[New Research] It’s Official — Lots of Salespeople Hate Their CRM

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Lou Orfanos
Lou Orfanos


Consumers today expect a seamless experience across every stage of the buyer’s journey.

salesperson frustrated with their CRM

From the moment a person subscribes to a company’s newsletter to their first conversation with a salesperson to the final product demo before making a purchase decision, they want every interaction to be personal and contextual.

These heightened expectations, coupled with the fact that most sales teams across the globe are now selling remotely, make it more important than ever for businesses to have a powerful, easy-to-use CRM in place.

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Much of a sales team’s ability to deliver a seamless buying experience depends on the accuracy of the data in its system, the reliability of the reporting tools at its disposal, and the usability of the automation and prospecting features it works with every day.

To learn more about the relationship between salespeople and their all-important CRM, we surveyed over 500 sales leaders from the U.S., Canada, the U.K, and Australia. We asked them about the user-friendliness of the sales software, the state of their alignment with their marketing colleagues, and how their time is typically allocated on an average day in a busy sales team.

What we found is that sales leaders and CRMs don’t get along. At all.

In fact, a large proportion of respondents appear to hate their sales software, seeing it as difficult to use, grossly underutilized by their teams, and incapable of helping their company meet its goals over the coming years.

Let’s take a closer look.

Sales Leaders Don’t Have Enough Time to Coach Their Team

Our research found that sales leaders spend a large portion of every day doing administrative tasks, leaving them with a surprisingly small amount of time to coach their team — which is what they expected to spend the majority of their time doing when they first started in their role.

Here’s what the data says:

  • On average, sales leaders spend only 22% of their time managing and coaching team members. They spend 28% of their time on administrative tasks, 15% of their time reporting, 13% of their time asking their team to enter or clean up data, and 13% of their time optimizing their sales software. (The remaining 9% is spent on other tasks.)
  • The three tasks sales leaders spend most of their time on are:
    • Reporting on pipeline and performance to executives
    • Preparing content to motivate and guide their team
    • Recruiting and interviewing potential new team members
  • The three tasks sales leaders expected to spend their time on when they started in their role are:
    • Coaching and giving feedback to their team
    • Helping their team to work through deal roadblocks
    • Preparing content to motivate and guide their team

Many sales leaders are not getting to do the tasks they signed up for. Instead of offering actionable advice to their team members and helping them to get deals over the line, they’re wrestling with reporting tools and conducting administrative tasks that, in 2020, should be automated.

Much of this misalignment between the expectations and reality of a sales leader’s role is rooted in their software, which as we’re about to see, is often woefully difficult to use.

Most CRMs Are Painfully Difficult to Use

If there is one takeaway from our research it’s this: the CRMs that dominate today’s market are not user-friendly. In fact, they’re so difficult to use, most salespeople only use a fraction of their functionality.

Let’s take a look at the numbers:

  • 97% of sales leaders believe it’s important or very important for business software to be easy to use.
  • 50% of sales leaders say that their CRM is difficult to use, and 18% say this has caused them to lose opportunities or revenue.
  • 76% of sales leaders report that their team doesn’t use the majority of the tools in their CRM.
  • 47% of sales leaders don’t believe their sales software is capable of helping them meet their business goals over the next three years.
  • When asked to rate the user-friendliness of the consumer products they use every day, where '1' is "very easy to use" and 10 is "very difficult to use," 40% of sales leaders gave a rating of 1 or 2. However, when asked to rate the user-friendliness of the business products they use on the same scale, only 15% gave a rating of 1 or 2.
How user-friendly sales tools are for sales leaders


How user-friendly consumer products used by sales leaders are

When it comes to ease of use, sales software is decades behind the consumer products that sales leaders use every day. It doesn’t have to be this way. Tools like Slack, Shopify, and Zoom have shown that it’s possible to have enterprise-grade power and consumer-grade ease of use in business products. They aren’t mutually exclusive, but legacy CRM providers seem to think they are.

Worryingly, this lack of user-friendliness doesn’t just cost salespeople time — it costs them and their companies money, with nearly one in five sales leaders reporting that they’ve lost opportunities or revenue as a consequence of their software being difficult to use. It also prevents sales teams from taking full advantage of the tools at their disposal, with an eye-catching 76% of sales leaders saying their teams don’t use their CRM to its potential.

Sales teams cannot afford to leave so much power untapped, particularly at a time when consumers are demanding an improved buying experience, as our next set of findings indicate.

Buyer Expectations Are Increasing, but Sales and Marketing Alignment Remains Out of Reach

According to our research, sales leaders are witnessing a surge in buyer expectations. However, most are not confident in their CRM’s ability to help them meet these expectations, while many believe their company lacks one of the most critical ingredients needed to deliver a seamless customer experience — sales and marketing alignment.

Here’s what we found:

  • 75% of sales leaders say that customers and prospects have higher expectations than they did in the past.
expectations of customers and prospects
  • Only 34% of sales leaders are very confident that their CRM is capable of helping them to deliver the type of experience customers expect.
  • 95% of sales leaders state that sales and marketing alignment is important or very important to delivering a great customer experience.
  • Only 30% of sales leaders say they are very closely aligned with their marketing teams.
sales leader alignment with marketing team

Sales leaders know the importance of having close alignment with their marketing colleagues, and yet, few experience it in their roles. The key to successful sales and marketing alignment is not additional meetings or more elaborate service level agreements, it’s a centralized source of truth on customer data stored in a user-friendly CRM.

Without a system that gives customer-facing teams easy access to up-to-date customer information, the task of delivering a seamless experience across multiple touch points becomes almost impossible.

What a Sales CRM Should Look Like

Spare a thought for sales leaders. According to our research, most of them are reliant on counter-intuitive sales software that fills their days with administrative tasks, is only partially adopted by their teams, and is incapable of providing the level of sales and marketing alignment needed to meet buyer expectations.

They deserve better. Sales software should be powerful and also easy to buy, easy to learn, easy to use. It should allow sales leaders to spend less time wrestling with their systems and more time working with their teams. And it should enable sales and marketing alignment by providing a centralized view of the customer data.

No salesperson should hate their CRM. If it’s built with consumer ease of use and enterprise power that makes them more effective in their role, they should love it.

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