What does it mean to put your customers first when it comes to software? If salespeople put their desire paths before established CRM processes, is it bad for business, or do sales actually improve?
This is something that is front of mind when creating any application. The simplest of user experiences, that maintain depth of functionality, are usually the hardest to achieve. It requires a large amount of iterative stages that boil the total functionality down to an intuitive design. So, is this really important for an application used predominantly by salespeople and marketers?
CRM software packages often struggle with sales force adoption. They try to force maverick salespeople to follow processes, when all they really want to do is close deals and hit their target, and can you fault them?
Normally, CRM systems are implemented by management for their own use, to facilitate visibility, forecasting and reporting in the sales process. But, consider who is expected to use CRM software the most, on a day-to-day basis: salespeople! The more time a salesperson spends with a prospect, the more likely they are to close a deal. Time is a salesperson’s scarcest resource; it can mean the difference between making and missing lucrative sales targets. So, when it comes to closing an additional deal in order to hit their quarterly target, what are they going to do?
Imagine a salesman who knows he has 24 hours to hit his target, and has a couple more units to sell in order to do so. He has an idea about who he might be able to close in that time, and the business cards of those prospects. What is he most likely to do? He’ll take the path of least resistance, which does not pass through the CRM. He’ll grab his phone, start calling numbers on his business cards, and taking notes on his notepad.
Improved user experience and interface are paramount for this type of software, in order to save time and increase ease of adoption. What if the salesperson could get an accurate, graphical visualisation of their most likely opportunities, or bring up a phone number faster than flipping through their business cards? These small improvements, which may only save a matter of seconds, create the difference between software being treated as a tool, or cast aside as a chore.
When it comes to the salesperson predicting what they are going to close this quarter, how likely is it they’re going to use your CRM software to do this? If it’s easier to manage data in Excel, and it offers them more privacy to predict optimistic and pessimistic outcomes, then that’s what they’ll do. As Tom Hulme put it, it comes down to “living like the customer.”
Effective UX design allows the application to be situated as part of the path of least resistance. By saving time rather than consuming it, adoption no longer becomes a chore. The path of least resistance is an absolute state, which is constantly changing. There are multiple users with different perspectives, so you may need different UX solutions for different user roles.