(Or, How Sales Got Short-Changed by CRM)
I’m lucky enough to have been around when CRM technology was invented. The concept of Customer Relationship Management was born much earlier when people first started selling stuff to other people, creating customers in the process. In the early nineties, powerful list management tools became available to small and mid-market business driven by the proliferation of personal computers in the workplace. Contact Management applications came first, morphed into Sales Force Automation, and soon everything became CRM. I tell that story in this post.
Small to mid-sized business (SMB) were late adopters to CRM. Fortune, Enterprise, or whatever we call gargantuan business entities, blaze the trail with paradigm shifts, sea-changes, etc. They can do this because they have the incentive and the cash. But one thing surprises me (maybe two). The first is just how slowly small business is incorporating CRM as a mission critical technology in their processes. Daily, I am still made aware of companies who have not yet made the move to CRM. Most of them are “fudging” things using Excel and the like.
But, secondly, it seems that adoption rates are really not good at all. It’s a double-pain to suffer the expense and disruption of transformative technology if, at the end of the day, it doesn’t work. You only have to Google “CRM adoption” to see that there is a problem. A few years ago, a study showed that more than $1 billion had been spent on software that was not being used, and 43% of respondents admitted to using less than half the functionality of their existing system.