This is a question that occupies more of my brainspace that probably should. It comes up regularly in talks with Gartner clients, as in “We want to replace our Sales Force Automation tool because our sales users don’t like the current system. What is out there that is easy-to-use? What gets the best marks for ease-of-use?”
I admit that I do not really like this question, even though I fully agree with the sentiment that drives it.
My first objection comes from the fact that I used to do a lot of CRM implementation work. “Easy-to-use” may be an objective, but it is not a requirement. If the business requirement or the functional requirement cannot be tested, then it is not a relevant requirement.
I am also afraid to pursue the question too far, at the risk of failing into the philosophical hole that is at the core of Robert Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.”
But this year, I gave in. During the analysis phase of the soon-to-be-released Sales Force Automation Magic Quadrant, we asked vendor’s references to rate their SFA vendor for ease-of-use. It was a simple question, asked without providing guidance about what defines the difference between a score of 1 or a score of 5.
On average, vendors did well. The overall average score was 4.3.
But still the question remains: is it possible to objectively define and measure the concept of ease-of-use in sales applications? It is not a simple question nor a simple objective. Sales processes vary so much across industries and selling roles, the definition will necessarily be a slippery thing.
Regardless, I am determined to chase this topic. If you have your own definition of ease-of-use for sales applications, please share it with me, either private or publicly. I cannot wait to hear what you think, believe, or use at your own companies.