The truth why most sales reps dislikes CRMs.


…and why Customer Relationship Management (CRM) projects fail miserably, sometimes even without anyone ever noticing

We have interviewed thousands of sales reps. and other CRM software users from all continents of the world to find out why so few like their CRM software.

We wanted to see if there was a global common issue or perhaps if cultural difference had an impact. The answer to our questions was simple, sales reps. everywhere have difficulties with their CRM for the exact same reason.

The background to this answer is crucial to the understanding of why so many CRM projects fail. And the real truth to why they never stood the slightest chance of succeeding in the first place…

To really get to the core of the problem we had to research sales reps. from a behavioral perspective, to see:

  • Why they behave in certain ways
  • How their behavior has led them into working with sales. and,
  • If their behavior had any affect on how they relate to the traditional concept of CRM.

The answer to the last research question was a distinctive ”YES”. This tilts the door to the probably most important finding in CRM research ever. And it basically tells us that CRMs were meant to fail from the beginning.

Now, it is one thing to ask the sales reps. the ever so trite question ”Do you like your CRM”. Of course we had to ask this question and by the way, most sales reps. said ”NO”.

The answer to this question however, tells us very little about the real truth as to why sales reps. don’t like their CRM. Even flat out asking them why they don’t like their CRM won’t give us the actual cause.

Because the honest truth lays hidden deep down in the roots of – surprisingly enough – pretty basic psychology. It’s just that CRM usage has never been thoroughly researched from this perspective.

And before we get nitty gritty here let’s just agree that all of this is absolutely necessary to understand if, you want to see how your information project can survive the apocalypse of traditional CRM.

In order to find the real truth we had to dig deeper than no one has ever gone before, just to identify the underlaying reasons to CRM failure. The reasons found are such most sales reps. CRM consultants or anyone else involved in the CRM project, are not even aware of.

And don’t get scared, well keep it simple and as granular as possible. Here we go. To come to a relevant conclusion we needed to study how CRM-users behave in real life.

Define their strong sides and their weak sides. Find out what they enjoy, what they desire, what they want to avoid and what they despise.


Anyone (everyone!) who have ever met a sales rep. know that sales reps. often like to talk, socialize, influence and affect other people. Doing just this puts them in their zone, where they get to utilize their natural talents.

This is also why companies hire sales rep. Companies need individuals who like to influence and have a natural tendency for great business. These behaviors are very human interaction-oriented.

To sell something to someone, you need to address the other individual’s feelings. In short, you need to influence their decision-making. However, like all coins have two sides, this does as well.

You need to calculate for the good and for the bad. Because making a sale comes with other requirements than just influencing. Strong behavior for sales reps. in general they:

  • Like and know how to influence others
  • Like and know how to affect others
  • Like and know how to socialize


The strong sides of the general sales rep. are clear, however, no one is perfect… Doing business is not all about influencing and affecting others. It is also important to stay focused on what is important and what brings you forward in the process.

This requires work to be performed in an at least somewhat structured manner. Which in itself required at least some level of administrative work. These things are however the weak sides of the general sales rep.

Anyone who have worked together with a sales rep know that the structure and administration is usually quite poor. Weak behavior of sales reps. in general:

  • They don’t like administration
  • They are poor at structure
  • They have a hard time staying focused


Sales reps. usually desire to spend their time on interacting with other people and influencing them, not so much doing administrative work. Neither do they prefer working in a stick and structured way and also have a hard time staying focused.

Can we agree to that general conclusion? On top of this, companies provide these individuals with highly structured tools to keep track of what sales reps. are doing. Tools that are designed by and for strike and structured individuals.

Back to the main issue: The common CRM user do not like the system and believes it is a ’control tool’ from management to keep track of what they are and are not doing.

Sales reps. believe these tools are just a time consuming and unnecessary burden that do not empower them and give any personal value back at all.



When you look at the CRM-issue from this perspective it becomes pretty clear. To make the average user actually like, enjoy and use a system regularly, you need a tool that appeals to the sales reps. strong sides, helps to them empower and truly assist them in their weaker sides.

A tool that completes and strengthens them. The companies who realize this will see a changed attitude, however, the companies that ignore these facts, will continue to (most often unsuccessfully) fight and struggle internally to get the users to use the CRM.

Some companies have even taken it so far that they base one part of sales reps’ commission on how well the CRM is being used, that’s just plain wrong. You should get commission for closing business, not for doing administrative work, right?