Clean CRM Data Starts With A Great Mobile Experience

Editor’s note: Andy Byrne is founder and CEO of Clari, a mobile-first sales productivity platform. Prior to Clari, Andy was part of the founding teams at Clearwell Systems and Timestock, Inc.

There is no doubt that Salesforce is one of the most widely used customer relationship management systems. However, the shift to BYOD is changing the game for sales and marketing, and we need an immediate infusion of technology in CRM.

Data science is certainly a key piece of the puzzle. With Salesforce’s recent acquisition of RelateIQ, it is evident that the industry is looking to data science to fuel a new and improved way of analyzing information and making it useful. But while data science is vital to the future success of CRM and sales productivity, a CRM revolution will take more than that. Your analysis is only as good as the data that goes into your system. And to ensure that sales reps input quality data, they need a platform that marries a powerful back end with an experience they love.

Executives know that bringing the convenience and productivity of mobile to CRM and Salesforce is the next frontier for sales productivity. A 2013 survey by The Economist found that 33 percent of global executives plan to invest heavily in internal mobile apps over the next three years. Yet we have a long way to go. Only 15 percent of these executives have actually invested at this point.

More than any other enterprise worker, sales professionals are blazing the mobile trail. So why doesn’t every sales team look to mobile to deliver breakthrough productivity and effectiveness? Many other industries have adapted; in the world of mobile payments, the painstaking process of entering billing information has been replaced, in some cases, with a single touch. And those looking to catch a ride on Uber or Lyft need only one click. But enterprise solution providers have been slow to deliver such simple and natural user experiences. And this is a big pain point for CRM.

CRM data entry can be a time-consuming, laborious process. Most sales reps sacrifice a full day every week just updating their CRM. Reps are starved for a mobile solution that allows them to easily enter data on the go. And more so, one that actually helps close deals and make them money. While there are some options out there now, most enterprise apps are far less user-friendly than their consumer counterparts, preventing adoption and perpetuating the problem of lag-behind, inconsistent data entry.

On top of that, companies are rapidly adopting cloud-based CRM and business intelligence technologies to fuel selling decisions, but those decisions are only as good as the underlying data. Fixing the process of data entry is a good start.

But putting mobile to work to fix data entry is only the first step. Actionable sales data is located across many silos: CRM, calendars, and email are only the start. Successful reps use LinkedIn to identify decision-makers; tools like Evernote for notes; Box, Dropbox, Sharepoint and other online storage systems for reference material; and many others. A typical rep uses a dozen apps to manage the pipeline. They use these tools to be more productive, but they know the lack of integration means a time-consuming dance as they sort through each app individually.

These silos contain interrelated information most useful when analyzed as a whole — opening the door for innovative data science to help reps and managers focus on the most effective next steps for the most promising deals. An effective sales productivity platform needs to tie data silos together, reorganizing the content around deals and relationships to give sales reps and managers a complete picture of their opportunities.

CRM systems are not going away. They provide the data infrastructure and tools they need for reporting and forecasting. But work needs to be done to derive value from these investments. Data science is definitely part of the equation, but without a mobile-first approach and an eye toward productivity, the “science” isn’t going to do much for you.