(This post originally appeared on Forbes)
I want it known that I enjoy cleaning our bathrooms.
To me, there’s a certain satisfaction in the scrubbing of toilets, the polishing of sinks and the mopping of a floor, let alone that distinct and somewhat comforting disinfectant smell (I like Pine-Sol). But as much as I enjoy the act of cleaning, I don’t make a living doing that. I make a living implementing customer relationship management systems. Maybe I should reconsider what I do.
Why? Because a new study from research firm Beagle Research in partnership with Oracle is telling me so. The study, which surveyed over 500 line of business employees with primary responsibilities of selling to new accounts via digital tools in the business to business space, revealed something very disturbing for CRM implementers like myself. Apparently, a great majority of these people would rather clean their bathrooms rather than update their CRM systems.
66 percent of them as a matter of fact!
And the complaints get even worse. 90 percent of the survey’s respondents complained that the extra time it takes to enter data, work on multiple applications and endure training meant that their CRM systems actually made their jobs harder. Others are frustrated with tasks that could be automated, as well as the amount of time it takes to update their databases and re-enter mail or calendar data into multiple places. In the end, those 66 percenters said they would not only prefer to clean their bathrooms over upgrading their CRM systems, but also stand in line at the DMV, get stuck in traffic, do jury duty or even…now hold on a minute…visit the dentist. The dentist!
“Our research has shown that outdated CRM systems are not only impacting sellers’ productivity, but are also impacting the overall financial performance of organizations,” Denis Pombriant, managing principal, Beagle Research, Inc. said in a statement. “The CRM systems that are widely used today are simply not adequate.”
I disagree. Today’s CRM systems are not inadequate. It’s just the way they’re implemented.
There are literally hundreds of potential CRM applications on the market today and a few dozen which I would call leaders overall. When I speak to prospective clients I’m never short of alternatives to offer. And here’s the fact: in today’s cloud based world where CRM vendors can watch and quickly copy each other, the features and functionality of most of the mainstream products are quite satisfactory.
The problem isn’t with the applications. It’s that these systems are set up the wrong way. That due to two reasons.
The first is that many companies – particularly smaller companies – think they can implement a CRM system on their own. They can’t. Sure they can follow the instructions, watch some videos and lean on a vendor’s support. But for the most part those vendors don’t truly know their customers and those customers usually have little experience with CRM systems and what they can do. They don’t know the right way to set them up. They’re not fully aware of all the features that they can be using – and even just as importantly – ignoring. They skimp on training and don’t invest in internal resources. In the end, they shoot themselves in the foot and wind up with nothing more than a glorified rolodex. Of the 600 clients my company serves I would estimate that maybe 20 percent are using their CRM systems to their fullest capabilities. The remainder are unwilling to simply try harder.
The CRM vendors are also to blame. They make it seem as if a customer can just push a button and, like a wizard at Hogwarts, sales will magically appear! They dupe their customers into thinking that these systems are so easy to use that anyone can be successful, regardless of the time and investment needed and the internal culture required to really leverage a CRM’s power. They also avoid sharing revenues – even simple customer leads – with their channel partners and consultants because they’re greedy and this greed ultimately hurts their end user customers.
So what happens? A poorly implemented CRM system that results in users literally preferring to clean their bathrooms or go to the dentist rather than using it. And that’s a shame. Because when a CRM system is implemented the right way it can significant impact a company’s productivity and profits. But hey, if you prefer to clean a bathroom rather than making this investment go for it. I’ve got plenty of Pine-Sol available if you’d like to borrow.