How To Know When You’ve Outgrown Your CRM Application

For sales teams to compete more effectively, it is increasingly important to leverage the right technologies. Technology can sometimes appear to be too complex, too advanced, or too costly to implement—especially for small to mid-sized companies.

Many organizations are finding, though, that they are quickly outgrowing their initial approach to CRM technologies because they either:

  • Don’t scale to meet growing demand
  • Can’t integrate with other systems
  • Aren’t flexible enough to address changing needs

Ultimately, most sales teams get to the point where they’re ready to leverage the power and flexibility of Salesforce. But there are questions…

  • Is it too complicated?
  • What will it take to set it up?
  • How will it be maintained as needs rise?

Here’s the typical journey most sales organizations take, beginning with the initial startup phase.

Spreadsheet approach

It usually starts with just a simple Excel spreadsheet, with a few key columns…

Contact Info, Next Steps, Status, etc.

The organization is still small, there might be just one salesperson, and the pipeline is just starting to get filled.

Then a second salesperson joins, and now there is a need to share information.

A shared Google sheet seems like a simple solution, but as people overwrite information, it can become unwieldy.

Yes, there is Salesforce, but now there are so many other options that cost less and seem much easier to use. Which leads sales managers to start exploring…

Basic CRMs

Whether it’s PipeDrive, HubSpot CRM, Zoho CRM, Keap, Nimble, Simply, Freshworks, Nutshell, Insightly, Streak, or any of a number of other options…there is no shortage of SaaS CRM options out there.

It’s not uncommon to start with one, though, get disenchanted, then try another, and another. But there are switching costs, and it is disruptive to change CRM systems.

While the combination of initial price point and attractive interfaces seems compelling at first, companies quickly discover a few things:

  • Thinly-implemented features. Some of the features promised weren’t fully fleshed out, and exist only to bolster a collection of bullet points in the marketing materials so they can “check the box” that yes…they DO have that feature.
  • Integration with other systems is limited. Even by using an integration platform such as Zapier (a very popular middleware platform that can connect thousands of applications), often the entire dataset is not available, and there is a limited selection of actions you can take when either exporting or importing data. If the need is to integrate into a robust ERP system, such as NetSuite, Oracle or Quickbooks, it can be especially challenging to do this effectively.
  • Reporting is not flexible. Sure, the standard reports it can generate look great, but whenever you try to do something custom, or it requires working with transformed data, it’s just not possible with these smaller CRMs. This means that you now have the extra step of exporting data, running transformations, then importing it into a reporting system.

Taking your CRM approach to the next level

While basic platforms can be useful at first, if you experienced any of the following situations, though, you may be ready to move beyond a basic CRM into something that can better serve your organization’s needs, and grow along with your business.

Integrate your CRM with other company systems

It’s about more than just importing and exporting. These days, systems need to be able to communicate in both directions, in near real-time. In addition, data management and integration raises some business process questions, such as:

  • Which system owns the master records?
  • What is the impact of changes in one system to the others?

Leverage untapped opportunities

For example, you may have customers contacting your support department with questions and issues that could represent either new sales potential, or at the least an opportunity for a sales rep to check in with the customer to ensure retention and satisfaction. A more robust CRM can be set up with rules and automation to identify these scenarios and alert the salesperson.

Another possibility is when prospects are interacting with marketing materials, such as emails, advertisements, websites and more. Having that “intel” on prospect behavior enables timely and effective follow up by the salesperson, just when the prospect is most engaged.

Create custom reporting

What good is all that data if it can’t be effectively compiled, managed, reported, and shared? Sales is a numbers game, so being able to create compelling charts and summaries that tell effective stories can help shed light on the performance of individual sales people, territories, accounts, and more. To do this, though, you’ll need to be using a platform that has the power and flexibility to generate whatever view you need.

Generate custom quotes

When it comes to creating quotes and proposals, many sales organizations are cobbling together a hodge-podge of different systems.

Many lower-end CRMs are just not set up to do this, requiring exporting of data, and manual quote creation in other tools, such as QuickBooks, or even hand-crafting and calculating proposals in Microsoft Word or Excel.

Create a consistent workflow and process

If everyone on the team is managing their sales information the same way, and with the same process, it enables cleaner data, better reports, and improved insights. Having consistent workflows whether working from a mobile device or your office helps ensure this happens. Most basic CRMs have limited capabilities to do this.

Manage accounts and leads by territories

Once you have a team that’s covering different parts of the country, there is a need to make sure that territory management is handled with fairness and precision. Most basic CRMs have limited or no real territory management features.


Have you outgrown your CRM? If the story above feels familiar, it is time to consider Salesforce. Salesforce goes far beyond CRM and is the leading platform on which businesses grow.

Prisio can help you evaluate whether Salesforce makes sense for your business. With its feature rich and low cost Quickstart implementation offerings, Prisio can also help you implement Salesforce.

Key questions to consider

When considering your next step with CRMs, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Could you be missing opportunities from other parts of the business?

  • Is the team doing too much data entry?

  • Are you spending too much time manually creating reports and analyses?

  • Do you keep running into limitations and workarounds with your current system?

  • Is your data inconsistent because everyone is using their own process?