It’s been a few decades since the introduction of customer relationship management (CRM) systems in the enterprise and salespeople are still complaining about it. There’s always tension between salespeople and upper management over whom actually owns the relationship with the customer, so organizations naturally have a difficult time getting salespeople to enter relevant data about pending sales into a CRM system in a timely way.
But the way CRM applications are designed doesn’t seem to help matters, either. For the most part, they seem to be increasingly designed to serve the needs of senior managers rather than the sales staff. It’s obviously the senior managers who get the most benefit from having a CRM system. But if that system is difficult to use, it only serves to exacerbate the natural tension that exists between salespeople and the organizations they work for.
To address that specific issue, DoubleDutch today announced that next week at the Dreamforce 2012 conference hosted by Salesforce.com it will showcase a Hive CRM application for mobile devices that it claims is the first context-sensitive CRM application. Rather than replace an entire CRM system, DoubleDutch CEO Lawrence Coburn says Hive is designed to run primarily on mobile computing devices used by salespeople. It provides salespeople with contextual triggers based on the salesperson’s location, time and individual behavior, prompting them to record information on customers and deals. The idea is to present the salesperson with a reminder to access a streamlined user interface to update the CRM system while they are still in the moment of working on a particular deal.
Coburn says that as mobile computing becomes more popular in the enterprise, issues concerning the usability of CRM applications will become more apparent. The vast majority of CRM applications were not designed to be used on mobile computing devices. Salespeople by definition are mobile, so they are looking for CRM applications that were clearly designed with a “mobile first” mentality.
It’s hard to definitively say whether a context-aware approach to CRM based on mobile computing devices is going to get salespeople to overcome their reticence towards using CRM applications. But most current CRM applications provide plenty of excuses for them not to use the current system, so maybe the time has come to finally take that issue off the table once and for all.