The Distribution Blog

Why Sales Reps Don’t Value Traditional CRM Solutions

June 11, 2021

Table of Contents

Ninety-one percent of data in CRM systems is incomplete due to duplication and outdated data, according to an analysis by Dun & Bradstreet.

Pitney-Bowes found that 77% of companies believe they lost sales because of inaccurate or incomplete contact data.

It’s clear that data quality is critical to sales success. Bad data can be attributed in large part to manual data entry in a CRM. If a sales rep doesn’t believe it’s worth their time to enter or update data (and most don’t), they won’t do it consistently.

When the CRM doesn’t help a sales rep, its value for the rep and the distributor quickly erodes. The result of incomplete or outdated data: a damaged customer experience, as prospects are hit with irrelevant offers and inconsistent touches.

It’s no wonder then that CRM systems are notorious for not delivering the return distributors expect. CRM is most often used for tracking notes, contacts and tasks — a glorified Rolodex for sales reps. But its value rarely goes beyond that for distributors. A big part of the problem is that traditional solutions aren’t set up for the distribution sales model — high-volume repeat sales, high SKU counts and many ways for customers to conduct business with distributors.

Instead, they were built for SaaS software companies or service businesses.

Consider a typical software rep. They manage 100 customers a year, each buying one product — or 100 opportunities. But a distribution rep manages 200 customers, and each customer buys 40 items 5 times per year. That’s 40,000 opportunities.

It would be like if school buses were Toyota Priuses and we all sat back and wondered why 100 kids hated being shoved into a space meant for four. It’s true that distributors still need some overlapping capabilities, such as wheels, but a car and bus fall into different categories. Let’s stop forcing sales reps into traditional CRM solutions. Instead, let’s give them CRM designed for their needs.

AI is poised to transform CRM for distributors as we know it today. The right AI-enabled solution can help your team meet customer needs, streamline sales processes, give managers visibility into the sales pipeline, and ultimately increase conversions and sell more to existing customers by:

  • Putting all customer interactions in one place, no matter where they happened. With buying and shopping data from inside sales, outside sales, e-commerce, customer service, marketing and counter sales, an AI-powered CRM can provide your team visibility into a customer’s entire history with the distributor. AI can then point reps to sales opportunities that most warrant their attention. This includes predictions about what customers will buy, and when and where they will buy it.
  • Integrating document and product search. An AI-powered semantic search of PDF sell sheets, documents, product description and attribute data within a CRM will get the sales rep an answer in a fraction of the time it would take to pick up the phone to call a manufacturer rep and wait for the response.

More than 40% of sales reps in one survey said they didn’t feel like they had enough information to do their jobs well. That’s a problem. An AI-enabled CRM will get them what they need to help customers find the products they are looking for in a pile of messy data. That’s a CRM that adds value and will be used by sales reps.

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