Do About It," by Ron Siahpoosh, ZS’s CRM practice lead.  

Many VARs have transitioned away from selling CRM software over the years, mainly due to vendors’ direct sales strategies. The lack of VAR guidance in pre- and post-sale consulting, however, could be part of the problem. Some of the difficulties unearthed in the survey seem to stem from poor training and purchasing/implementation guidance. VARs could offer their customers a valuable service by helping with those processes.

CRM programs come in a variety of sizes and price points, but most share the same problems across industries and regions: Sales associates resist using CRM software because they think its prime reason is to help their bosses keep track of them, according to the report. On top of that, sales managers don’t trust the quality of the data because they’re under the impression that sales associates enter whatever they think management wants to see. 

Things don’t get much better the higher you go. Company leaders don’t trust CRM data to produce actionable insights and they don’t believe the software delivers much ROI.

In other words, the sales leaders ZS surveyed—75 percent from manufacturing, software, healthcare, financial and professional services companies with more than $10 million in revenue and 50 percent from those with more than $100 million—think most CRM applications are a waste of time and money.

All major CRM platforms contribute to the pain. About 54 percent of the respondents use salesforce.com, 19 percent use SAP, 17 percent use Microsoft Dynamics, 13 percent use Siebel, 10 percent use Oracle and 29 use others. Across the board, respondents said “60 percent of CRM implementations fail” and those that do succeed could be used more efficiently and provide greater value.

Here are some of the survey’s main findings:

  • The largest number of respondents generated “high to extremely high” or “moderate to high” value with opportunity management, customer information lookup, and performance management applications.

  • The lowest number of respondents said they generated results from compensation management, partner management and collaterals and proposals applications.

  • Companies that exceeded their revenue goals derived the biggest value in performance management applications (44 percent of high performers, compared with 29 percent of total respondents), meeting information tracking (32 percent vs. 26 percent), sales forecasting (40 percent vs. 35 percent), and incentive compensation management (19 percent vs. 14 percent).

  • Dashboards are moderately effective. About 40 percent of the respondents generate the right level of insight from dashboards. About 30 percent said dashboards generated greater insights, while another 30 percent said they generated less value.    

  • Almost 75 percent of respondents said their sales associations did not spend enough time on the company’s CRM platform.

  • One of the biggest barriers to CRM adoption is the accuracy of data related to sales results, existing and potential customer profiles and characteristics, and sales and marketing leads and activities.

  • Less than 25 percent of respondents believed their company’s CRM data was accurate.

  • Companies that provide sales associates with high-quality prospect data create a competitive advantage.

  • Fifty-four percent say increased user adoption is a priority.

To increase CRM adoption, the quality of the data and the software’s support of sales and marketing processes must improve, the report suggests. Those improvements could help to deliver immediate returns by boosting the software’s reliability and ensuring that it leads to specific actions sales managers and associates can immediately act upon.

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