For a couple of decades now, business technology pundits have told us we needed a CRM application. IT staff have convinced executives that their companies couldn’t live without one. CRM developers have asserted theirs is the best, with a broad variety of supporting arguments. Yet at the same time, sales forces have continued to complain that CRM, for them, is an overbearing administrative burden. This all leads to a particularly pertinent question: What is a CRM application actually for?
Consulting firm Sweeney Group defines CRM as:
“All the tools, technologies and procedures to manage, improve, or facilitate sales, support and related interactions with customers, prospects, and business partners throughout the enterprise.”
One leading CRM developer states that a CRM system “allows businesses to manage business relationships and the data and information associated with them. You can store customer and prospect contact information, accounts, leads and sales opportunities in one central location.”
This all seems pretty straight ahead: stated simply, a CRM application exists for the purpose of fully managing customer relationships. Why, then, do sales reps continue to balk at them? The sales force is at the very forefront of customer relationships; it is sales reps who make that initial contact and are responsible for positively and profitably maintaining a relationship with a prospect or customer. If a salesperson isn’t able to easily utilize CRM for customer relationships, something is awfully wrong.
It seems, then, that a CRM application’s purpose should be refocused as “a technological toolset that fully empowers the sales force to sell.” It would follow that if the sales rep were so empowered, the remainder of a CRM application’s stakeholders (sales management, tech support, marketing, customer service, financial executives) would be empowered as well.
Philosophy Behind CRM Application
Shifting the purpose of CRM from “customer relationship management coordination throughout the whole company” to “fully empowering the sales force” is in fact a shift in CRM philosophy. This philosophical shift has its roots in a school of economic thought known as the Austrian School of Economics, in which proactive individual and human action are the focus. The Austrian School places the entrepreneur front and center in its economic models—demonstrating the power an individual can have on causatively changing an economy.
Entrepreneurs of course establish and run businesses, which affects a whole area or nation. But if you take a business as its own economic model, you will see that it has its own “entrepreneurs within the enterprise.” These are its salespeople.
When entrepreneurs are fully and freely empowered to innovate on a national level, the result is usually an economic boom. A fine example is the United States in its first 150 years of existence. Through stellar entrepreneurship, it went from a struggling collection of 13 farm colonies to the strongest industrial power in the world, in an incredibly short period of time.
What can happen to a company when its internal entrepreneurs—the salespeople—are empowered in a similar fashion? What can happen when a CRM solution, instead of being used simply to monitor sales reps and mire them down in data-entry duties, fully enables them to freely perform their functions?
It is clear that the purpose of today’s leading-edge CRM application is to fully empower sales reps to sell. Now that we’ve refocused its mission, in this series of blog posts we will demonstrate how this philosophical shift is coming about in the real world.
What does a CRM solution that fully empowers sales reps look like? Find out here.