My Year Long CRM Rollout Adventure

I am VP of Sales Operation at BigDataLy.  I convinced my company to buy BIGCRM and this is my year one experience!  I call it my House of Cards (yes, it is fiction.)

Week 1 of new CRM System

Finally inked the deal with BIGCRM.  Just spent another hour on the phone explaining to my BIGCRM Account Exec what BigDataLy’s business model is.   Given that they spent 6 months trying to sell me on how their CRM platform would *uniquely* fit my business, I am flabbergasted that my AE, Adam, doesn’t seem to understand what I need my CRM to do.  Had to do the same thing with their new Services guy.  How is it that they sell a CRM system, which they presumably use, and yet THEY didn’t have adequate notes in their system to allow the Services guy to get up to speed on my company?

At Adam’s request, I forward my email folder with all the emails from our “Big Deal” to him.  Wondering why he doesn’t have these ‘captured’ in his own CRM platform.  Wasn’t I his customer?  Why wasn’t he using his Customer Relationship Management software to manage our relationship?  Have a feeling this won’t be the last time I forward all of these email messages to BIGCRM.  Good luck digesting the 300 email messages & threads and converting them into something that your CRM platform can understand.

Week 2 of new CRM system

It just dawned on me that I’ll be one of only 2 people keeping track of all the communications between my team (our VPs) and our CRM team’s SME and legal counsel.  Right now, all those details are in my email inbox (where we keep everything important).  Cannot wait to get this into the CRM platform after we roll it out to our sales team!    Been poking around BIGCRM’s dashboard – looks like it has some great features.  What is clear to me is that this is all about getting and keeping good data.   A bit worried that if we get limited inputs, or, worse, garbage in, we’ll get garbage out.  I am very worried that we will have a huge trust issue…we won’t trust the data.  The reps won’t trust putting data into system.. If that happens, Sales won’t use the platform.  Then I’m screwed. Looking forward to training them; and creating some carrots & sticks to make adoption happen.    Adam said they have a lot of best practices on end user adoption.

Week 12 of new CRM system

We completed our sprint to train all levels of Sales on BIGCRM.   Looking at my dashboard to see what sort of activity is happening across my sales team.    I am officially a master of this CRM tool, but clearly my team isn’t sold.  Getting really spotty info from them. Why aren’t they tracking their sales calls?  Why aren’t they updating contacts?  I know we have some big deals in the pipeline because I hear about them at our weekly meetings.  You’d never know it by looking at our BIGCRM reports.   Very concerned that the reps have a lack of trust and are only putting a minimal amount of data into system.  Adam said that an Executive email could help rally the troops..

Week 24 of new CRM system

A big deal that was slated to close this quarter just imploded.  Did NOT see this coming and my EVP is looking for answers.  Why is there nothing in BIGCRM to give me any clues?  I have a meeting in 20 minutes and I cannot get a hold of my Regional Sales Director.  Wasn’t this the reason I got BIGCRM?

Week 25

And now, some more bad news.  Adam, AE at BIGCRM got transferred to another territory…and now I have to get a new AE, Ben, up to speed.  Given that every conversation I have had with my Adam seems to be an attempt to upsell me on more stuff, I cannot imagine that Ben will have any real sense of how well our integration is working.    I heard the Adam just did a “Forward all emails” – wait isn’t this supposed to be in BIGCRM already?  And weren’t those the emails that I sent to MY emails that I sent to BIGCRM six months ago?   How can I trust a CRM tool that its vendor doesn’t even use?

Week 40

I am wondering how I ever thought that I’d get my sales team to regularly and reliably use BIGCRM.  Sure, we are “adopters” according to BIGCRM because we’re paying for a zillion seats.  But my team are not USING the software. Buying a seat from BIGCRM is meaningless.  What matters is the number and type of people on a team who use the software  AND how frequently they update it.  I am the only VP using BIGCRM.  No one above me ever updates it – but they are the ones who are privy to the most strategic conversations.  And the guys below me, my team, use it only when I remind (or bribe) them.  Everything is STILL in our email inboxes.

Week 52

It’s been a year and I feel like I’m in the movie “Ground Hog’s Day”.  Got ANOTHER new AE, Carl,  who is even less informed about my business and less aware of his own platform than before.   Carl is less informed then Ben.  He doesn’t even bother to return my phone calls because he knows I don’t have budget for 3 months.  Somehow that fact got into my customer record.  But apparently, nothing else did.  Carl told me he was going to go through the “mass forward” of emails I sent out a year ago.  Still not in their own CRM system, I see.

Was considering sharing my dissatisfaction with my VP Contact at BIGCRM.  I know she has been there for at least 2 years.  But I doubt she ever entered any of our original email correspondence into BIGCRM herself.  If BIGCRM is anything like my company, VPs never have the time or interest in using CRM platforms.   Most VPs are like most parents …”Do as I say, not as I do”.

Week 60

Not feeling confident that I’m going to be able to defend my decision to spend $1M on BIGCRM at my review today.  The VP at BIGCRM sent out an email thanking everyone at my company for using their platform.   There may be 10 people on that email, but I’m going to be the only one under the microscope.  I inked the deal.

Over a year in, no one is using BIGCRM to its full capacity.   We all still rely on email to communicate with our clients and none of that gets converted into anything actionable in our CRM platform.  BIGCRM’s statistics on productivity increases were 100% smoke and mirrors.    How could it ever increase productivity if you have to cajole your team into using it (and frankly, they don’t see the value, even after a year)!  All the important stuff is still in email messages and, unless I am copied on it, I will never know what happened.

Oh, and here’s the kicker, I just got a voicemail from Carl, my third AE from BIGCRM.  They have a great deal on an Upgrade that I should really consider purchasing….


Full Disclosure: I advise several software companies including Boost Optix, SCORM, and Nangua Services that are considered sales productivity software applications. Sales Productivity has been part of my DNA since 1999 where I joined a start-up called Market-Touch (renamed Ventaso) and provided sales productivity best practices to companies such as American Express, FedEx, and Cisco. I’ve also led the Sales Productivity Teams for and LinkedIn. I have also had the chance to test or buy a plethora of sales tools including: Cirrus Insight, Implisit, InsightSquared, SalesforceIQ, SalesPredict, ToutApp, and Yesware.  These stories are about a journey of my experiences, hopefully with some humor, some random sports, film, and book references and of course, some useful and fun facts.