A few years back we’re of the belief that why the heck should someone start another CRM or sales tool. CRM is a crowded, 30-year-old competitive market where 100s of players including bigwigs like Salesforce, Microsoft, and SAPs are playing.
Why another sales tool? You might also be in the same line of thinking. The same thing was asked to us over and over by different people during the customer interviews we’ve been doing for the last 1.5 years.
So we were of no doubt, what should be the purpose of our first blog post. It is to explain to you why we jumped into this and what is in it for you and the future of sales.
Our Tussle/history with CRMs
We were going through struggle while running our first venture. We were profitable and revenue was from new sales each month. We were literally on the ground and It was important for us to keep the energy of the sales team up every day.
As spreadsheets and notes started to become less helpful in managing our sales process, we ended up with purchasing a CRM.
But the memory of the first CRM I learned, the free Open SugarCRM in 2011 was a ghost of the past. All those new jargons, Leads to Account conversion to Potential and also questions like when to convert a lead. It was a really struggling thing then. Felt how easy our sales process is and what is this all about. It took almost a year to learn all those.
The first CRM we bought was Zoho, after a year we switched to Insightly with great hope. All we wanted was to see how things are going and how the sales team is doing their job every day. Insightly too was just a wasted hookup in hope of a relationship. Our sales team never used it. When we force with determination, we had great resistance from our instinct itself that we are forcing them something that is not their pie. I strongly felt accurate data always push better productivity and used to be strong advocate of this kind of administrative tasks.
Problem is I get tired of pushing the team.
We switched to PipeDrive. Simple and Pipeline was easy. We were not using that for anything else. Just the pipeline. I had no answer to the question of why can’t you use a spreadsheet than paying 12USD.
In spite of all these, we were thriving. Making profits, bootstrapped and our own money, yet finding it difficult to scale the business due to external market challenges.
Our exposure to medium and large enterprises with our product helped us taking a walk through of their sales organizations and challenges. Many of them were using Salesforce and custom made CRMs and we found none of them are happy. Having not satisfied with current tools are common. But the dissatisfaction index on CRMs were something exceptional.
The first failed attempt - A salesforce Plugin
As telephony was our core domain and our sales were primarily happening through phone and salespeople in different cities. We wanted to track all the calls they were making and used to take reports. This report helped us much more than the regular CRM reports in tracking the sales performance.
While discussing this with one our customer who was using Salesforce, she wanted us to develop a plugin for them. This is the first time we were thinking about developing a product in the sales domain. We started to pursue this as free-time product research. Talked to a few more customers, and sold the idea to three of them signing $10K recurring revenue deals in total.
We developed the plugin which will track sales calls of each user and save the call log with recording in the CRM. But during the implementation phase, we were successful in only one company and failed in the other two.
One of the reasons we failed here was a big revelation for us.
The mistake even the great Salesforce did & all the followers copied
We failed to install the plugin not because it didn’t work. But the way our customers were using CRM. They just had 2 user licenses for 30 salespeople. One for the admin and one for all others. But they were using “SFDC” proudly, just because others were also doing so.
We understood there is some fundamental mistake in the way CRMs are designed, priced and how people are using it.
Since we were trying to figure out a global opportunity and we decided to interview sales managers across the world. Just to get the confidence of what we believe is actually existing out there in the global scene. Between December and March, we spoke to 602 Salespeople, 49 Sales Managers and 32 Co-founders across the world. We invited them for video call, Survey support and quick text chats.
What we realized was something horrible.
It is designed for the buyer (managers who need reports) and not for the actual end user (the salesperson)
Right from the Siebel CRM days during the early 90s, it is designed not for the user. Sales people were taken for granted and they were made as data entry workers.
Even the most respected Salesforce who introduced cloud computing and simplified the CRM designed it not from the user perspective. Obviously, all the followers copied it.
Why Salespeople hate CRM. Looking it at from the sales guy’s shoes.
During our interaction, we assessed each sales person’s daily life starting from home to back home. How they plan their day and when they do so (68% of the salespeople we interviewed plan their day while driving to the office), how they get sales data, what they feel when there is no incentive in a quarter, and their colleague gets appreciated.
How they perform CRM data entry (many organizations attached CRM data entry to their incentive and attendance to our shock. “If I don’t see it in CRM, consider it is not done” !!)
The entire CRM industry still writes 100s of blogs to establish CRM as a sales tool which will help salespeople to close more deals. The fact that there are call centers in India which will enter data for the salesperson after her each call, explains the situation well.
The output of Salesperson daily behavior was later on put on a graph with respect to the impact to their sales output a.k.a “revenue”
Why CRMs fail to satisfy small and medium teams?
It is common to have disconnect when one chooses a product for someone else. But in CRM, apart from the buyer - user difference, there was a stunning disconnect in design vs user which was surprisingly new to us.
How can a product be this much disconnected from its users?
One of the core focus of our interview was how much “salespeople” who are in the ground like the CRM as a sales enablement tool. Weeks before our interview process, I had read a book
“About Face: Essentials of interaction design”. In the book, the author starts the early chapters by mentioning the poor design thinking of software products and how users become the slaves of operating the software itself. There is no doubt, present-day CRMs are a classic example of this great blunter.
The amazing opportunity that we found
Management wants data, productivity and revenue, while CRMs act as a provider of sales data for management. Many enterprises rely on day to day meeting to get hold of sales activities than unreliable data on their CRMs due to very poor end-user engagement (salesperson).
Salesperson loves his work, meeting/talking to new people, meeting customers, closure, reward, incentive, the satisfaction of output, using his creativity to influence customers. But none of this is attached to what CRMs offer today. Instead, they make him a data entry guy, which he hates to the core.
We saw this as a great opportunity. A stunning opportunity that has the ability to drive us even for decades.
The emergence of intuitive design thought process and artificial intelligence paved the path for growing this seed within us. We even got the courage to talk to our early communities about taking on Salesforce Einstein one day. We realized we may have to go through step by step to solve this and we have to keep our own versions as our competitors.
The size of the problem and people who are trying to (every city in the United States has one CRM player) solve the same problem unsuccessfully inspired us to reach out and create our early adopter community who is helping us to build a great software for sales.