Is your CRM an Epic-level failure?

George Brontén

Atul Gawande is best known for his work in reducing patient death rates by 47% by implementing the simple practice of mandatory checklists among the surgeons.

Now he’s taking on the problem of how technology increasingly comes between doctors and their patients.

In a recent New Yorker article, “Why Doctors Hate Their Computers,” Gawande tells the story of learning to use the now-widespread, and largely physician-despised, medical software system called Epic.

At first, Gawande was optimistic about the program. Despite initial difficulty learning to navigate the system, he felt confident his patience would be rewarded by improved efficiency and better patient outcomes.

He was wrong.

The more complex the system, the more likely to fail.
Atul Gawande

“Three years later,” he says, “I’ve come to feel that a system that promised to increase my mastery over my work has, instead, increased my work’s mastery over me. I’m not the only one. A 2016 study found that physicians spent about two hours doing computer work for every hour spent face to face with a patient—whatever the brand of medical software. In the examination room, physicians devoted half of their patient time facing the screen to do electronic tasks. And these tasks were spilling over after hours. The University of Wisconsin found that the average workday for its family physicians had grown to eleven and a half hours. The result has been epidemic levels of burnout among clinicians. Forty per cent screen positive for depression, and seven per cent report suicidal thinking—almost double the rate of the general working population.”

These findings should be alarming to anyone who uses healthcare. Technology is making doctors miserable and reducing their ability to treat patients effectively.

And it’s not just health care that’s affected.

The sales industry faces a similar crisis.

A recent study from Gartner revealed that sellers working in organizations with complex ‘sales enablement’ systems, on average, experience a lower conversion rate than those that don’t.

Why your sales stack is an Epic failure

In my recent $85 bottle of water article, I described how the world’s biggest CRM company (you know the one…) uses manipulative tactics to squeeze more money out of customers.

Those same tactics also create needless complexity that ultimately undermines your team’s sales effectiveness.

When the first CRM came on the market, it was designed simply to replace the salesperson’s Rolodex file. And it did a great job of that.

Over time, companies expected more out of their CRM systems, and the makers of CRMs gladly obliged–adding features left and right and changing their pricing structure to reflect the additional functionality, of course.

Today, sales organizations expect technology to do more than ever. We don’t just want it to record information. We want it to be intelligent. We want it to enable our sales teams in a vast array of ways–with automated prospecting, intelligent content libraries, organizational charts, call recordings with transcriptions highlighting intent and coaching opportunities, predictable sales analytics, and much more.

Old CRM systems that were built simply to record information and print reports are now expected to do much more. In most cases, their makers have responded to the need by tacking new capabilities onto old technology, and relying on the “ecosystem” to do so, while skimming a sizeable chunk of each transaction.

The result is an often debilitating degree of complexity.

Exactly the same thing that has happened to technology in other industries.

Gawande, in his article, describes how it happened to a small piece of software designed to help researchers run computer simulations. Called Fluidity, the program gradually grew to provide massive additional functionality–but at a cost.

“They regularly added new features to it,” he says. “And, over time, the program expanded to more than a million lines of code. Every small change produced unforeseen bugs. As the software grew more complex, the code became more brittle–more apt to malfunction or to crash.”

This is due to a basic flaw of computer technology–the more complex the system, the more likely to fail.

To make matters worse, each degree of complexity also adds complexity to the user’s day. Each new screen that must be opened, each bit of data that must be sorted through, each bit of information that must be recorded–all add up to more time in front of a screen and less time in front of prospects.

Many salespeople rebel by simply not using the system. Others comply, but their effectiveness declines. A few manage to thrive, but overall the industry suffers.

Can technology help more than it hurts?

“Technology inevitably produces more noise and new uncertainties,” says Gawande. “It will help us document it all–but not necessarily to make sense of it all.”

Yet he is not without hope for the future of technology in medicine, nor should we be without hope for the future of technology in sales.

“We ultimately need systems that make the right care simpler for both patients and professionals, not more complicated. And they must do so in ways that strengthen our human connections, instead of weakening them.”

Replace “the right care” with “business decisions,” “patients” with “buyers,” “professionals” with “sellers,” and read that sentence again.

The answer is not to do away with technology, but to seek technological solutions tailored to strengthen human connections and make it simple for buyers, sellers, managers, and everyone who touches the buying decision to do their jobs.

We built Membrain to address exactly this need for companies involved in complex b2b sales. It is simple, intuitive, easy to use, and reduces “noise” while increasing “signal.”

It reduces the amount of time sellers spend interfacing with their technology by putting everything they need directly in their workflow. Its analytics provide exactly what managers need, without excess baggage, while still providing the ability to drill as deeply as they want to go, to coach better.

It’s built to be customized and flexible, meaning changes don’t add complexity to the code or cause it to become “brittle.”

And the flexibility of our pricing model and Clearpath Promise implementation approach means less complexity for the organization’s leadership right out of the gate.

The results speak for themselves. Our users consistently report high user adoption rates and improved sales performance as a result of implementing our technology.

I’d love to show you how it can work for you.I t's time to make the switch. Contact us to chat.

George Brontén
Published December 5, 2018, written by

George Brontén

George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills and processes.

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