Andy Fowler is the CTO and cofounder of Nutshell, a provider of CRM for small businesses.

In this exclusive interview, Fowler shares his thoughts on the importance of effective sales process management.

Nutshell CTO Andy Fowler
Nutshell CTO Andy Fowler

CRM Buyer: What are some of the significant trends you’re seeing in the CRM industry now? How is the industry changing and evolving?

Andy Fowler: I’ve been in this industry almost seven years now, and the message that we took to the market seven years ago has evolved over time.

When we launched, mobile was just becoming central, and now mobile is fully expected from any buyer. People also expect intuitive design.

What is changing, and what we’re learning today, is that CRM was originally created for the managers and bosses to report on the pipeline, and it was sold as a value proposition to the manager.

What’s changing now is that CRM is becoming much more about supporting the rep — giving them the tools they need to improve their performance. It’s no longer just a tool for the boss to check in on the salespeople.

CRM Buyer: How can a CRM system motivate salespeople?

Fowler: If they see the intrinsic value of the CRM tool they’re using, that motivates them. We’ve seen trends come and go, but if the tool itself adds value, that motivation happens intrinsically. The ultimate tool is one that doesn’t require motivation to use. It’s sitting in the background and working automatically.

CRM Buyer: What is the key to making CRM user-friendly?

Fowler: The first piece is staying out of the way. A good sales rep knows how to develop a relationship and build rapport. If the tool is getting in the way, that’s a de-motivator. If the tool gets out of the way, that’s the best way to improve the experience.

The other way is delivering value. If people recognize a tool’s value, then they don’t need to be motivated to use it. There are a number of ways that can happen. Part of that is the middle name of CRM — “relationships.” Good sales reps know how to develop relationships and use…