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Customer relationship management (CRM) software has long been criticized for helping management more than sales and marketing professionals. CRM, despite the name, is believed to be used mostly for sales or marketing reporting. It would appear that this criticism may not be far from the truth.
A recent survey of the Salesforce Power Users Group discovered that the majority of Salesforce.com Sales Cloud power users continue to use Sales Cloud to manage and report on sales and marketing processes rather than manage sales and marketing teams.
When asked how they or their organization use Salesforce.com Sales Cloud for sales, the most common response was for contact management (85%). This is not surprising since contact management is the most basic aspect of CRM systems. Contact management is essentially a record keeping function. Its primary use is to have an accurate record of a customer’s contact information such as address, phone number, and email address.
After contact management there were nearly an equal number of responses for sales reporting (79%), managing opportunities (77%), and managing the sales pipeline (77%). These are all process-oriented functions designed to report and manage sales workflows.
Lagging far behind were responses that indicated that Sales Cloud was used for territory management (24%) and performance management (47%). This indicates that even power users, a group that should have better-than-average knowledge of the uses of Sales Cloud, are not always using features that help measure the performance of regional sales managers and individual team members, or, if they are using these features, they are importing the data into another performance management tools like HCM solution. Evidently, respondents favor the use of Sales Cloud for sales reporting and processes over people-centric uses. It is important to note that an analysis which controlled for company size showed similar patterns across companies of different sizes and the greatest similarity between small companies (under 100 employees) and the largest companies (over 10000 employees).
When asked about how power users or their organizations used Sales Cloud for marketing, the responses presented a similar pattern.
Lead management (69%), managing marketing campaigns (57%), and email outreach (38%), typical marketing processes, had the largest number of response. In contrast, managing partners (28%), a people-oriented function, was in the bottom half of responses. In fact, managing partners only ranked slightly above using Sales Cloud to determine profitability of marketing activities which is a difficult and more likely performed using business intelligence and analytics platforms.
In a previous survey, Neuralytix discovered that Salesforce.com’s Chatter was used more for interactions between people and not so much for driving sales processes. This survey shows that Sales Cloud is used contrarily, driving processes more than managing people. Though the data suggests a reasonable division of labor – Chatter for people, Sales Cloud for processes – it also implies that key features of Sales Cloud and Chatter go underused.
Valuable features that go underused means a lower value realized from the investment in Salesforce.com products. Even if there are other ways to perform certain functions such as performance assessment or partner management, using the features of the CRM system to do so allows for a more coordinated approach. For example, with data on one platform, reporting and analysis of the data doesn’t create as severe data integration and management complications. Similarly, users only have to work with one application instead of several to perform important tasks such as managing a team or achieving sales goals. Using all the features of a CRM product such as Sales Cloud, instead of a subset of them, should yield higher productivity amongst end-users and reduce the need for expensive integration with other packages.
Salesforce.com Sale Cloud is no different, in this respect, than any other CRM platform. Many useful features go underutilized because of a lack of understanding of the features of the software and simple, old and intransigent habits. As CRM vendors continue to add more features in an attempt to provide value to customers, they should keep in mind that many of those features may go unused by even power users.
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 Sample size was 107 responses across a number of job functions and companies ranging from 1-9 employees to 10000+ employees.
 We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident, Matt Healey, Neuralytix, April 2015
 March 2015, Neuralytix survey of the Salesforce Power User Group
 Chatter for Collaboration but Not Sales, April 2015, Tom Petrocelli, Neuralytix