Part 1 here
2) Having a minimal impact on your workflow
Not only do these CRM systems not have a minimal impact on your workflow, they totally and utterly recreate it and force you to completely change your workflow. Before ever using a CRM system I was creatively using an excel spreadsheet that I modified as I saw fit according to my emerging sales workflow. This spreadsheet, though eventually not powerful enough, was designed to support the workflow that naturally evolved in order to best turn prospects into customers. Even at its max capacity it felt like i was only missing a few pieces of functionality to make this a usable solution.
Enter the modern CRM system. In my previous post about the complexity of knowing where to put data as well as where to retrieve data, I spoke about how the “trust" of the system was impacted negatively. The same factors that go into not trusting a system play into heavily impacting your workflow by dramatically increasing the time it takes to get data in and out of a system. Just the time spent over deciding where to place your data within the system is enough to help forget exactly what data you wanted to store.
Beyond the trust issue and where to store your data there are the logistics of actually putting your data into the system. Web based CRMs such as SugarCRM, Salesforce, and Vtiger (lets get the opensource crowd just for good measure) take entirely too many clicks to input data. It takes a few clicks to get from an opportunity to important notes or cases (tech support issues) stored in the account, much less to get to an activity that is within that same “opportunity. More time is lost on logistics and less time is spent taking good notes. If you just got two important phone calls back to back, and had to log two notes in separate opportunities or accounts, the problem becomes significantly compounded and the quality of your data suffers.
Now, some of these applications are starting to take steps towards a desktop type of feel. Ajax and the whole Web2.0 scene could really have an impact on the user experience here, but it's a long way off. Not only is the experience going to have to require less clicks, but the layout of these applications is going to have to reflect the workflow of each sales person or sales unit in a much more efficient manner. When I'm making a call, I want to see that persons phone number at a glance and I need to be able to get to other data about that person with the click of a mouse.
My job is to be nimble on the phone, to adapt to each potential client and effectively side step every potential objection they come up with. I want my sales process back, and I don't want to feel like I'm looking at raw mysql tables to get it.
(I am rounding up my list of workflow tips and suggested improvements, but first I had to get all this venting out)