Free Demo

13 reasons your salespeople HATE your CRM system

Avoid making your salespeople a CRM puppet and empower them to sell more.


  1. Prelude Bad examples of CRM.
  2. Chapter 1: Management Above all, a practice where art, science and craft meet.
  3. Chapter 2: Daily usage We all know that time is money.
  4. Chapter 3: Mind-set So what’s in it for me?
  5. Conclusion A little less hate can go a long way.

Customer Relationship Management software, or CRM for short, is the beating heart for most businesses. Gartner predicts that a staggering $36.5bn will be spent on it by 2017. What’s more, CRM adoption is growing faster than any other enterprise software category with a 9.7% increase year-over-year.

So, with headline figures like this, it begs the question: why do your salespeople HATE your CRM system?

There’s no roundabout answer as every salesperson will have their own reasons, but in this guide, I’ll cover the most common causes that I have come across and how to solve them.


Bad examples of CRM.

Before we get into the nitty gritty of why salespeople hate CRM, I thought it would be fitting to share a couple of awful CRM experiences that strip away value.

Bad CRM example 1: The impersonal approach

As I’ve mentioned in the introduction, CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, with ‘Relationship’ being the key word. The whole idea of a CRM system is to build stronger dialog with your customers and contact them at the right time, for all the right reasons.

By being impersonal, you’re stripping your customers of their individuality and losing your personality as a business (yes, businesses have personalities too). Nobody wants to do business with a faceless company!

Most CRM systems will allow you to send an email to your customer or prospect and if they’re a contact in your CRM, then you really should have their first name. The email below is a ‘personal invitation’ from Puma. It’s quite surprising that a personal email doesn’t include a name and the copy is generic. The fact that it states that the first 100 people will get a gift bag suggests that it’s a blanket email just sent to all contacts in their CRM – yet this is a personal invitation to visit an event at their store.

Bad CRM Puma

This isn’t a ‘one-off’ as I receive similar bulk emails on a daily basis, but to make me engage and want to do business with you it has to make me feel like I’m not just one of many but, instead, unique.

Bad CRM example 2: The automated approach

Don’t get me wrong, I think automating processes is great; it saves time and can minimize human error. My gripe is that some companies overuse automation or set it up so wrong that it confuses their customers.

For instance, I once (stupidly) asked for a quote from a leading car buying service to take my Hyundai Coupe off my hands. I filled in my details online and requested a ‘callback’. However, there was no call, just an email that gave the quote.

That’s fine, I got what I wanted (even if it was a ridiculously under-priced offer).

I didn’t feel the quote was right for me so decided to sell the car privately. I did, however, fully expect someone to follow up with a phone call after a day or two. This never happened. Instead I was bombarded with automated emails, where there was no chance to negotiate and most were irrelevant to my situation.

Now, nearly two years on I still receive emails about how I could sell my Hyundai Coupe to them. Surely a service like theirs must realize that someone will most likely sell their car within two years and that circumstances will now have changed?

It’s safe to say that I now feel that enquiring was definitely not worth the hassle.

Chapter 1: Management

Above all, a practice where art, science and craft meet.

Managing your CRM system correctly is as important (if not more important) as your employees using it. Getting the right system for your business is imperative for success, as is in-depth training for users. Management, IT, marketing, customer support and the sales team all need to be on the same page to ensure a successful, profitable CRM implementation.

1.   “Isn’t it just the ‘Big Brother’ effect?”

I’ve overheard salespeople on multiple occasions say that CRM was only implemented so that their manager could keep a track of their performance and activity. Sales is already one of the most measured departments within a business, so many feel as though they’re being victimized.

What can you do?

CRM is a great way to track targets, but managers need to communicate to their team that it’s there to help them sell and not to micro-manage them. Don’t run reports on their behalf; ask them to do it themselves so that they feel like the emphasis is placed upon them instead.

2.   “I already know my leads from my spreadsheet”

Far too many salespeople still rely on spreadsheets to manage their calls and meetings. In essence, their spreadsheet is their CRM system. Spreadsheets can destroy your business (I’ve even written an article about this before). Why? Because they’re unreliable, time consuming and difficult to understand.

What can you do?

Shifting a salesperson’s behavior from using spreadsheets to using CRM is a daunting task.

You need them to change, otherwise you’ll silo your business’ data, meaning marketing and other departments can’t benefit from it. What’s more, if the worst comes to the worst and a salesperson were to leave your company, they could easily take a spreadsheet with them, meaning all of that data is lost to you. But as long as they store it in a CRM system, it’s yours to keep.

You therefore need to enforce change on them, but in a way that involves them. You could ask your top seller to trial a ‘CRM only’ approach and monitor their performance.

After a successful trial they can share their experience with the rest of the team to increase adoption rates. This approach will make it feel as though management aren’t enforcing CRM on them.



Try running an internal session and ask your salespeople to write down what their main constraints are regarding data issues. Then show them exactly how consolidated data in one system can help overcome their challenges.

3.   “It’s full of bad data”

At every company I’ve worked for, I’ve had the charming and desirable task of having to clean data in the CRM system in one form or another. Bad data is the silent killer of a CRM system. It’s like woodworm, slowly eating away at the integrity of the system.

This is what happens when multiple people with varying skills and approaches perform data entry; the data is inconsistent, there are shortcuts to speed up the process and contacts are added from multiple sources.

Did you know: According to Sirius Decisions, 25% of B2B databases contain critical errors and each bad contact could cost as much as $100 per record.

Source: HubSpot

A staggering 88% of CRM users reported that they haven’t entered complete contact information in the system.

What can you do?

Bad data equals bad decisions, so you need to fix this one quickly. Write up housekeeping rules and add them to your salespeople’s KPIs. Make certain fields mandatory like first name, email address, company and phone number to ensure you always capture this information, and have it formatted correctly too, with names starting with capital letters and so on. This way, if your marketing team automate anything in the future, their campaigns will have a much better chance of succeeding.

4.   “I’ve never been trained on CRM”

My guess is that most of your salespeople are motivated by commissions. Am I right?

This is no bad thing, but it means their focus won’t be on CRM. Couple this with a lack of training and a salesperson will see no value in using CRM, even though it’s proven to aid their selling efforts.

Per sales person, a CRM can increase revenue by a whopping 41%!!!
–  Source: :

What can you do?

In order to see hands-on value, your sales team will need to be fully trained. Take time out of their day to run a training session that involves no mobile phones, laptops or interruptions so you get 100% concentration. After all, training is a lot cheaper than sun setting your entire CRM project.


Everyone learns at different speeds and through different stimuli. Create ‘how to’ videos, cheat sheets, one-on-one sessions or group discussions. Find a method that works for you.

5.   Implement poorly, expect poor results

Generally, the decision makers aren’t the users or implementers. Far too many CRM systems are set up without fully understanding the impact on each department. For instance, can IT successfully access, update and maintain the system? Can marketing pull out the data they need? Is it Cloud-based or On-premise? Get it wrong and your users will become frustrated and eventually stop using your CRM.

sales manager ebook


"63% of CRM initiatives fail."

What can you do?

Don’t rush the implementation! A CRM system can be costly in terms of time and money so you need to get it right. Ask each department to share their processes and needs and then implement CRM in phases so that you can get one process right before moving onto the next.


Ask each department to rate their requests in terms of importance. For instance, role permissions may be rated highly, whereas exporting data may be lower. Once you have these scores you can easily identify what needs to be implemented in each phase.


Do you enforce your decision making on the rest of the business?


Do you have a lot of independent IT systems making adoption complex?


Do you continually assess the effectiveness of your CRM system?


Do you have an easily accessible CRM trainer or champion?

Chapter 2: Daily usage

We all know that time is money.

There is no typical salesperson. Some are quiet listeners, while others are brash pontificators, but they all seem to have one thing in common: their hatred of CRM!

I can sympathize with salespeople though as it’s them who have to use the system on a daily basis. Any pitfalls they encounter disrupt their day and, more importantly, additional time spent on CRM is wasted money.

6.   “I’d rather be selling than doing data entry”

This is a common complaint I hear all the time from salespeople. Whether it’s data entry or finding customer records, the salesperson doesn’t seem to see past their commission check and would rather be out selling. However, statistics show that only 13.9% of time is spent on admin tasks so there is still enough time for selling.

“I’m getting bogged down with paperwork and admin when I should be out selling.”
– A common complaint that I’ve heard at every company I’ve worked at.


What can you do?

Automate mundane tasks like reporting and save frequent searches for fast access. Implement a CRM system that allows your salespeople to access it on the road so that they can update records immediately without having to travel back to the office to input data they’ve already captured on paper or a spreadsheet. Cut out the paper middleman!


Get two salespeople to make a note of their time spent on tasks where one will use CRM and the other won’t. You can then compare the total admin time between the two and see which one actually lost the most amount of time.

7.   “My sales forecasting isn’t accurate”

For many businesses the primary benefit of CRM is sales visibility, but many systems don’t calculate it properly. Generally, CRM systems calculate ‘probability to close’ as a linear function of pipeline stage.

This is wrong.

A deal is not significantly more likely to close just because the prospect has decided to meet for a second time. Another spanner in the works is how individual salespeople calculate their estimations. The varying levels of opportunity scoring can render the ’quality of deals in the pipeline’ inaccurate.


What can you do?

To ensure that the quality of opportunities is classified the same, you can score them based on a series of questions and take an average from this. For instance, you could include the time they have been in the pipeline, size of business, value, number of decision makers and so on.

8.   “I don’t want to share my leads”

CRM systems promise a collaborative way of working – understandably salespeople see this as sharing their leads and the data they’ve worked so hard to obtain and are naturally protective over their information.

Source: HubSpot

"Two-thirds of CRM users don’t log every activity and have duplicate records for prospects."

What can you do?

Being protective over leads doesn’t help in any way, resulting in those leads being exposed to poor service or a lack of attention. You can set permissions on a CRM system where salespeople can only see their leads but others such as marketing or customer support can see them all to help make customers more loyal.

It’s also worth remembering that any leads that a salesperson generates belongs to the company and not the individual, it’s the relationship that they own and that’s what a CRM system is designed to help your salespeople manage.

Source: Global Customer Service Study

¾ of customers say they spent more money with a company because of a positive customer experience.

9.   “I can’t see all the data I need”

From past experiences I’ve come to realize that some businesses are so scared about data loss that they pin down their CRM users to the bare minimum of visibility. I’ve seen instances where permissions have been so locked down that a salesperson can’t even send an email to a prospect or view information after they become a customer. It’s no wonder salespeople can get frustrated.

“If you torture the data enough, they will confess.”
– Ronald H. Coase, Nobel Prize Laureate in Economic Science


What can you do?

Firstly, don’t be so scared about salespeople running off with data; if they really want to, they’ll do it some way or another. Give them the permissions they need to do their jobs well and share any ‘wins’ that the team have. The better informed that the salesperson is, the easier the system is to adopt.


Discuss with each department what permissions they require from a CRM system and build roles within them. For instance, a sales team will have sales manager, sales professional and maybe sales administrator roles.


Do your salespeople log into CRM everyday?


Do multiple salespeople work on a single lead?


How accurate are your sales and customer reports?


Do you trust your salespeople with data?

Chapter 3: Mind-set

So what’s in it for me?

No CRM system will be successful if its users have a negative mind-set towards it. I’ve previously written an article explaining the impact negativity can have on CRM, you can read it here.

I find it quite ironic that salespeople gain the most from a CRM system but are the first to dismiss it. A few years back, I even heard a salesperson say that their CRM system was “nothing more than a glorified rolodex.” It’s no coincidence that this particular salesperson was a consistent under-performer.

10.   “It doesn’t benefit me directly”

On face value it may seem that entering data into a CRM system might not bring you closer to the big bucks and that it only benefits the company. Most salespeople work in isolation and get commission for their own actions so using a CRM system is usually an after thought.

What can you do?

Remember that salespeople work for the ‘company’, so any benefits will be passed on to the employees. Correct information is crucial for marketing and farming additional sales, so a salesperson will still benefit even after the sale is won with more opportunities.

Ensuring you have a single repository of customer information leads to happier customers, stronger relationships and, ultimately, more sales. Any salesperson worth their salt should buy into this.

Source: trackvia

CRM systems are known to improve customer retention, by as much as 27%.

11.  “It’s too complicated”

CRM being too complex is one of the most common reasons salespeople hate it. I’ve seen systems that require a degree in IT just to add a new contact. It has to be simple, otherwise it will fail. Some CRM systems are separate to other IT systems, require different login details and operate in a dissimilar way to other systems.

What can you do?

If your CRM system is too complicated it will frustrate your users. It needs to be set up in a simple way where your salespeople only see relevant information and won’t be overwhelmed by hundreds of form fields to complete. Get the basics right and the more advanced functionality will be adopted naturally as they use the system more.

After all, 50% of activities recorded into a basic system is better than nothing added into an all singing, all dancing advanced one. Make sure your salespeople can walk before they try to run.

“How you gather, manage, and use information will determine whether you win or lose.”
– Bill Gates

12.   “I was never asked my opinion.”

So often projects are rolled out by management without consulting the users first. Throughout my career I’ve seen this happen time and time again. This route will inevitably end in failure as the salesperson feels left out because that nobody thought to respect their input and their way of working.

What can you do?

Getting input from the sales team early on is the easiest way to make sure your CRM project is successful. The system should be molded around your sales process and it should be the ones using it who help shape what it looks like. There’s a good chance that your salespeople may highlight an issue that you never even thought about.

13.   “I’ve never needed a CRM before”

It’s hard to change the mind-set of a sales veteran, especially one who has built a good career using pen and paper (and a good memory). They’re at the stage where they are resistant to change and are set in their ways.

What can you do?

Excuse the phrase, but I believe you can teach an old dog new tricks. These salespeople have a huge wealth of tacit knowledge so you need that to be shared. What’s more, a seasoned veteran is more likely to see the true value in something when shown properly, especially if they’ve been suffering with a specific problem for years on end.

They may not have used CRM before but many others didn’t either. Today, the business landscape has changed and there’s a risk that non-users of CRM could become non-competitive if they continue to resist by forgetting to follow up with prospects or don’t have all the information at hand.

To help them get on board with CRM, you need to assist them every step of the way, introduce each activity gradually and sell the benefit of it to them. Never forget that salespeople have been trained to sell the benefit and not the product, so selling things to them like this will ring true.

Firstly, get them to just add their prospects into the system, then when they’re comfortable with this, introduce opportunities, then reporting and so on. Remove one big change with lots of smaller ones.

Source: Nucleus Research

CRM gives an average of $8.71 for every $1 spent.


Why are you resistant to change and how can you overcome it?


Do you ever approach management with ideas or wait to be asked?


Do you pass judgement before you use a piece of software?


Do you like challenging yourself to learn new skills?


A little less hate can go a long way.

A CRM system is no longer a business want, but for any business that wants to thrive and not just survive, it’s a need. What’s also important is that the intended users see the true benefits of the CRM system even before it’s up and running.

There are clearly sales benefits, especially if sales cycles are long and you have a big team. Get CRM wrong and it could prove to be a costly mistake, not only by the price of the software, but the hindrance it could have on your sales process. Get it right though and you’ll:

  • be able to store information online rather than in your head
  • speed up up your sales cycle by contacting the right people at the right time
  • keep everyone in the loop with more collaborative working
  • save time on follow-ups with timely alerts
  • automate admin tasks rather than writing them down on paper

About the author:

Au revoir, I’m Chris Bourne and I’m really bad at French.

After working closely with B2B sales teams for the past 10 years I’ve always found negativity towards CRM systems. Some is warranted, but most, probably is not.

I thought I’d write up my experiences as to why salespeople hate CRM and what I believe are ways that you can overcome this mind-set.

It’s not just CRM that can frustrate salespeople; to find out what else gets on their nerves, myself and the talented team at sales-i decided to ask 283 sales pros from the US and UK what their biggest bugbears are. You can download the full report here.

Thanks for reading,




Chris Bourne


– Gartner,

– Sirius Decisions,

– HubSpot,

– Trackvia,

– Merkle,

– Global customer service study,

– Nucleaus Research,

Sign Up To Our Newsletter