I recently posted a question on LinkedIn…

Are you getting value for money from your CRM solution?

I have spoken to several Execs over the past few weeks about their CRM systems. I heard differing views when I asked the question “Are you getting the ROI that you expected from your CRM system?”. The answers ranged from “Adoption has been difficult” to “I am not sure I trust the data” to “The repeatability brought to our Sales Process has shown significant improvements”.

I have decided to write a blog entry to further the discussion and would appreciate your thoughts about the value you get from your CRM system. What aspects of your implementation add value to your business? What would you change? What are your biggest pain points?

Sometimes when you ask a question on LinkedIn responses are quick, and numerous. For example, previously, I asked which is more demoralising, losing a sale to a competitor that you know can’t deliver or winning the deal to then have the project cancelled before you got started. Within a couple of days I had a large number of responses with varying views and a plethora of advice on how to avoid both issues.

My CRM question did solicit a few responses but not as many as I had hoped. Curiously, a number of the responses were sent directly to me, the authors preferring not to publicise their views. What conclusions can I draw from this?

My initial thought was that perhaps I could have worded the question differently. However, a more detailed review shows that, aside from one response from a friend that co-owns a CRM software company; most people didn’t want to publicly admit that their CRM system provides little real value to the company. Senior management tended to not believe the data because it rarely proved a good indicator of actual performance and sales execs tended to avoid using the CRM system as much as possible because it was cumbersome and was seen as simply a management reporting tool.

It is clear to me that the adoption issue can be resolved. We have turned around a number of companies that were failing in their use of Salesforce through the application of our LEAN and BPM experience. Our starting point is always “How can we engineer the process to reduce waste and add value?” For some customers this has meant integrating with external databases like OneSource for company background and financial data or LinkedIn to help make connections to the potential client. For others it has meant integrating with internal systems like their ERP and document management systems to provide a 360 degree view of the client. Either way, it has been the Sales Execs that have driven the requirements and have therefore bought-in to the concept. As a natural consequence of better adoption we have achieved cleaner more accurate data within the system. Management dashboards and reporting have necessarily been more accurate and more believable.

Perhaps I should have reworded my question and aimed it at the Sales Execs and Business Development Teams? Perhaps I should have asked two questions?

1) “What additional information would significantly improve the quality of a lead in your CRM system?
2) “How would you simplify your CRM system to improve usability?”

About Peter Borner

Peter is an entrepreneur and successful business leader. Currently leading a consultancy firm specialising in technical diligence for M&A and advising global firms on IT consolidation and migration to consumption based costing through the use of Cloud Technologies.



Yes maybe you could have reworded your question, but I don't think this is primarily responsible for the minimal response rate. LinkedIn is fast becoming a consultancy marketplace and people often don't respond for fear that a discussion might turn into a sales pitch. I find that the more I write in groups, discussions and so on, the more sales and recruitment people try to rein me in. What do you think about this?


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