Alan Timothy of i-Snapshot posted a comment to "Is CRM a Failure" that addresses one of the key issues that must be addressed by any company thinking about instituting any technology: can it meet the needs of all of the departments and users who will be using it or they would like to use it?
Will a single system work for customer service, marketing, sales, and maybe even payroll, accounting, shipping and scheduling? It would have to be a system that integrated the specific needs of all of these departments and could track customers, marketing metrics, sales metrics, commissions and payroll, manufacturing and shipping needs and schedules, and more.
As Alan points out in his commentary on the post, asking a system to perform all of those activities isn't realistic. Yet, in many instances, companies are asking their systems to perform a good many of these activities. Usually, the result is dissatisfaction with the system because it can't do what it wasn't designed to do.
The concept of a sales department specific system is still relatively new. The how, why and what of the system is still a question that most companies have either not addressed or have not fully answered. Moreover, product developers have addressed the question in many different ways with different focuses and objectives. And, naturally, there are still a good number of companies trying to shoehorn every department and every need into a single system, hoping to save money by doing so.
Over the coming days, weeks and months, hopefully we can address the issue not only from a perspective of whether or not a single system can handle the needs of the sales department, but is the investment in sales tracking and metrics worth it? What real value can companies realize from instituting a sales specific system? What impact-good, bad, indifferent-would the system have on the salespeople, the management staff, and the company?
These are not easy questions to answer, and certainly, there isn't a single answer. But the answers are vital not just to the company but to the salespeople and managers whose lives and careers will be fundamentally affected by how their company answers these questions.
For us in sales and sales management, these aren't academic questions. Sales technology is going to have a tremendous impact on what we do, how we do it, and even whether or not we are successful at doing it. For many at this point, the issues may seem distant or even non-existent. For others, it evokes images of George Orwell and Big Brother. Others may see it as much ado about nothing, lots of noise about something that is more a toy than something that will have serious implications for them personally.
There isn't a single universal system that will answer all of the needs of every department. Trying to force systems to perform functions outside its intended scope is ultimately self-defeating for the company. Now, what does the sales department do about it and how will their decisions impact you?
The Management Curve is a blog dedicated to discussion and debate about the impact sales metrics programs such as CRM, Sales Performance Management and Sales Force Automation Programs are having and will have on how the sales function is managed. Hosted by Paul McCord, the blog also features articles and commentary by other sales trainers, consultants, product developers, and the sales managers and salespeople who actually use the products.