(This column originally appeared in Forbes)
Pipedrive is a good CRM product. But unfortunately a recent press release from the company doesn’t help its credibility.
According to the statement’s headline, Pipedrive reported “record sales growth among small business customers worldwide.” At first when I read this headline I thought, wow, Pipedrive is crushing it with small businesses. But then I read further.
And when you read further into the press release you learn that the company simply revealed that there was “record sales growth across its customer base” within the past year and that “on average, customers won a deal every second day with Pipedrive CRM, which is a key indicator in measuring the impact Pipedrive has on its purpose to help small businesses grow.”
The company also said that “despite the current macro-economic challenges, Pipedrive customers have achieved strong growth and momentum within a year. On average, small business customers won more than 40 percent of all closed deals by using the Pipedrive CRM, which is up 20 percent year-over-year for the past two years.”
I think the point of the press release was to show that small businesses are resilient and growing despite all the obstacles they encounter. And, by the way, Pipedrive played a big part in that growth.
So Pipedrive didn’t actually grow its own sales, as I originally interpreted from the statement’s headline. Fair enough, it’s a simple misunderstanding. However, there is something still very concerning about the press release, something that I often encounter in press releases sent to me: the data.
How does the company actually know that their customers grew their sales? And how do they know that it was because of Pipedrive?
Where does this data come from? How big was the sample size? Was this an independent study? How large were customers because a very small company could have sold $500 last year and $1,000 this year which means they “doubled” their sales. Also, as an accountant I never rely on “sales” data from a CRM system because most CRM systems don’t have the internal controls that come with a proper accounting and financial system. So unless these numbers came directly from a customer’s general ledger I’m not sure I believe them.
The bottom line: it’s an unnecessarily misleading press release.
I say unnecessarily because Pipedrive doesn’t need to issue misleading press releases. I know this because my company has implemented Pipedrive and while it may lack certain functions of a more robust CRM system — specifically in the areas of marketing and services — it’s certainly an easy-to-use and powerful sales and forecasting application that, if setup correctly, can be a hugely beneficial tool for a sales team.
Press releases like these can play a more important role for a prospective customer. People used to focus on features and less on the vendor. But, thanks to the cloud, new CRM features are watched by all the vendors and quickly implemented. “Features” have become less of a decision-driver as they’ve become more commoditized. Pipedrive, for example, is as competitive as the next guy when it comes to offering the features needed by a sales team.
Features aside, I tell my clients to focus more on the software vendor. Who are they? What do their customers say? How strong is their community? How strong are their financials? Where is their customer base? How quickly do they respond to questions? What’s their reputation online? How active are their social channels? How committed are they to building more capabilities? Why does their CRM stand out above their competitors? Do they do user conferences and what are they like? Is the company ethical?
All of these questions tell me something about the company behind the CRM platform. They help me determine the company’s strength, credibility and long term commitment to its product. And considering the investment made by a customer, these factors are critical. No one wants to change a CRM system after going through the pain of implementing it.
Unfortunately, Pipedrive’s press release does not do this. It doesn’t mention any of the above things. Instead I see questionable statements based on dubious data and it makes me feel less confident in the company behind the software.
As a CRM implementer and a business owner, my advice to Pipedrive’s management — and anyone else running a software company — is to stick to the facts when making public statements. Tell us what new capabilities your product offers that would entice me to buy it or how your company is positioning itself (and therefore your customers) for future growth. Make me comfortable to make a long term investment in your product. Use relevant and independent data when doing surveys or studies. Give me news that impacts my business and persuades me to partner with you.